WHAT IS A JUDGE?
A judge is a public officer, appointed to preside and to administer the law in a court of justice.The judge is charged with the control of court proceedings and the decision of questions of law or discretion. The role of the judges differs in different countries in accordance with the system of law adopted i.e., civil law or common law. Civil-law courts follow an inquisitorial process, where judges take on the primary role of questioning witnesses and bear the duty of uncovering the facts. On the other hand, in common-law courts follow an adversarial process, meaning that the lawyers representing each side play a central role in interrogating witnesses and presenting evidence. India follows the common law system, which provides for the judges to be the neutral deciding party based on the presented facts. A judge, primarily, determines all matters of disputes and pronounces what is law now, as well as what will be the law for the future and acts under the appointment of the Government. There are various judges based on the hierarchy in the court and their designation.
THE OFFICIAL DEFINITION OF JUDGE
The official definition of the term “Judge” is provided in Section 19 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). It states, “The word “Judge” denotes not only every person who is officially designated as a Judge, but also every person,— who is empowered by law to give, in any legal proceeding, civil or criminal, a definitive judgment, or a judgment which, if not appealed against, would be definitive, or a judgment which, if confirmed by some other authority, would be definitive, or who is one of a body of persons, which body of persons is empowered by law to give such a judgment.” A similar definition is also mentioned in Section 2 in the Judges (Protection) Act, 1985.
TYPES OF JUDGES
The hierarchy of judges in India is as follows:
The judges of the Supreme court, including the Chief Justice of India, are appointed by the President but under the ‘collegium’ system developed in Supreme Court jurisprudence during the 1980s and 1990s. The Supreme Court heavily influences the appointments of judges.
(i) Chief Justice of India: The Chief Justice of India is the highest judicial position in India and is appointed by the President of India. The Chief Justice presides over the Supreme Court and is responsible for the overall administration of the Indian judiciary. Article 124(1) of the Indian Constitution provides for the establishment of the office of Chief Justice.
(ii) Supreme Court judges: They are the highest level of judges and are appointed by the President of India.
Qualification for Appointment of Judges in Supreme Court
- The person should be a citizen of India and, has been for at least five years a Judge of a High Court or of two or more such courts in succession; or
- He/She has been for at least ten years an advocate of a High Court or of two or more such courts in succession; or
- He/ She is a distinguished jurist in the opinion of the President
- The Constitution is silent on the point of minimum age of eligibility for such appointments.
Appointment procedure of Supreme Court judges
The Department of Justice under the Ministry of Law and Justice hosts the memorandum of procedure of appointment of Supreme Court Judges in its official website. It provides the procedure for the appointment of Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court judges, Acting chief justice, Ad hoc judges and also provides the procedure required incase of attendance of retired judges in Supreme Court.
High court judges are appointed by the President of India, and they preside over cases in the high courts. The high courts are the second highest level of courts in India and are in each state of the country.
(i) Chief Justice of the High Court: The Government has, in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, decided as a matter of policy to appoint judges from outside the state as Chief Justices of all High Courts. In case of the initial appointment of a Chief Justice of a High Court, the provisions of Article 217 of the Constitution will have to be followed.
(ii) Acting Chief Justice: Appointment of Acting Chief Justices is to be made by the President under Article 223 of the Constitution. Where, however, it is proposed to appoint an Acting Chief Justice, other than the senior most puisne Judge, the procedure for appointment of a regular Chief Justice will have to be followed.
(iii) Additional Judge: Additional Judges can be appointed by the President under clause (1) of Article 224 of the Constitution. The President can appoint duly qualified persons as additional judges of a high court for a temporary period not exceeding two years.
Qualification for the appointment of judges in High Court
- The Person must be a citizen of India and, has for at least ten years held a judicial office in the territory of India; or
- He/ She has for at least ten years been an advocate of a High Court or of two or more such courts in succession.
- The Constitution does not provide any minimum age for eligibility in the appointment of judges to the court.
Appointment procedure of High Court judges
The Department of Justice under the Ministry of Law and Justice hosts the memorandum of procedure of appointment of High Court Judges in its official website. It provides the procedure for the appointment of Chief Justice of the High Court, High Court judges, Acting chief justice of the high court, Ad hoc judges, Acting judges, Permanent judges and also provides the procedure required incase of attendance of retired judges in High Court.
The appointment of judges in the High court is through two ways:
(i) Directly from the Bar for about 66⅔% of vacancies.
(ii) Through the Judicial services for about 33⅓% of vacancies.
