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District Judiciary

  • 26 May 2023
  • 5 min read

For Prelims: District judiciary, Supreme Court

For Mains: Significance of the district judiciary in India's judicial system, Importance of financial security and independence for judicial officers' impartiality.

Why in News?

The Supreme Court of India has emphasized the crucial role of the district judiciary in upholding justice and declared its independence as an integral part of the Constitution's basic structure.

  • In a recent judgment, the court underscored the need for judicial independence from the executive and legislature, including matters of finances.
  • The judgment, based on a petition filed by the All-India Judges Association, has led to significant directions and recommendations for the district judiciary's functioning and welfare.

What is the District Judiciary?

  • About:
    • The district judiciary refers to the judicial system at the district level in India. It is the first level of the judiciary and is responsible for hearing and deciding on cases at the local level.
    • The district judiciary is composed of district courts and other lower courts, which are presided over by district judges and other judicial officers.
  • Constitutional Provisions
    • Articles 233-237 of the Indian Constitution deal with the provisions related to subordinate courts.
      • Article 233:
        • Deals with the appointment of district judges. Appointments of persons to be, and the posting and promotion of, district judges in any State shall be made by the Governor of the State in consultation with the High Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to such State.
      • Article 234:
        • Deals with the recruitment of persons other than district judges to the judicial service.
      • Article 235:
        • Deals with the control over district courts and courts subordinate thereto including the posting and promotion of, and the grant of leave to, persons belonging to the judicial service of a State and holding any post inferior to the post of district judge shall be vested in the High Court.
      • Article 236:
        • Defines the term "judicial service".
      • Article 237:
        • Empowers the Governor to apply the provisions of this Chapter to any class or classes of magistrates in a State.
  • Importance of district judiciary:
    • The district judiciary performs an important role in upholding the rule of law. The district judiciary plays a vital role in achieving the preambular goal of justice by ensuring access to justice for litigants.
    • The district judiciary, being the most accessible court for litigants, serves as the primary interface between the justice system and the people.

What is the SC Judgement?

  • Independence of District Judiciary:
    • The Supreme Court declares the independence of the district judiciary as a crucial part of the Constitution's basic structure.
    • Access to justice, a preambular goal, would remain illusory without impartial and independent judges at the grassroots level.
  • No Longer "Subordinate":
    • The term "subordinate judiciary" rejected as it misrepresents the constitutional position of a district judge.
      • The constitution recognizes and protects district judges as vital components of the judicial system.
    • Greater respect should be accorded to the district judiciary and its contributions.
  • Recognition of District Judiciary's Importance:
    • District judiciary plays a vital role in upholding the rule of law and delivering justice.
    • Handles approximately 1.13 million cases daily, making it the most accessible court for litigants.
    • Showed efficiency in functioning even during the pandemic, ensuring timely delivery of justice.
  • Financial Security and Economic Independence for Judicial Officers:
    • Independence of judicial officers serving in the district judiciary is vital to the judicial system.
    • Financial security and economic independence of judicial officers are essential to maintain their impartiality.
    • Judicial officers have been working without a pay revision for nearly 15 years.
  • Recommendations and Directions:
    • Enhanced salary, pension, and other retiral benefits ordered for judicial officers.
    • The pay of judicial officers should be stand-alone and not compared to staff in the political executive or legislature.
    • Incentives and promotion opportunities are needed to maintain the high level of functioning of the judiciary.

Source: TH

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