This article is written by Srilakshmi S P, a student of JSS Law College, Mysuru. This article explains the job of a judge who is respectable and admired in India and the eligibility to be hired as a judge coupled with duties and responsibilities.
Table of Contents
Judges play a vital role in interpreting the sections of the statutes and articles of the Constitution. A judge is a person who can exercise and enforce laws within a limited jurisdiction. They hold the public office vested with the authority to hear, determine and preside over legal matters brought into the court of law. The term ‘Judge’ is defined in many statutes such as the Code of Civil Procedure, Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure. Judges ensure that there is a fair trial and the verdict is delivered at the end of the case. Judges protect the dignity of the court in society without any bias and dicey situation.
Eligibility to become a Judge
The common criteria to become Judge are:
- They must be citizens of India;
- Should have LL.B/LL.M degree from a college recognised by the Bar Council of India;
- If the appointment is through examination he/she should have secured a minimum of 55% in the final examination.
Eligibility of persons to appear for the exam
- Advocates, Attorneys and Pleaders;
- Fresh Law graduates;
- Members of Ministerial Staff of High Court;
- Members of Staff working as Legal Assistant or above in the Law and Judiciary Department in the Government;
- Members of Ministerial Staff of the Government.
To become Chief Justice of India
- They should be the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court and should be considered fit to hold the office.
- The Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs should seek the recommendation of the outgoing Chief Justice at an appropriate time.
To become Supreme Court Judge
Article 124(2) of the Constitution of India provides the appointment of the Supreme Court Judge.
- They should be a High Court Judge for 5 years or should practice as an advocate in High Court for 10 years.
- If it appears to the President of India that they are an exceptional jurist.
- They should be below the age of 65 years.
Article 128 of the Constitution of India provides for the attendance of retired judges of the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice of India with the consent of the President of India can appoint a retired judge of the Supreme Court or retired judge of the High Court as a Supreme Court judge if they possess all the qualifications to become a sitting judge of the Supreme Court.
To become High Court Judge
Article 217(2) of the Constitution of India provides the appointment of High Court Judges.
- They should have held judicial office for 10 years in India. Judicial Office also includes Tribunals that requires special knowledge of the law.
- They should practice as an advocate in the High Court or two or more of such courts for 10 years.
- The Constitution has not provided any age limits for the retirement of the High Court Judge but generally, it is 62 years as mentioned in the High Court Judges (Salaries and Condition of Services) Act,1954.
For Subordinate Courts
Article 233 of the Constitution of India provides the appointment of District Court Judge
- For the appointment of a district judge, the respective state governor makes the appointment in consultation with the High Court and State Public Service Commission. SPSC conducts the competitive exam for recruitment of the judges which includes Preliminary Examination, Mains Examination and interview.
Bar Council of India and all the State Bar Councils have strongly favoured 3 years minimum experience at the Bar to be prescribed for being considered eligible to sit for a Judicial Service Exam. The Andhra Pradesh Public Service Commission has notified the same on 3-12-2020 and the notification has been challenged in the Supreme Court of India through a writ petition.
- Should be a practising advocate or pleader for 7 years.
- Regular promotion by merit-cum-seniority basis from civil Judges (Senior Division).
- Accelerated promotion where competitive exams will be held among civil judges (Senior Division) with a minimum of five years of service.
As per Section 17 of the Code of Criminal procedure(CrPC), Metropolitan Magistrate and Additional Metropolitan Magistrate are appointed by the High Court of the respective State. Metropolitan areas are those areas where the population exceeds more than one million and the State government declares and notifies the same.
As per Section 12 of the Code of Criminal procedure (CrPC) Chief Judicial Magistrate and Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate are appointed by the High Court of the respective jurisdiction.
As per Section 11 of the Code of Criminal procedure (CrPC), the Judicial Magistrate First Class and Judicial Magistrate Second Class are appointed. They are appointed by the State Government after consultation with the High Court of the respective State by notification.
The role of a Judge
- To settle the civil disputes of two private parties.
- To determine the guilt of the person charged with offences and to punish for the same.
- To adjudicate the disputes between the State and the citizen.
- Judges have the power of judicial review when the legislation goes beyond the basic spirit of the Constitution.
- To interpret and construe the laws according to the statute passed by the legislature, so there is consistency with the law by filing omissions, correcting uncertainties and harmonising the results with the demand of justice through a method of free decision.
Court’s inference in a judge’s role
M.C. Mehta v. Union of India 1987
The Supreme Court in this case showed judicial innovation which showed that the judges leave their footprints on the sands of the nation’s legal history. A judge should be prepared to receive light from whatever source it comes from, build up its jurisprudence, evolve new principles and lay down new norms which would adequately deal with the problems which arise in an industrial economy.