The appointment ratio in procedure is pursuant to the resolution passed in the conference of Chief Justices in 1999 and the Supreme Court order in Kuldip Singh v. Union of India.
District Court and Subordinate Courts
District and subordinate Courts consist of judges and judicial officers of the rank of district judge or equivalent thereto and judicial officers of the rank below, including Sessions Judge, Additional district and Sessions Judge, Civil Judge senior division equivalent to additional/Chief Judicial Magistrate or additional/Chief Metropolitan Magistrate on criminal side and, Civil Judge Junior division or Munsiff equivalent to Judicial Magistrate First/Second Class on criminal side.
They are appointed by the Governor of the state at the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the respective state’s High Court. The District judges may have authority over both civil or criminal cases or both. Article 233 of the Indian Constitution mentions the appointment of the District Judges. It also mentions the qualifications which have to be met to be considered for appointment as a District Judge.
For civil cases, the District and Sessions judge is often referred to as “district judge,” while for criminal cases, the District and Sessions judge is referred to as “sessions judge.” In cases where the district judge is presiding over a district court in a city that has been recognised by the state as being in a “metropolitan region,” the district judge is also known as a “metropolitan session judge.” Other courts in the metropolitan region that are subordinate to district court are also referred to with the word “metropolitan” affixed to their customary designations. When the population of a region surpasses one million people or exceeds that amount, the state government in charge of the area designates the area as a metropolitan area.
The hierarchy of district judges in India is as follows:
=> Higher subordinate: The higher subordinate of district judges are the judicial officers who are responsible for hearing appeals from the lower courts. They are typically called district and session judges.
(i) District judge: The district judge is the highest judicial authority in the district. He/she possesses original and appellate jurisdiction in both civil and criminal matters. At the district level, the District Court lies at the apex and is the appellate court for all civil and criminal matters. It also plays a supervisory role over other courts, such as those headed by Civil Judges (Senior Division) and Civil Judges (Junior Division).
Qualification for the appointment of District judges
- The candidate must be a citizen of India.
- The candidate must have a law degree from a recognized university.
- The candidate must have at least seven years of experience as an advocate
- The candidate must have a good character and reputation.
Appointment procedure of District Court Judges
- In its judgment in the All India Judges Association case, the Supreme Court in interpreting the provisions of Article 233 outlined three ways of appointing District Judges:
(a) directly from Bar i.e. through the District Judge (entry level) Exam conducted either by State public service commission or the State High Court for advocates having at least 7 years of practice and who are of 35 yrs age for about 25% of the vacancy .
(b) Through limited departmental competitive examination i.e., for Judicial officers with at least five years of service as Civil judge (Senior Division) or equivalent thereto for about 10% of the vacancy ,
(c) Through time scale promotion for about 65% of the total vacancies. Usually, there is no requirement of a minimum number of years of service. But, some states have prescribed a minimum number of years of service in the previous office.
However, the percentage of vacancies which is dedicated to each source or mode of appointment differs by the State government rules. There is no uniform or rigid percentage distribution incase of appointments. For example, Andhra pradesh appoints based on the percentage ratio of 25:25:50 from direct recruitment, department competitive exam and transfer recruitment respectively incase of vacancies. Other Indian states like Assam, Manipur and Madhya Pradesh also have this breakup of vacancy is 50%, 25% and 25% respectively.
- For Senior Civil Judges and Civil Judges (Junior Division) there are no minimum specified requirements in the Constitution. This gives states considerable leeway to decide on their own. Generally, recruitment to the cadre of Senior Civil Judges occurs through promotion from the Civil Judges (Junior Division) cadre on the basis of merit-cum-seniority, whereas recruitment to the post of Civil Judges (Junior Division) happens via direct recruitment through a competitive examination. There is however wide divergence in practice, and in procedures for appointment across states, especially when it comes to the role of State Public Service Commissions vis-a-vis the High Courts as the conducting authority.
(ii) Additional district judge: The additional district judge is a judicial officer who is appointed to assist the district judge.
Appointment procedure for additional district judge
- The High Court of the state concerned prepares a list of eligible candidates.
- The list is then sent to the Governor of the state for consideration.
- The Governor, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, appoints the additional district judges.
=> Lower subordinate: The lower subordinate of district judges are the judicial officers who are responsible for hearing and deciding cases at the initial stages. On the civil side, the Subordinate Judge’s Court is located below the District and Sessions Court, while on the criminal side, the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court is located beneath the District and Sessions Court. The Court of Munsiff, on the civil side, and the Court of Judicial Magistrate, on the criminal side, are the lowest levels.
