Lower judicial appointments

Facts:
  • There are about 25% vacancies in lower judiciary.
Issue:
  • The recruitment process of district judges is now the subject matter of a public interest litigation filed in the Supreme Court.
  • The matter has now come to a standstill given opposition by States to a centralised selection mechanism for judges.
  • This is not the first time that the Supreme Court has tried to streamline the examination process for the lower judiciary.
  • In Malik Mazhar v. U.P. Public Service Commission (2008), it highlighted the importance of a prescribed time-schedule for judicial service examinations and laid down stage-wise time lines for lower judicial appointments — for civil judges (junior division) and district judges (direct recruitment) in 321 days and 183 days, respectively. An examination cycle is calculated from the date of notification to the last date for joining.
Problem in fixing timelines:
  1. The rationale behind arriving at this timeline is unclear.
  2. It is an inaccurate benchmark to measure performance as it does not consider different sanctioned strengths and State resources in conducting such exams.
  3. Strict adherence to such timelines affects aspirants.