All India Judges Association v. Union of India W.P. (C) No 643/2015
The Indian Judicial system is ridden with a backlog of millions of cases. There are vacancies that have not been filled for decades and by every passing year, the pendency of cases is increasing.
One of the biggest problems faced by the courts today is the enormous amount of cases that are filed everywhere. This creates a pressure on the courts and slowly the cases get piled up. Another reason for the pendency of the cases is the number of adjournments that are sought and given during a trial. A case which could have ended on three or four hearings gets concluded by the tenth.
Infrastructure is also a big problem which the courts have to concern themselves with. The judiciary is therefore burdened with administrative work as well as the judicial work. As such the work is but naturally going to take a toll on the efficiency of the Indian Judicial System.
The salaries which are given to the judges of the lower judiciary are not that attractive and there are other concerns also which hamper the overall development of a judicial officer. The concept of an All India Judicial Commission was mooted long ago for the purpose of looking into the service conditions of a lower judicial officer in the country.
In the instant case, the All India Judges Association had petitioned the Supreme Court for directions for the institution of an All India Judicial Commission and the feasibility for its establishment in India.
They had also prayed the court for making an inquiry and make a study of the prevalent conditions in which the judicial officers of the subordinate judiciary were carrying out their duties in India especially with regard to the issues related to pay scale, retirement age, pension, and other emoluments.
The primary reason for doing so was that the position of the judges belonging to the subordinate judiciary was not at all in a very glorious stature. The perks and allowances being provided to them were not at par with as to what they actually deserve. This becomes one of the reasons that the best talent at times skips the race to join the subordinate judiciary.
The subordinate judiciary carries out one of the most important tasks which the other courts do not have the express power to do. It records the evidence and in the present times, it is highly overburdened and overworked. The holidays, perks, benefits etc which the courts of higher constitutional position enjoy are not available to the judges of the subordinate judiciary.
The issues, in this case, were straight and simple. The All India Judges Association wanted that a body be established by the name of All India Judicial Commission. They also wanted directions for getting the service conditions of the subordinate judiciary in India reviewed.
The States appearing in the court stated that they were willing to create a commission in their respective states which could carry out a detailed exercise. The Supreme Court helped in making the Terms of Reference for the consideration of the commission and the following terms of reference were formulated by the Hon’ble Court in its wisdom:
- To make and finalize criteria which would help in finalizing the pay and other emoluments of Judicial Officers belonging to the sub-ordinate judiciary in the country.
- To examine the existing structure of emoluments and service conditions of the Judicial Officers by keeping in mind the current benefits which were being extended to them and come up with a proper proposal for their remuneration and other benefits including post-retirement benefits such as pension etc.
- To make a grievance redressal mechanism for issues related to the payments and benefits of the officers belonging to sub-ordinate judicial services and at the same time keeping in mind the existing mechanisms for other civil servants.
- To make a detailed inquiry about the work methods and work environment along with the allowances and benefits which are provided to the Judicial Officers.
- To suggest rationalization and simplification with a view to promoting the efficiency of the judiciary and to remove anomalies created in the implementation of earlier recommendations.
- To consider and recommend such interim relief which is just and proper to all categories of Judicial Officers of all the States/Union Territories.
- To make recommendations for establishing a permanent mechanism for the review of such issues.
The court thus formulated a scheme for the commission to follow it and then formulated a commission for the purpose of the same. The Hon’ble Court appointed a Commission which was to be headed by Mr. Justice P. Venkatarama Reddy, a former Judge of the Supreme Court, and made him the Chairman of the Commission.
The Court then appointed Mr. R. Basant, a former Judge of the Kerala High Court and a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court, to be the Member of the Commission.
It was also ordered that the Commission would be assisted by a Member Secretary who would be chosen by the Commission, and he must preferably be a Judicial Officer either in service or retired.
It was directed that in case the Commission decided to choose a serving Judicial Officer of any State, the concerned High Court, and the State would make available the services of such an officer and treat such officer to be on deputation to the Commission.
The Court requested the Commission to complete the collection of data and make the appropriate recommendations and submit a copy of the same to the Court within a period of 18 months. All the governments were advised to assist the commission in all respect will all necessary help and requirements.