(iii) Sub-judge: The sub-judge is a judicial officer who is responsible for hearing and deciding cases at the first level. He/she is typically called a munsif.
(iv) Judicial magistrate: The judicial magistrate is a judicial officer who is responsible for hearing and deciding cases at the first level. He/she is typically called a judicial magistrate of first class or judicial magistrate of second class.
Appointment procedure for lower subordinate judges
- The Governor of the State appoints judicial officers other than district judges in accordance with rules issued by him in that regard, after consulting with the State Public Service Commission and the High Court of such state.
- The scheme for such judicial appointments to Subordinate Courts is outlined in the Judicial Service Rules enacted by the Governors of the several States in accordance with Articles 233 and 234 of the Indian Constitution.Therefore the process, manner and mechanism thereof are governed by such rules.
Role of State Public Service Commission in the appointment of Subordinate Courts
Article 234 provides for recruitment of persons other than district judges to the judicial service. Appointments of persons other than district judges to the judicial service of a State shall be made by the Governor of the State in accordance with rules made by him on that behalf after consultation with the State Public Service Commission and with the High Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to such States.The role of the state public service commission (SPSC) in the appointment of judges varies from state to state. In some states, the SPSC is responsible for the entire appointment process, while in other states, the SPSC only plays a limited role while the State High is responsible and handles the appointment. In the states where the SPSC is responsible for the entire appointment process, the SPSC typically shortlist candidates based on their merit and then recommend a panel of candidates to the governor. The governor then appoints one of the candidates from the panel. The role of the SPSC in the appointment of subordinate judges is important because it ensures that the appointment process is fair and transparent. The SPSC is an independent body that is not influenced by political considerations. This means that the SPSC can select the most qualified candidates for the post of district judge, regardless of their political affiliation.
APPEARANCES IN OFFICIAL DATA SITES
- E-courts websites :The E-courts website is an integrated website for easy access to various courts i.e., The Supreme Court, High courts and District courts.
- E-courts Website for District Court: The website gives access to information related to the judges, cases, etc in all the courts in various districts.
- High Court Websites : The High Court specific websites provide expansive information which includes things like Causelist, Judgements, Recruitment notices,etc. They also include information on the roster of judges, a list of current judges, past judges and information on any kind of vacancy.
- Supreme Court of India Website: The website for the Supreme Court of India provides the information pertaining about the cases, Judges Roster, Judge Benches, etc. The website provides the profile of current judges which includes their date of birth, educational background, judicial journey, the term of their office, etc.
- Department of Justice Website: The Department of Justice website provides information on all the latest updates relating to the orders, notices, etc the appointment, transfers, retirement, etc of the Judges.
- Integrated Government Online Directory The Integrated Government online Directory is a single source of information to all the Government websites. The Judiciary category in the Directory provides access for not just the e-courts website of Supreme Court, High Court and District Court, it also provides links to the various tribunals websites which holds all the information of the Court in general and the appointed Judicial officers.
RESEARCH THAT ENGAGES WITH THE CONCEPT OF JUDGE
- Upendra Baxi in his essay "On How Not to Judge the Judges: Notes Towards Evaluation of the Judicial Role," argues that the traditional methods of evaluating the performance of judges are inadequate. He suggests that a more holistic approach is needed, one that takes into account the social and political context in which judges operate.Baxi critiques the "activist" and "formalist" models of judicial role.Baxi argues that this more contextual approach would provide a more accurate and realistic assessment of the judicial role. It would also help to ensure that judges are held accountable for their decisions, while at the same time respecting their independence and authority.Baxi's essay has been influential in the field of legal theory.
- The paper "Appointment Of Judges In Indian Higher Judiciary" by Trapti Aggarwal and Dr. Narendra Bahadur Singh discusses the process of appointment of judges in the higher judiciary in India. The article provides a valuable overview of the appointment process in India and the challenges that it faces.
- The paper "Shaping of Future Judges: Tasks, Challenges and Strategies" by N.R. Madhava Menon discusses the challenges and strategies involved in shaping the future judges of India. The article outlines the tasks that future judges will need to perform, which include upholding the rule of law, protecting the rights of the people, and resolving complex legal disputes. The article also discusses the challenges that future judges will face, which include the increasing complexity of the law, the growing number of cases, and the politicization of the judiciary. The article provides a valuable overview of the challenges and strategies involved in shaping the future judges of India.
