Controversy of Experience among Judicial Officers : A Subtle BCI Approach
LL.M., Banaras Hindu University
“Judicial Officers not having practical experience at the bar are mostly found to be incapable and inept in handing matters and it the primary reason for delay in disposal of cases in lower courts.”
-Bar Council of India (BCI)
Bar Council of India (BCI), the statutory body constituted under Sec. 4 of the Advocates Act, 1961, poked its nose through an impediment application before Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matters of Mr. Regalagadda Venkatesh v. State of Andhra Pradesh (W.P No. 1479/2020) in which the petitioner alleged that the controversial notification (9/2020-RC) by Andhra Pradesh Public Service Commission for appointment of Civil Judges Junior Division in which 3 years of experience at Bar was sought, to be called unwarranted. BCI pleaded that there is an urgent requirement of 3 year of experience at bar for these officers to gain practical knowledge, conduct, politeness and decency. But, there are several grounds which show that this childish behaviour of BCI is nothing but a contentious step.
a) The Illogical Interference - 1st and foremost glitch regarding this impleadment application is the controversial approach of this statutory body which was made for regulation and welfare of advocates as well as advocates right, but not to decide the criteria for an exam for appointment of judges which are conducted by state public services commission, also when the frameworks for All India Judicial Exams are being framed. Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of All India Judges Association & Ors. v. UOI had also held that there is no bar of experience in the appointment of judges in lower judiciary.
Image Credits: Getty Images/Hindustan Times
b) The So Called Practical Knowledge - As per BCI this 3 year experience must be made compulsory in the appointment of Judicial Officers throughout India as the judicial officers who are appointed till now do not possess requisite practical knowledge even though they have 20 weeks of mandatory internship during their 5 year course. India has witnessed the well known Apex Court Judge, Justice Kuldeep Singh who was a professor and well known jurist and not an advocate having 3 year of experience at bar. Also, BCI should possess some concrete rules first for advocates regarding practical knowledge.
c) Justice Delayed is Justice Denied- As per BCI the so called cause for the delay of cases in the lower courts is because of the inexperienced judges. But there is nothing called training of most of the advocates who in spite of rule of 3 adjournments, seeks these in millions. The main reason behind this delay is the lack of judges in comparison to the number of cases not the inexperience. Preparation for judiciary will become nothing but a nightmare after compulsory 3 year experience due to age and leading to degradation in the number and quality of judges.
d) The period Dichotomy – BCI has alleged that the judicial Officers must possess 3 years of experience but there is no answer why the criteria of 3 years has been made sufficient for them. Wasn’t the 20 weeks of internship sufficient to gain politeness and decency? Isn’t a passed judicial officer be given 6 month training at lower courts to gain so called practical knowledge? The illogical comparison of 7 years experience as applied in Higher Judiciary (HJS) or 10 years experience for HC and SC judges nowhere stands when it comes to the lower judiciary. Also, a civil judge appointed at the age of 33 can’t even think of becoming a district Judge or being promoted as High Court Judge before his/her retirement.
e) The Age Factor- Generally after the completion of LL.B (3/5 yr) the candidate is of 23 years (assuming there is no gap in his studies), it will take 3 more years to gain experience for sitting in such exams. If a candidate posses to do Masters (LL.M) and then prepare of Judicial Services, he will be in his 30s. Also, BCI before this mockery must remember the amount of family/ social pressure a female candidate or a first generation advocate will have in his/her 30s just because BCI wants them to be polite.
f) Entrance Examination Method- The statutory body which conducts an open book exam called All India Bar Exam (AIBE) for being eligible as practicing advocates throughout India also questioned about the conduct, politeness and decency of the candidates without experience which are selected from an year long entrance exam covering Preliminary, Mains and Personality Test. Also, it will become impossible for any candidate to prepare for judicial services exams with gaining so called practical experience as advocate. May be BCI will further recommend an open book exam of judicial services too raising the standards of current exam modes.
Thus, In a nutshell this subtle approach of BCI is just an acute case of illegal interference in the other organs to show its supremacy and to have forced enrolments.
(Views expressed are purely personal and Legal Angles does not take any responsibility of the views of the Author)