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Mandatory 3 year practice for judicial Services Examination, validity and issues

The Madhya Pradesh Judicial Service (Recruitment and Conditions of Service) Rules, 1994 were amended to make three years of practice compulsory to be eligible to appear for the civil judge entry level test in the state.

The amendment introduced a requirement of three years of compulsory practice to amend The Madhya Pradesh Judicial Service (Recruitment and Conditions of Service) Rules, 1994.

The amendment exempts outstanding law graduates who have secured at least 70 percent marks in the general and OBCs categories from the mandatory requirement of three years practice. It also exempts SC and ST candidates securing 50 percent marks. These exemptions only apply if a student has passed the examination in their “first attempt”.

The introduction of these rules has drawn flak from judicial services aspirants and law students. On the other hand, many from the legal community have lauded this step.

The three-year practice is it valid?

The Bar Council of India (BCI), the regulating body for legal practice in India, has favouring such rules of getting ‘experienced’ judges.

BCI called judicial officers not having practical experience at the Bar as “incapable”, “inept”, “impolite”, and “impractical”.

In 2021, an application was filed by the BCI before the Supreme Court to amend an 18-year-old Order. This Order had eliminated mandatory practice as a qualifying criterion for the judiciary.

The Constitution of India, through Article 234, empowers a governor to appoint a person other than a district judge to the judicial service of the state. In accordance with the rules made by him, after consultation with the state public service commission and the high court of the concerned state.

When the possibilities of All India Judicial Services were being discussed, in the 116th Law Commission Report. The grievance of a judge was also addressed. According to this “catch them young” concept should not be applied in the case of appointment of judicial officers.

But this can be done by training the judicial officers after their appointment.

The Shetty Commission, led by Justice Jagannatha Shetty, reiterated the discussion made under the 116th Law Commission report.

The same issue was explained by the Shetty Commission, and it was observed by them. In the case of All India Judges Association versus Union of India (1993), the Supreme Court had affirmed three years of legal practice is a necessary recruitment at the lowest tier in the judicial hierarchy.

Why the three-years mandate is an issue?

This narrative has numerous problems. The cardinal argument against this narrative is that it is against the interest of marginalised communities and women. Mandatory 3 year practice for judicial Services Examination

The 3-years of practice would make increasing the number of women and marginalised section judges a distant dream.

As per the India Justice Report 2022, a significant number of women are breaking into by entering district court-level judiciary.

Around 35% of judges in district courts being women, whereas only about 13 percent of judges in high courts are women.

At the same time, representation of female judges at subordinate levels in Goa is as high as 70 percent, and in Meghalaya and Nagaland it is a respectable 63 percent each. Mandatory 3 year practice for judicial Services Examination

The Madhya Pradesh Judicial Service Rule Amendment and concerns

These Rules have been introduced at a time when Madhya Pradesh is plagued with pending cases.

Around four lakh civil cases and around 1.5 million criminal cases are pending.

Thus almost two million pending cases at the district court and taluka level.

The district court level judicial services in Madhya Pradesh have 18 percent vacancies. The introduction of the norms would narrow the number of candidates appearing for the exam.

Further, the amendment has been drafted without an intelligible differentia.

This is, prima facie, a differentiation as there is no standard or uniform marking system in India.

A candidate might score 75 percent aggregate in one university but might find it hard to score 65 percent aggregate in another university where the checking is quite difficult.

So how far can this exception be considered valid? It is more disadvantageous towards students from traditional law universities. These are notorious for awarding low grades to students.

Ambiguity of the Mandate

If a student scores 75 percent marks but prefers to give an improvement exam to make it to 80 percent.

Is that be counted as a first or second attempt?

The exemption for securing 70 per cent marks in the general and OBC categories and 50 percent marks in the SC and ST categories on the “first attempt”.

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