Even the Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act 1976 inserted an “all-India judicial services” provision into Article 312. Besides, local judicial services have not delivered in the desired manner.
The new Chief Justice of India (CJI), SA Bobde, recently told the Economic Times (he was the CJI designate at the time) that a National Judicial Service was key to the national interest. He also said that if the government were to create a national academy to train members of the judicial cadre in jurisprudence, local languages, and local laws, then it would be a step forward. Coming from the topmost judicial office in the country, this is a strong boost for judicial reforms. More so, because High Courts have struck the idea down in many cases, even though the idea has been backed by many, including prime minister Narendra Modi.
The idea has been debated for the last five decades—it was first referred to in 1960, with subsequent mentions in the judge’s conferences and 1st, 8th, and 116th Law Commission reports. It is time that the government implements this. Even the Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act 1976 inserted an “all-India judicial services” provision into Article 312. Besides, local judicial services have not delivered in the desired manner. For instance, in 2015, when Delhi conducted the judicial service exam to fill 80 seats, only 2% of the 586 appearing for the exam could clear it. In 2017, Punjab and Haryana High Court had to re-conduct examination after a paper leak, which was later overturned by the Supreme Court as only nine of the 107 appearings could clear the written stage. Instances like these are the reason that strength of the judiciary in subordinate courts is over a fifth short of the total number of the sanctioned posts, and a judicial service cadre can solve this. Besides, it will address the uncle-judge syndrome that afflicts Indian courts—appointments from a national cadre will lessen the nepotism. If the government does not push its reservation agenda—the idea, at first, was that it would promote social equity by bringing in reservations for judge’s appointments—an NJS can potentially be the first step towards judicial reforms.