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Supreme Court: The Court has directed all States, Union Territories (UTs) and the High Courts to apprise it on the status of vacancies of judicial officers as on June 30 and sought personal appearance of all State Law Secretaries and the Registrar Generals of HCs before it on July 31.

“The authorities shall indicate the total strength of each cadre; the number of posts in different cadres actually filled up; the number of posts in each cadre lying vacant; the number of posts in respect of which selection is presently going on and the stage of the said process of selection, and finally, the number of posts in different cadres for which the process of selection is yet to be initiated,”

The Court had, on October 22 last year, taken note of over 5,000 vacant posts of judicial officers in lower courts across the country and sought information from all the 24 High Courts as also states.

The bench of Ranjan Gogi, CJ and Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, JJ said,

“Regarding the issue of filling up of the vacancies in different cadres of the District and subordinate judicial services of the states and UTs, the concerned authority of the state governments/UTs and also the Registrar Generals of the jurisdictional High Courts shall inform the Secretary General of this court the position with regard to filling up of the vacancies in the judicial services in each state,”

The Law Secretaries of each State and the Registrar Generals of each High Courts shall be personally present in court on July 31, it said.

The bench also took note of a report dealing with the central funding on infrastructure of subordinate judiciary.

“Solicitor General (Tushar Mehta) is granted time until July 31 to interact with the concerned officials of the Union of India and to lay before the court the views of the Union of India with regard to the suggestions made by the Amicus Curiae (on infrastructure of lower courts),”

Earlier, the Court had termed the extent of vacancies in lower judicairy as “wholly unacceptable” and sought information from all the 24 High Courts on it. It had said there were 22,036 posts of higher and lower judicial officers in lower courts in the country and, as on date, 5,133 posts are vacant.

(Source: PTI)

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On 03.10.2017, the Chief Justice of India, Justice Dipak Misra along with Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph passed a resolution stating that all the decisions taken by the Collegium, indicating the reasons, will be uploaded on the website of the Supreme Court. The Resolution was passed in order to ensure transparency and yet maintain confidentiality in the Collegium system.

The recommendations sent to the Government of India, with regard to the cases relating to initial elevation to the High Court Bench, confirmation as permanent Judge(s) of the High Court, elevation to the post of Chief Justice of High Court, transfer of High Court Chief Justices / Judges and elevation to the Supreme Court, will also be uploaded of the website because on each occasion the material which is considered by the Collegium is different.

The ‘Collegium Resolutions’ tab that was added to the Supreme Court website on 06.10.2017, displays the following recommendations and resolutions till date:

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On 09.08.2017, a ‘concept note’ on a Central Selection Mechanism (CSM) for the lower judiciary was notified on the Supreme Court website afterthe 3-judge bench of JS Khehar, CJ and AK Goel and AM Khanwilkar, JJ, on 04.08.2017, asked the Registry to prepare and send the note to the Registrars of all the High Courts. The said direction was given after the Court initiated suo motu proceedings after a letter dated 28.04.2017 was written by the Secretary of the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law & Justice (Government of India), to the Supreme Court of India.

According to the ‘Concept Note’, under CSM, the candidates will write a single common examination, namely the District Judges Recruitment Examination (DJURE), and be considered for selection in all the States for which they fulfill the eligibility criteria. Here are the key points from the Concept Note

Why a Central Selection Method?

  • Conducting DJURE would mean having a consistent and rigorous selection process
  • Fixed time-table of holding such examinations will enable an advocate who is unsuccessful in a given year, to try harder and make further attempts in a planned manner for the subsequent years.
  • More candidates will appear for the examination, of which the best eventually make the grade and qualify as central service officers.
  • CSM will provide a regular pool of meritorious candidates to recruitment and selection bodies for State Judicial Services across India.
  • District Judges Recruitment Examination (DJRE) will eradicate uncertainty and irregularity by providing fix syllabus and schedule of examination.