Ram Murthy Yadav v. State of Uttar Pradesh and another 2019
The Supreme Court in this case held that during discharge of the judicial function, an error of judgment in deciding a criminal case will not lead to an inference of dishonesty or lakh of integrity. Only if it is found that the judgement was based on capricious grounds, vitiated by malafides, overlooks relevant materials, could there be limited scope for interference. Judicial service is not like any other service. A person discharging judicial duties acts on behalf of the State in the discharge of its sovereign functions. Dispensation of justice is not only an onerous duty but has been considered as akin to the discharge of a pious duty, and therefore, is a very serious matter. The standards of probity, conduct, integrity that may be relevant for discharge of duties by a careerist in another job cannot be the same for a judicial officer. A judge holds the office of public trust. Impeccable integrity, unimpeachable independence with moral values embodied to the core are absolute imperatives that bring no compromise. A judge is the pillar of the entire justice system and the public has a right to demand virtually irreproachable conduct from anyone performing a judicial function. Judges must strive for the highest standards of integrity in both their professional and personal lives.
Central Public Information Officer, Supreme Court of India v. Subhash Chandra Agarwal (2020)
It was held that a judge’s public fiduciary obligation towards the citizen includes a duty of loyalty, duty of care and the cluster comprising the duties of candour, disclosure and accounting. And it includes remaining impartial towards the litigants before them. The duty of care includes the expectation from judges to fulfil their responsibilities with reasonable diligence and to engage in reason-based decision making. The duty of disclosure and accounting includes maintaining judicial transparency and judicial honesty.
Judges’ duties and responsibilities
- The main duty of the judge is to uphold the law and see justice is served.
- A judge should discharge the duties without any ill-will, fear, favour or affection.
- A judge should hear the allegation of both Plaintiff and Defendant in civil suits, and Accused and Prosecution in the criminal case.
- A judge can question the witness during the testimony.
- Judges should not act arbitrarily and should treat both parties equally and impartially.
- A judge should give the fullest opportunity to the advocate to present the case.
- Judges should respect the prerogative of the Bar.
- Judges should not get influenced by any circumstances except law and justice.
- Judges should avoid contestable manners or tone when there is a controversial case in the court.
- A judge should have a calm temperament and should not interrupt the counsel and witness during the argument and examination.
- Judges can also issue opinions and case decisions that set the precedent.
Benefits and allowances for Judges
Each Judge from higher courts and subordinate courts are eligible for benefits and allowances which are determined by the Parliament and State Legislature from time to time. Some of the benefits are:
- Dearness allowance;
- House rent allowance;
- Travel allowance;
- Electricity Bills;
- Phone Bills;
- Vehicle Maintenance;
- Pension after retirement;
- Grade pay and allowance;
- A house to live in with a security guard.
The allowance, benefits and salaries of the Supreme Court Judges are provided in the Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1958, and for High Court Judges its provided under the High Court Judges ( Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1954 which includes sumptuary allowance, leave allowances, extraordinary pension, exemption of payment of income-tax on certain perquisites and conveyance facilities.
Employment opportunities for a Judge
The judges act as presiding officers of the court to adjudicate the matters pending before the Court of law during their serving period.
After retirement, the job roles of the Judges are depending on their last served cadre of office.
- Heads of Commission and governor of State.
- Appointments are made in Tribunals, commissions, ad-hoc Committees, government positions like that of Lokayukta.
- Appointments are made in the National Human Rights Commission, Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Armed Forces Tribunal, Law Commission of India.
- Appointment in Dispute Resolution System like Arbitration.
Restriction of employment opportunity for judges
- As per Article 124, any person who has acted as judge of the Supreme Court is not eligible to plead or act in any court or any authority throughout the territory of India.
- As per Article 220, any person who has acted as a High Court Judge cannot plead in any court or authority throughout the territory of India except the Supreme Court.
First Law Commission,1955 made some recommendations in the report that:
- Judges of the higher judiciary should not hold any government job after retirement.
- If appointed they should keep in mind that their conduct even post-retirement is crucial to preserve people’s faith in the judiciary.
All India Judicial Service
Article 233 of the Indian Constitution provides for the setting up of AIJS. The main aim of constituting ALJS is to fill the vacancies in the judiciary and to settle the pending cases. But it faces many constitutional obstacles. The main advantage of the AIJS is that the more judges will be appointed as per the population ratio, there will be higher representation of the marginalised sections of the society, abled and accomplished persons will become part of the higher judiciary, it reduces corruption and nepotism in the judiciary. Some of the disadvantages are the basic idea of federalism will be violated as provided in the Constitution, which causes a language barrier as India is a linguistic country. The article does not provide for the appointment of judges through ALJS below that of a district judge. And lastly, the High Courts lose the power of controlling subordinate courts which affects judicial independence.
Thus becoming a judge is a prestigious and esteemed position in society. And it is also the best mode to serve the country by upholding the laws and Constitution of the country. The evolution of the judicial decisions in the recent past according to the facts and circumstances of the cases to the changing society have made a greater impact on building an honourable position of the Judges. By making difficult and suitable decisions the judges have retained the spirits of the people in the society.
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