Chief Justice of India
Chief Justice of India (CJI) is appointed by the President on the advice of the Council of Ministers in consultation with the judges of Supreme court and High courts, if necessary. It was convention that the senior most judge of the Supreme Court would be appointed Chief Justice. This convention was broken twice.
Supreme Court Judges
Supreme Court Judges are appointed by the President of India on the advice of the council of ministers in ‘consultation’ with the CJI. There were differences of opinion about this ‘consultation. This matter came up before the Supreme Court several times between 1982 and 1998. Initially, the court felt that role of the Chief Justice was purely consultative. Then it took the view that the President must follow the opinion of the Chief Justice. Finally, the Supreme Court has come up with the procedure that the Chief Justice should recommend names of persons to be appointed in consultation with four senior-most judges of the Court.
High Court Judges
Chief Justice of the High Court is appointed by the President in the Chief Justice of India and the Governor of the concerned state.
The judges of State High Courts are appointed by the President of India in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, the Governor of the concerned state and the Chief Justice of concerned High Court.
Lower Court Judges
The judges of subordinate courts are appointed by the Governor in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court of the concerned State. A minimum of seven years of practise as a lawyer at bar is a necessary qualification. Upon a written examination and oral interview by a committee of High court judges, the appointment of district judges is notified by the state Government. This is referred to as direct recruitment. District judges are also appointed by way of elevation of judges from courts subordinate to district courts provided they fulfil the minimum years of service.
Age of retirement for a High court judge is 62, for a Supreme court judge is 65. A judge in either court can be removed only by impeachment on grounds of proven misconduct or incapacity by the President if a resolution is passed in Parliament by two-thirds majority members present and voting and an absolute majority of the House. This makes it difficult to remove a judge and ensures independence of the judiciary.
A district court judge or additional judge may be removed from office by the State Government in consultation with the High Court
Judicial activism is use of judicial power to articulate and enforce what is beneficial for the society in general.
The main instrument of judicial activism is the PIL – Public Interest Litigation. PIL is when Court decides to hear a case where the case was filed not by the aggrieved persons but by others on their behalf. Through the PIL, the court has expanded the idea of rights. Clean air, unpolluted water etc. are rights for the entire society. Therefore, it was felt by the courts that individuals as parts of the society must have the right to seek justice wherever such rights were violated.
Through PIL and judicial activism, the judiciary has shown readiness to take into consideration rights of those sections who cannot easily approach the courts. For this purpose, the judiciary allowed public spirited citizens, social organisations and lawyers to file petitions on behalf of the needy and the deprived.
Judicial activism has democratised the judicial system by granting access to normal individuals and groups. The negative aspects of judicial activism are that they overburden the courts and that they have blurred the lines of distinction between the organs of the state and trespass into the domains of the Legislature and the Executive.
Lok Adalat which means ‘The People’s Court’ is a system of alternate dispute resolution developed in India to remove the delays of a regular court and to make the system affordable. These courts simplify procedures and make themselves easily available and accessible to the public. They are held periodically and are usually presided over by retired judges, social activists, or other members of the legal profession.
When to contending parties put forth their arguments, based on facts and verification of witness, judgement is delivered. The unique feature of the Lok Adalat is the absence of a lawyer. The disputing parties plead their case themselves in Lok Adalats.
The focus in Lok Adalats is on compromise. When no compromise is reached, the matter goes back to the court. However, if a compromise is reached, an award is made and is binding on the parties.