Effect on existing structure of Judiciary

  • DJURE would not compromise the autonomy of the States in regulating the terms of recruitment or the conditions of service. All existing rules regarding reservation, eligibility and service conditions in the States would continue to be in force.
  • DJURE will neither recruit, nor appoint candidates as District Judges. It will merely present a pool of candidates from whom judges can be recruited, after an interview with the selection authority. The actual prerogative of appointment of any judges to State Judicial Services would remain with the Governor of a State, as prescribed under the Constitution of India.
  • DJURE will not alter the existing eligibility criteria in different States. The eligibility criteria and the rules/regulations for reservation prevalent in the States will remain intact. Specific requirements of each State in terms of testing knowledge in local laws or local language will also be protected.

Structure of DJURE: DJURE will be split into 4 law papers and interview.

Authority conducting DJURE

  • 5-member Central Selection Committe consisting of one chairperson and four other members, all nominated by the CJI, and may include sitting or retired judges. The four members shall preferably represent each of the four regions of the country.
  • Secretariat for conducting the DJURE written exams, and constituting Interview Boards for conducting interviews for different state judicial services
  • Interview Boards solely responsible for conducting the interviews of candidates who have qualified on the basis of the National and State ranks

Funding: CSM will be funded by the Central Government, keeping in mind the all India nature of the examination.

Bi-annual DJURE: Concept Note suggests that the timeline of the DJURE should begin by Intimation of Vacancies by the High Court to the Secretariat on March 15 every year and should conclude with the publication of results on August 31. The 6-month timeline will allow CSC to conduct DJURE twice a year.

To read the full ‘Concept-note’, click here.

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On 04.08.2017, the 3-judge bench of JS Khehar, CJ and AK Goel and AM Khanwilkar, JJ indicated that the Court was inclined to go ahead with a proposal for a centralised selection mechanism for appointment of judicial officers in the subordinate judiciary even if there was no amicable consensus among various the high courts and the states. The Court said that  it wanted professional people to come into the judiciary so that they could do something for the institution. The matter was taken up suo motu by the Court after a letter was written to the Secretary General of the Supreme Court by Secretary (Justice) Snehlata Shrivastava at the Centre.

Stating that citizens should have confidence in the judiciary, the Court said that no country can progress if there is no functional and effective judiciary. No person from abroad would like to come to India and contest his case for 15 years. The Court said that, if required, it will have a day-long hearing on the issue on August 22 to resolve the objections of various States and High Courts to the proposal.

CJI said that the Court was inclined to pass an order after reaching an amicable consensus but if the objections persist, it may still pass the orders. Asking the Registry to send a “concept note” of the proposal allaying the objections to all the registrars general of the High Courts and the Secretaries of the Law Ministries of all the States, the Court said that the High Courts and the Secretaries of the Law Ministries of all the States should put the concept note on their websites to seek suggestions from the public and after analysis forward it to the apex court before August 17.

Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar presented 4 suggestions of the Union of India:

  • Examination should have a commercial law paper along with other subjects.
  • There should be a test to check the technology proficiency of the candidate
  • The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), being a professional independent body having experience, should conduct the examination.
  • The cost should be shared by the Centre and the States on a fifth-fifty basis.

The bench, however, disagreed with this suggestion of the solicitor general, saying it would amount to interfering in the federal structure as the syllabus for the exam was a State subject. These change of papers, marks, syllabus are small changes which could be given effect by modifying the order, when the need arises.

On 28.07.2017, the Court had asked Senior advocate Arvind Dattar, assisting the court as an amicus curiae, to prepare the concept note on the proposal after Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Uttarakhand and Calcutta high courts raised their objection on account of language and reservation criteria. The bench had assured the States that the centralised process would not affect their rules, reservation or language and it would be like a UPSC examination.

According to a report earlier issued by the Supreme Court –‘Indian Judiciary Annual Report 2015-2016’, 2.8 crore cases were pending in the district courts across the country which were short of nearly 5,000 judicial officers. The report had suggested increasing the judicial manpower “manifold” at least seven times to overcome the crisis by appointing about 15,000 more judges in the coming years.

Source: PTI