State-wise Assessment Report on Lower Court Appointments by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy [Read Report]December 4 2017
The Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy has published a data-driven assessment report on the lower judiciary's recruitment process, including rankings of state-wise performance in this regard.
The report was compiled in the backdrop of deliberations undertaken by the Supreme Court as to the feasibility of a Central Selection Mechanism for appointment of judges to the subordinate judiciary earlier this year.
The state-wise rankings in the report was made based on two metrics i.e. average time taken to complete a recruitment cycle and percentage of vacancies potentially filled.
The report was made based on information available on the websites of each state High Court and Public Service Commission between 2007-2017 and notifications announcing preliminary tests, main examinations, interviews and the final merit list.
Significant findings based on the available information, were made by Vidhi, including the following.
Appointment of Civil Judges (Junior Division)
Data from 20 states on appointment of Civil Judges (Junior Division) revealed that Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Punjab were the top-ranking states, while Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), Manipur and Delhi were ranked the lowest. The delay with J&K and Delhi was caused by litigation challenging their recruitment processes.
The average recruitment cycle, calculated for 18 states over 10 years, is 326.27 days for a three-tier recruitment process of Civil Judges (Junior Division). This is much longer than the limit of 273 days prescribed by the Supreme Court in Malik Mazhar Sultan v. Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission.
Appointment of District Judges (Direct Recruitment)
The report ranked appointment processes for District Judges (Direct Recruitment), relying on data from 15 states. Amongst them, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal were ranked highest, while Assam and Bihar were ranked the lowest.
An average taken over the last ten years for seven states that follow a two-tier recruitment system (written exam and interview) reveals that it takes 196.28 days to complete one cycle.
Similarly, the average amongst ten states that follow a three-tier system of recruitment (preliminary exam, written exam and interview) to complete one recruitment cycle is 335.9 days. Both these figures exceed the Supreme Court-prescribed limit of 153 days and 273 days, respectively.
Filling of Vacancies after Recruitment
The report concludes that there is great variance amongst states as regards filling up vacancies after the completion of a recruitment cycle.
In case of Civil Judges (Junior Division), data from 20 states shows that in 11 states the total vacancies advertised were not filled. In some cases such as Punjab and Sikkim, however, the candidates selected were more than twice the number of vacancies advertised.
Similarly, in case of District Judge (Direct Recruitment), data from 19 states show in 15 states, the total vacancies advertised were not filled.
In conclusion, Vidhi points out the difficulty in accessing information regarding recruitments to the subordinate judiciary. The report also points out,
"...systemic reasons for delay such as pending litigation often lie beyond the control of the state but have the effect of delaying the entire process. Additional factors such as poor quality of legal education and poor incentive structures contribute to the lack of an adequate pool of meritorious candidates for such examinations."
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