Even though the lowermost tier of the judiciary is the first point of contact for most litigants and handle the largest volume of cases, systemic issues in this tier are relatively disregarded. In this context, we decided to examine the selection and training process for the Civil Judges and Judicial Magistrates in India. Post the All India Judges Association v. Union of India judgment by the Supreme Court, in 2002, law graduates do not require any experience at the Bar to be eligible to compete and enter the judicial service. Candidates only need to hone the requisite skills to ace a competitive examination for becoming a judicial officer. Most candidates train at coaching centres in a bid to crack the competitive examinations. One year of training at the state judicial academies was mandated by the apex court to compensate for the lack of this professional experience. There is however very little literature available on how this Bar experience requirement was removed from the eligibility criteria, and about the workings of the state judicial academies. This report delves into the functions discharged by the judicial officers, the critical nature of professional legal experience prior to holding office, debate around the Bar practice requirement and the issues revolving around the recruitment process conducted by the states.From RTI responses and transcripts of personal interviews of sitting judicial officers, the report concludes with a qualitative compilation of how academies are ill-equipped to train judges, methods of teaching utilised towards training, and the inadequacies of clinical legal education in these academies.
Prashant Reddy T. is a Senior Resident Fellow with the Judicial Reforms team. His areas of interest include judicial reforms, intellectual property law and drug regulation. He has a B.A.LLB (Hons.) degree from the National Law School of India University and a LLM degree from Stanford Law School. Prashant was awarded the Tata Scholarship by the J.N. Tata Endowment for pursuing his LLM. He is the co-author of ‘Create, Copy, Disrupt: India’s Intellectual Property Dilemmas’ which was published by Oxford University Press. He has been published in peer reviewed academic journals in India and abroad, as well as in newspapers, national magazines and digital platforms such as the Hindu, Indian Express, Business Standard, Economic Times, Caravan, Open, Scroll, Wire, Hoot, Bloomberg Quint and Live Law. He previously blogged for SpicyIP which is India’s leading blog on intellectual property law. Link to full bio
Reshma is a Research Fellow with the Judicial Reforms team. At Vidhi, her research has been on areas of judiciary that need systematic reform focusing on general issues relating to physical infrastructure of the lower judiciary, training of judges, working of central tribunals, and,specific issues of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court involving case pendency, disposal, court administration and management. Outside her core area of work, she is interested in data design, visualisation and information architecture. Reshma graduated with a B.A.LL.B (Hons.) degree from the National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Cochin in 2015. Prior to joining Vidhi, she worked at Wipro Technologies as an in-house counsel for the Legal and Compliance team. Link to full bio
Vagda is an Associate Fellow with the Judicial Reforms vertical. She is currently analysing the quality of training delivered to entry-level judicial officers in India. Research areas of her interest include legislative powers and practices. Vagda graduated with a B.A.LLB(Hons.) degree from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad. She has been previously published with the Economic and Political Weekly and the Wire. Upon graduating, she worked with Pathak and Associates, New Delhi. Prior to joining Vidhi, she assisted Amit Anand Tiwari, Advocate-on-Record and appeared before the Supreme Court in a range of constitutional and civil matters. She is passionate about conservation of cultural property and in her spare time, likes to read about strategic affairs. Link to full bio