Schooling the Judges: The Selection and Training of Civil Judges and Judicial Magistrates
A review of the appointment and training process of entry level judicial officers
Summary: The report looks at the role and responsibilities of Civil Judges and Judicial Magistrates in the Indian justice system and examines whether the current recruitment and training mechanisms allow for the selection of the best judges.
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.