Decided on February 28,2020

UNION OF INDIA Respondents


- (1.)The Constitution envisages a unified judicial system in this country against the backdrop of a federal system of governance in relation to the legislature and executive. Given that the Constitution in Chapter VI, Part VI largely vests the appointment and service conditions of the subordinate judiciary with the Governor, in consultation with the High Court of the respective states, conditions of service were often found to be asymmetrical within the country. This prompted the All India Judges Association to approach this Court by filing a writ petition.
(2.)This Court in All India Judges Association v. Union of India (1992) 1 SCC 119, inter alia considered questions as to pay scales and service conditions of the members of the subordinate judiciary. It directed the states and the union territories to separately examine and review the pay structure of judicial officers as and when the states constitute pay commissions for its employees. Various states and the Union of India filed review petitions against the directions given in the aforesaid judgment and these objections were disposed of by judgment reported as All India Judges Association v. Union of India (1993) 4 SCC 288. This Court specifically held that judicial service is not a service in the sense of 'employment' and judges are not employees. It held that parity in terms of conditions of service is to be maintained between the political executive, the legislators and the judges and between the judges and the administrative staff. The Court held that although service conditions were to be regulated by Rules made under Art. 309 to 312 of the Constitution, it does not mean that the judiciary will not have any say with respect to its service conditions. The Court, speaking through Sawant J., held,
"8. This distinction between the Judges and the members of the other services has to be constantly kept in mind for yet another important reason. Judicial independence cannot be secured by making mere solemn proclamations about it. It has to be secured both in substance and in practice. It is trite to say that those who are in want cannot be free. Self-reliance is the foundation of independence. The society has a stake in ensuring the independence of the judiciary, and no price is too heavy to secure it. To keep the Judges in want of essential accoutrements and thus to impede them in the proper discharge of their duties, is to impair and whittle away justice itself."

(3.)The Court therefore recommended that the service conditions of the judicial officers should be laid down and reviewed from time to time by an independent Commission exclusively constituted for the purpose, and the composition of such Commission should reflect adequate representation on behalf of the judiciary.

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