The judiciary performs the act of interpreting the law and applying it to specific cases. An independent, unbiased, honest and competent judiciary is required for the strength and resilience of a proper democratic constitutional order in the nation. Therefore, it is important to see that the mode of selecting the judges helps in meeting with these requirements. Ensuring that the judges who are recruited to the judiciary are of required quality and calibre in performing their duties.
The judiciary possesses the powers which affect different aspects of lives of citizens of the country. A judiciary that is well-functioning is crucial to the rule of law and to the protection of fundamental rights of citizens. In performing their functions with utmost integrity, judges need to be professionally competent, politically impartial and independent from any kind of undue influence whether from the executive, legislature or other influential public or private interests.
Direct recruitment is a service that incorporates selection and enrolment of highly qualified personnel.[i]
The expression “district judge” includes judge of a city civil court, additional district judge, joint district judge, assistant district judge, chief judge of a small cause court, chief presidency magistrate, additional chief presidency magistrate, sessions judge, additional sessions judge and assistant sessions Judge[ii]
Art.233 – Appointment of District Judges:
(1) Appointments of persons to be, and the posting and promotion of, district judges in any State shall be made by the Governor of the State in consultation with the High Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to such State.
(2) A person not already in the service of the Union or of the State shall only be eligible to be appointed a district judge if he has been for not less than seven years an advocate or a pleader and is recommended by the High Court for appointment.
Direct recruitment of district judges:
Initially online applications are invited through the concerned webpage of the State for direct recruitment to the post of District Judge (Entry Level) in the Judicial Service of the State under the State Judicial Service Rules. The applicants fill up the application as per the instructions available in the concerned website and furnish the application along with the examination fee and all relevant documents called for. Furnishing any kind of false or incomplete information will render the application of the applicant to be rejected.
The appointment of the candidate as a district judge would be on the basis of vacancies available in the respective States as per the guidelines laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in MALIK MAZHAR SULTAN v. U.P. PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION.[iii] The number of vacancies that are advertised for, are completely approximate in nature and it may be increased with regard to a sanction of new posts by the Government and it may also be modified and reduced with respect to vacancy of a position at any time prior to finalisation of the selection process.
Qualifications and procedure for direct recruitment as District Judge:
- Age limit is a qualification for the process of selection of a candidate in recruitment as the District Judge. Although, the age limit for applicants ranging from the reserved category, unreserved category, differently abled candidates etc., differ from state to state.
- The applicants must possess a Law degree from a University established or incorporated by or under a Central Act or State Act or any institution recognized by the University Grants Commission or the Bar Council of India or any other equivalent qualification and must be enrolled as an advocate under the Bar Council of the State established under the Advocates Act, 1961.
- The applicant must be practising as an advocate or a pleader in the High Courts or Supreme Court or other subordinate Courts for a minimum period of 7 years; or
- The applicant must have been a Assistant Public Prosecutor having an experience of a minimum period of 7 years as an Advocate and/or Assistant Public Prosecutor.
- The applicant must have practised for a period of not less than 7 years and must have continued to remain as a practising Advocate or working Assistant Public Prosecutor until the selection date and appointment; or
- A person who is serving as a judicial officer with a practise of 7 years as an Advocate and Judicial Service put together is also permitted to apply for the selection subject to certain pending orders.
- Subsequent to these essential qualifications, the applicant who applies under the category of ‘practising advocates’ must have cleared the All India Bar Examination conducted by the Bar Council of India.
- The applicant must be a citizen of India and must contain such knowledge adequate to read, write and speak in English and the vernacular language of the State where he intends to apply for direct recruitment as district judge.
- Once the primary qualifications are fulfilled by the applicant, a character certificate certified by three persons not related to him or her is required to be produced in the form prescribed in Annexure-A. Out of the three persons certifying, one must be a Senior Advocate or Counsel and the other two shall be persons well acquainted with the applicant’s private life but not being relatives of the applicant.
- Once all the necessary documents are properly submitted by the applicant and he pays the examination fee, a preliminary examination is conducted to choose the candidates for admission for the Main Examination and the viva-vice test. A candidate, after clearing the Main examination must procure a minimum of 40 marks to be eligible for inclusion in the Select List.
- Subsequent to the selection, the Rule of reservation and the distribution of vacancies for candidates from different communities will apply according to the Policies, Rules and Instructions issued by the Government of the State from time to time.
- Upon selection of the desirable candidates, according to the provisions of Art.233 of the Constitution of India, the appointment and posting of the desired person as the district judge will be made by the Governor of the State in consultation with the High Court of that particular State within sufficient jurisdiction.
Appointments to the higher judiciary have been scrutinized extensively but reforms to the appointment process in the lower judiciary have not moved beyond the usual prescription for an All India Judicial Service and recently a ‘Central Selection Mechanism (‘CSM’) has been proposed to be developed for recruitment. Both these examinations aim at centralising the process of recruitment for the post of District Judges.
A CSM is meant for the recruitment for the post of District Judges who enter into the judicial service laterally from the Bar. The post of a district judge constitutes almost twenty-five percent of the people who enter into the higher ranks in the lower judiciary. Therefore, unlike the All India Judicial Service, CSM is a national examination conducted only for a minimal percentage of posts within the cadre of District Judges. The proposal with regard to CSM rose in the context of a suo-moto public interest litigation which was filed in the Supreme Court filed in 2017.
Therefore, the actual prerogative behind appointing judges to State Judicial Services would remain with the Governor of a State, as prescribed under Art.233 of the Constitution of India while the process of selection involves choosing of a candidate amongst the entire pool of candidates presented, from whom the judges are recruited directly subsequent to consultation with the High Court of the concerned State.
Edited by Pragash Boopal
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
[i] Meaning of direct recruitment http://levelh.bg/english/services-for-employers/direct-recruitment/
[ii] Art.236 of the Constitution of India https://www.india.gov.in/sites/upload_files/npi/files/coi_part_full.pdf
[iii] The guidelines for appointment of a candidate in the cadre of District Judge laid down in the case; 2008 (17) SCC 703