Underlining “we need to have good intake in the judiciary”, Union Minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad said Saturday that the government was in “discussion” with the Chief Justice of India to establish “very soon” an All India Judicial Service or Indian Judicial Service drawing the “best minds” via competitive examinations.
“We also wish to give proper reservation to SC, ST, OBC so that the inclusive character of the judiciary may also come about. I am very keenly pushing it,” he said.
Addressing a gathering at the inauguration of the Centenary Building of the Patna High Court – the function was attended by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Patna High Court Chief Justice Sanjay Karol, serving and retired judges of the Supreme Court and High Court – Prasad flagged what he called “a new disturbing trend” of people criticising, even trolling judges on social media if judgments are not to their liking.
“Of late, some people have an opinion about something, they seek to file PIL. No problem, that’s a right. But then they start campaigning that we must have a judgment of this type only. And if the judgment is not in accord with what they perceive to be their view, then I see disturbing comments against judges as well on the social media, at times being trolled. This is grossly unfair,” he said.
“The judges of India — Supreme Court or High Court or District Court — must be given complete freedom to decide cases as per the knowledge of law and understanding. If you have any problem, offer your comment, analysis of the reasoning of the judgment. That’s your right. But any kind of trolling, any kind of agenda setting, and if that is not in accordance with that, then publicly criticising sitting judges in the most horrible manner is not fair,” he said.
On the social media guidelines announced two days ago, Prasad said: “It was long overdue. We are supportive of freedom, we are supportive of criticism, we are supportive of dissent too. But the issue is not the use of social media. The issue is the misuse and abuse of social media… Today, nearly 135 crore people of India are using various forms of social media. Therefore, if someone is being abused, someone is being misused, should they have some grievance redressal mechanism or not? That is what we have provided.”
On quota in the judiciary to bring about its “inclusive character” and the creation of an Indian Judicial Service, the Law Minister said: “We need to have good intake in the judiciary. Very soon, we are going to…we are in consultation… we are going to establish the All India Judicial Service or Indian Judicial Service. We have IAS, we have IPS, we have IFS. Why can’t we have a true Indian Judicial Service having the best minds being selected by the Union Public Service Commission or the Oversight Mechanism of the Supreme Court, direction of the Chief Justice of India. And the idea, which we are contemplating, is picking a particular number of Additional District Judges, throwing it open for competition… fresh law graduates, seven-year practice, and also sitting subordinate judiciary. You also sit, write the examination, compete.”
“And the idea is to have a cluster of groupings: Eastern India, North-Eastern India, Northern India, Southern India, Western India. And let through that selection, with the biggest stress on scrutiny of merit, the best minds become Additional District Judges, then District Judges and come to also the High Court in the very limited quota. The rest would be continuing for the subordinate judiciary as the case may be. We also wish to give proper reservation to SC, ST, OBC so that the inclusive character of the judiciary may also come about. I am very keenly pushing it.”
He said the All India Judicial Service was “a work in progress” and “we are in discussion with the Honourable Chief Justice, and he has been encouraging. We will work it together”.
CJI Bobde said the introduction of “artificial intelligence” in the working of the judiciary “cannot take away the judge’s discretion to decide a case” but will provide ease of information.
He said the Bihar government should assist the Patna High Court in building an artificial intelligence set-up.
“Decision making will remain with the judges, but the speed of receiving inputs will change. AI will not take away discretion of the judges… It can provide only ease of information,” he said.
Voicing concern over the negative impact of the pandemic on litigants and court staffers, the CJI said: “The pandemic and the system of video conferencing has had a negative effect on some people. So for this, we at the Supreme Court started mental health clinics so that people who are suffering from mental health disturbances can go there and get relief. The pandemic has changed the minds of the people.”
“Video conferencing and appearance of advocates from anywhere in the country before any court of the country has created problems also. VC and all the infrastructure related to it is dependent upon technology. But everyone cannot afford VC equipment and this creates inequality,” he said.
Nitish Kumar said it was only with assistance from the Patna High Court that the state government could succeed in getting higher conviction in cases due to speedy trials.