- The report "Calculating Judges' Strength in India: A Time-Based Weighted Caseload Approach" by Daksh discusses the different methods that have been proposed to calculate the ideal number of judges required in India.The study argues that the time-based weighted caseload method is the best approach, as it takes into account the different types of cases that are filed in court and the amount of time it takes to dispose of them.The author also argues that this method is more accurate than the judge to population ratio method.
- The report "Schooling the Judges" by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy discusses the role of state judicial academies in India. The academies are responsible for providing training to new judges, as well as refresher training to sitting judges. It examines the challenges of providing practical or clinical training to fresh law graduates who lack any experience practicing at the bar.The document discusses the history of state judicial academies in India. It also discusses the curriculum of the academies which typically includes courses on constitutional law, criminal law, civil procedure, and evidence. The academies also offer courses on practical skills, such as drafting judgments and conducting hearings.The document then discusses the challenges of providing practical or clinical training to fresh law graduates who lack any experience practicing at the bar. The authors argue that these challenges can be overcome by providing judges with opportunities to observe actual court proceedings and to participate in mock trials.The document concludes by discussing the future of state judicial academies in India. The article argues that the academies play an important role in the Indian justice system, and they call for increased investment in the academies.
- The India Justice Report offers a comprehensive collection of data that officials and policymakers can utilize to gain insights into the various components of the justice system in their state. It helps identify weaknesses within the system, allowing them to take necessary measures to address and rectify these shortcomings. The report specifically examines judge vacancies, the workload and backlog of cases handled by judges, and the number of judgments rendered by them. Its aim is to enhance the overall administration of justice within the state.
- The report "Ranking of Lower Judiciary in India 2017" by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy ranks the lower judiciary in India on the basis of 10 indicators, including the number of judges per 100,000 people, the average age of judges, the number of vacancies, and the pendency of cases. The report recognises that there are too few judges, the average age of judges is high, and there are many vacancies. This has led to a backlog of cases, some of which have been pending for over 10 years. The report also makes a number of recommendations to improve the lower judiciary, including increasing the number of judges, reducing the average age of judges, filling vacancies, reducing the pendency of cases, and improving the training of judges on the basis of the lacunae observed by the report.
- A comparitive report on "Performance Evaluation and Promotion Schemes of Judicial Officers in India" by Prof. Srikrishna Deva Rao, Dr. Rangin Pallav Tripathy and Ms. Eluckiaa A, aims to make a comparitive study on the appointment and promotion scheme of Judicial officers in Indian states. The empirical research focuses on understanding the categories of judges and the scheme of promotion to the higher subordinate judiciary. It analyses the state-wise the norms followed in the divison of judges and their positions in the heirarchy of the subordinate judiciary i.e., District Judges and below. It majorly focuses on the recruitment of judges in the judicial system. It draws a comparitive through the data and draws the recommendations for effective uniform system across the states.
- The KHOJ initiative by Justice Hub is a project that aims to increase transparency and accountability in the Indian judiciary by making data about High Court judges more accessible to the public. The project was launched in 2019, and it has since collected data on over 4,000 High Court judges.The data that is collected by KHOJ includes information about the judges' educational background,date of birth, gender, professional experience which includes the judge's previous positions, such as district judge or advocate general, and judicial decisions i.e., the judge's decisions on a variety of cases, such as criminal cases, civil cases, and constitutional cases which provides the expertise and experience of the judges.The data is collected from a variety of sources, including the websites of the High Courts, the Supreme Court, and the Law Commission of India.
- Data availability: The data on High Court judges is scattered across a variety of sources, including official websites of the High Courts, legal databases, and news articles. This makes it difficult to collect and curate the data in a timely and efficient manner. For example, the official websites of the High Courts often do not contain comprehensive information about the judges, and the information that is available may be outdated or inaccurate. Legal databases and news articles may contain more comprehensive information, but they are often difficult to search and the information may not be in a consistent format. The data on judges in India is often not transparent or accessible to the public. This can make it difficult to track the career paths of judges, to identify patterns in judicial decision-making, and to investigate allegations of judicial misconduct.
- Data quality: The data on High Court judges is often incomplete, inaccurate, and inconsistent. This is due to a number of factors, including the lack of a centralized repository for judicial data, the absence of standard data formats, and the lack of resources for data cleaning and curation. For example, the data on the official websites of the High Courts may not be up-to-date, and the data in legal databases and news articles may be inconsistent. Additionally, the data on High Court judges may be incomplete, as it may not include information about all of the judges or all of the relevant variables.
- Data privacy: The data on High Court judges contains sensitive personal information, such as date of birth, religion, and marital status. This raises concerns about data privacy and the protection of personal information. For example, the data on High Court judges may include information about the judges' political affiliations or their membership in professional associations. This information could be used to discriminate against the judges or to harm their reputation.
