Centre Tuesday told Delhi High Court that there was “divergence of opinion” among state governments and respective high courts on constitution of the All India Judicial Service (AIJS) and a “consultative process” has been undertaken on the issue. It told a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, which was hearing a petition seeking directions for establishment of AIJS without delay, that the issue required further deliberation and consideration.
Central government standing counsel Manish Mohan told the bench that the Ministry of Law and Justice has given a response in August to the representation given by the petitioner on the issue of AIJS, to be set up on the lines of IAS and IPS.
In its August 12 response, the Ministry has said a comprehensive proposal was formulated for constitution of AIJS and it was included as an agenda item in the conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of the high courts held in April 2013 and the views of state governments and high courts were sought on it.
“There were divergence of opinion among state governments and high courts on constitution of All India Judicial Service. While some state governments and high courts were not in favour of creation of AIJS, in some other cases, the state governments and high courts wanted changes in the proposal formulated by the Central Government,” it said.
The ministry said the proposal, along with the views received from high courts and state governments, was included in the agenda for the joint conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of high courts held on April 5 last year.
“However, no progress was made on the subject,” it said.
“Keeping in view the divergence of opinion among the stakeholders on constitution of AIJS, the government has undertaken the consultative process to arrive at a common ground,” the ministry said in its response given to petitioner advocate Ashwini Upadhyay.
The ministry said the matter pertaining to creation of a judicial service commission to help recruitment to the post of district judges and review of selection process of judicial officers at all levels was also included in the agenda for Chief Justices conference which was held on April 3-4, 2015.
During the hearing, the bench disposed of the plea terming it as “premature” and granted liberty to Upadhyay to approach the court again, if aggreived, after reading the response of Law Ministry.
In its response to the representation by the petitioner, the ministry said that during the conference of Chief Justices of high courts, it was resolved to leave it open to respective high courts to “evolve appropriate methods within the existing system to fill up vacancies for appointment of district judges expeditiously”.
“In May 2015, a communication was addressed by the government to the Chief Justices of high courts requesting them to apprise the action being taken to make the recruitment process more broad based to fill up the existing vacancies of judicial officers/judges at all levels in the district and subordinate courts to enable the government to take a view on the need for formation of AIJS,” it said.
“Most of the high courts have indicated that recruitment process for vacancies in subordinate judiciary at all levels has been expedited in terms of the resolution passed in the conference of Chief Justices held in New Delhi in April 2015,” the ministry said.
During the hearing, the petitioner told the bench that he has not received the August 12 communication from the ministry after which the court directed the Centre’s counsel to give a copy of the same to him.
“We will say that the decision will be communicated to you (petitioner) and then you can go through it. You have to see what is the decision taken by them and then you can come to the court again if you are aggreived,” the bench told the petitioner.
In his petition, Upadhyay has alleged that government was “sleeping over” the issue of setting up an AIJS, like IAS and IPS, and had sought directions for initiating the process.
He had claimed that AIJS would result in “uniformity and transparency in the selection process” and improve the quality of judges in high courts and district courts.
While the Law Commission of India has thrice called for creating the AIJS, it has also been endorsed and recommended by the Parliamentary Standing Committee, the first National Judicial Pay Commission and the National Advisory Council, the plea has said.
The petitioner has also sought directions to government to “provide appropriate manpower and infrastructure to reduce the pendency of cases to three years”.