Niti Aayog for all-India test to select judges for lower courts

| | New Delhi
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Niti Aayog for all-India test to select judges for lower courts

Friday, 21 December 2018 | PNS | New Delhi

On the lines of Union Public Service Commission’s (UPSC) examination for IAS and IPS, the Niti Aayog has come up with an idea for a pan-India exam to select cadre for the lower judiciary to attract young and bright law graduates.

At present, various high courts and state service commissions hold exams to recruit judicial officers. The Aayog also come up with an idea to reduce the upper age limit for entry into the civil services from 30 years to 27 for general category candidates in a phasedmanner.

The Government has in the past proposed an all-India judicial service. But nine high courts have opposed the proposal to have an all-India service for lower judiciary.  Eight others have sought changes in the proposed framework and only two have supported the idea.

In its report on Strategy for New India @75 which defines objectives for 2022-23, the Aayog suggested that an all-India judicial services examination on a ranking basis can be considered to maintain high standards in the judiciary. “The selection process may be entrusted to the UPSC for a cadre of lower judiciary judges, Indian Legal Service (both centre and states), prosecutors, legal advisors, and legal draftsmen. This will attract young and bright law graduates and help build a new cadre that can enhance accountability in the governance system,” the report claimed. The report suggested introduction of an administrative cadre in the judicial system to streamline processes. There are 24 high courts in the country.

A performance index for judges should be considered and a separate State-wise index for “ease of getting justice” should be prepared. To maintain judicial independence, the cadre should report to the Chief Justice in each High Court.

The idea was first mooted in the 1960s. Seeking to overcome the divergence of views, the government had recently suggested to the Supreme Court various options, including an NEET-like examination to recruit judges to the lower judiciary.

National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is conducted for admission to medical colleges. Joint Entrance Examination (JEE Main) is conducted for admission to engineering colleges.

There were vacancies of 4,452 judges in subordinate courts in the country as per the figures released on December 31, 2015. While the sanctioned strength is 20,502, the actual number of judges and judicial officers in subordinate courts is 16,050.

The Aayog has also suggested that the upper age limit for entry into the civil services be brought down to 27 years from the present 30 years for general category candidates.   “The upper age limit for the civil services should be brought down to 27 years for the general category in a phased manner by 2022-23,” it said.

It also said the existing 60-plus separate civil services at the Central and State level need to be reduced through rationalisation and harmonisation of services.

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