Working conditions of Judicial Officers

In All India Judges Association v. Union of India (1992) 1 SCC 119, Supreme Court had issued certain directions in regard to the working conditions of Judicial Officers and benefits to be extended to the members of subordinate judiciary.

After considering reports submitted by the Law Commission and the relevant provisions of the Constitution, the following directions were issued by this Court;

(i) An All India Judicial Service should be set up and the Union of India should take appropriate steps in this regard.

(ii) Steps should be taken to bring about uniformity in designation of officers both in civil and the criminal side by March 31, 1993.

(iii) Retirement age of judicial officers be raised to 60 years and appropriate steps are to be taken by December 31, 1992.

(iv) As and when the Pay Commissions/ Committees are set up in the States and Union Territories, the question of appropriate pay scales of judicial officers be specifically referred and considered.

(v) A working library at the residence of every judicial officer has to be provided by June 30, 1992. Provision for sumptuary allowance as stated has to be made.

(vi) Residential accommodation to every judicial officer has to be provided and until State accommodation is available, government should provide requisitioned accommodation for them in the manner indicated by December 31, 1992. In providing residential accommodation, availability of an office room should be kept in view.

(vii) Every District Judge and Chief Judicial Magistrate should have a State vehicle, judicial officers in sets of five should have a pool vehicle and others would be entitled to suitable loans to acquire two wheeler automobiles within different time limits as specified.

(viii) In-service Institute should be set up within one year at the Central and State or Union territory level.

The directions were thus essentially for the evolvement of appropriate national policy by the Government in regard to service conditions of Judicial Officers. On March 21, 1996, pursuant to the above directions issued by this Court, the Government of India constituted First National Judicial Pay Commission under the Chairmanship of Mr. Justice K.J. Shetty (known as ‘Shetty Commission’). One of the tasks of the Commission was to restructure judicial cadres and amalgamation of multiple cadres into three uniform cadres. So far as the cadre of Judges of Small Causes Courts is concerned, after taking into consideration the grievance of the Judges of Small Causes Courts in Maharashtra and Gujarat, the Commission observed: “It seems to us that question of equation of Small Causes Court Judges must be left to the decision of each High Court since there is no uniformity in their cadres. In some States, Civil Judge (Junior Division) are empowered to exercise Small Causes Court jurisdiction and that too on varied terms. In Metropolitan Cities, Civil Judges (Senior Division) are having such jurisdiction. It is not desirable to bring about uniformity in their cadres in all States. We, therefore, leave the matter to be examined and decided by the High Court of each State/Union Territory”. (Emphasis supplied) Regarding Chief Judge as well as Additional Chief Judge of Small Causes Courts, however, having regard to their supervisory powers and jurisdiction, the Commission recommended that they should be included in the cadre of District Judges in all States/Union Territories.

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