The KHOJ( Know Your High Court Judge) dataset addressed the following challenges by using a variety of methods, including:
- Data collection: The team used a variety of methods to collect data on High Court judges, including web scraping, manual data entry, and crowdsourcing.
- Data cleaning: The team used a variety of techniques to clean and curate the data, including data validation, data normalization, and data deduplication.
- Data privacy: The team took steps to protect the privacy of the data, such as anonymizing the data and using data encryption.
ALSO KNOWN AS/ SYNONYMOUS TERMS
The term “Judge” is used unanimously for most kinds of judicial officers by the general public. Judges in district courts are generally referred to as judicial officers. A Magistrate exercising jurisdiction in respect of a charge on which he has power only to commit for trial to another Court is not considered as a judge. An executive magistrate is also not considered as a judge.
The terms "munsiff" and "judge" are often used interchangeably in India, but there are some important differences between the two. Munsiffs are appointed by the state government, while judges are appointed by the President of India/Governor of the State.
There is a notable difference between Members of the Tribunals and Judges of the Indian Judiciary, the members of a tribunal consist of both the Judicial members and technical members(expert members). The technical members may be selected from departments of the central government as well as from various other fields of expertise.The presence of technical members along with judicial members is a key feature of tribunals which distinguishes them from traditional courts. The judicial members can include Judges of High court, Retired judges, or lawyers with expertise.
- Todd v. United States  158 U.S. 278
- S.D. Joshi v. High Court of Bombay  1 SCC 252.
- The Constitution of India, art. 124.
- First Judges Case: S P Gupta Vs. Union of India And Ors, AIR 1982 SC 149; Second Judges Case: Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association Vs. Union of India (1993) 4 SCC 441; Third Judges Case: In Re Special Reference Case, AIR 1999 SC 1.
- The Constitution of India, art. 124(2).
- The Constitution of India,art. 124(3).
- The Constitution of India, art. 217.
- The Constitution of India, art. 217(2).
- AIR 2002 SC 2041.
- The Constitution of India, art. 236(a).
- The Constitution of India, art. 233(2).
- All India Judges Association vs. Union of India & Ors (2010) 15 SCC 170.
- Minimum number of years requirement: Andhra Pradesh - The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has prescribed a minimum of 10 years of service as a sessions judge for time scale promotion to the post of district judge.Whereas, Bihar, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha: The High Courts have prescribed a minimum of 8 years of service as a sessions judge for time scale promotion to the post of district judge.
- The Andhra Pradesh State Judicial Service Rules, 2007.
- Rao, Prof. Srikrisha Deva and Tripathy, Rangin and A, Eluckiaa, "Performance Evaluation and Promotion Schemes of Judicial Officers in India: A Comparative Report" (2018).
- The Constitution of India.
- Upendra Baxi, “On how not to judge the judges: Notes towards evaluation of the Judicial Role” 25 Journal of Indian Law Institute 211 (1983).
- T. Aggarwal and N.B. Singh,"APPOINTMENT OF JUDGES IN INDIAN HIGHER JUDICIARY" 6 Journal of Positive School Psychology 2642- 2652 (2022).
- N. R. M Menon, "Shaping of Future Judges: Tasks, Challenges and Strategies" 1(1) Journal of National Law University Delhi 49–62 (2013).
- DAKSH, "Calculating Judges’ Strength in India: A Time-Based Weighted Caseload Approach" (2020).
- Vidhi: Centre for Legal Policy, "Schooling the Judges:The Selection and Training of Civil Judges and Judicial Magistrates" (December, 2019).
- India Justice Report: Ranking States on Police, Judiciary, Prisons and Legal Aid (2022).
- Vidhi:Centre for Legal Policy, "Ranking Lower Court Appointments" (October,2017)
- Rao, Prof. Srikrisha Deva and Tripathy, Rangin and A, Eluckiaa, "Performance Evaluation and Promotion Schemes of Judicial Officers in India: A Comparative Report" (2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4160874 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4160874
- Sinha, S. (2019). Data-driven accountability in the Indian judiciary. Economic and Political Weekly, 54(40), 63-69.
- Shukla, S. (2021). Access to judicial data: Challenges and opportunities. Indian Law Institute.
- The Indian Penal Code, s. 19(d).
- L. Chandra Kumar versus Union of India and Ors., AIR 1997 SC 1125.
- Union of India vs R. Gandhi and Ors., 2010 (261) ELT3 SC.