NATIONAL JUDICIAL EDUCATION STRATEGY
The National Judicial Education Strategy (NJES) defines the philosophy, vision and mission of national judicial education.
A. Philosophy: Vision of Justice of the Constitution of India
In its preamble, the Constitution of India sets "justice, social, economic and political" as the first aim of the Republic.
Article 39A of the Constitution provides that "the State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice".
The definition of justice in this regard is to be derived from the Constitution itself. The Indian Constitution is a "Comprehensive Code of Justice".
The judiciary of India has played a historic role in helping to realize the vision of justice set out in the Constitution, the laws enacted under it, and judicial precedent.
The people of India have developed deep and abiding faith in the judiciary of the country as the guardians of Constitutional Rule and the Rule of Law in India. For this role, the Indian judiciary is followed as a role model throughout the world.
Judicial practice and precedent - reinforced by law - have developed "reasoning" and "rationality" as the core methodology of judicial decision making in India. The Constitutional vision of justice as well as applicable provisions of law are thus developed and applied to the fact situation before them by judges using "reasoning" and "rationality".
Thus, the core challenge of judging is to use the methodology of reasoning and rationality to safeguard and advance the vision of justice of the Constitution of India.
The vision of NJES is "Judicial education enhances the delivery of Timely Justice."
C. NJA's Mission
NJA's mission is to enhance timely justice, focusing on (i) delay and arrears reduction (DAR); and (ii) enhancing the quality and responsiveness of justice (QRJ).
NJA views continuing education as a process of "creating solutions", and judicial education as a process of "creating solutions for strengthening the administration of justice."
Hence there is no "teaching", "preaching" or "training" at NJA; no "teachers" or "students"; no "trainees" or "trainors".
Rather, judicial education at NJA brings together judges from across the country to provide them a forum to jointly identify the major obstacles facing the administration of justice and develop appropriate solutions for overcoming these obstacles. Judges will then be able to implement these solutions as appropriate, resulting in the strengthening of the administration of justice.
Solutions may involve, for example, generation and use of new/additional knowledge of law; increased application of technology and modern management methods; deployment of appropriate approaches, methods and attitudes to judging; appropriate changes to management of relationships with other stakeholders in the justice system such as lawyers; government officials; ministerial staff and litigants; development and use of new techniques and tools; and change.
To assist in this process, NJA will identify priority challenges facing the administration of justice and organize appropriate programmes to facilitate problem solving. NJA will assemble knowledge inputs (documentary; as well as experts) and new ideas that will assist judges in problem solving. NJA programmes will also provide for judges to exchange knowledge and expertise and thus transform knowledge and generate new knowledge.
This approach to judicial education as "knowledge sharing for problem solving" brings participant judges to the centre of judicial education and demands their active participation in the process of judicial education. "Teaching", "training" and one-way transmission of information through lecturing will not be appropriate for this approach.
NJA programs will therefore seek to use interactive approaches in which participants will actively share their knowledge, experience and ideas and engage in proactive thinking. Case study, group exercises, simulations, role play, field visits ane experiential learning are all key to the pedagogical methods to be used in NJA.
Development of Law/Development of Judicial Systems
In the common law system judges play a historic role in the development of law and legal and judicial systems/institutions. The doctrine of precedent and Constitutional provisions (such as Article 142 of the Constitution) provide the legal and Constitutional basis for the Supreme Court and High Courts to develop the law as needed to respond to the interests of justice.
Under NJES, NJA arranges conferences of High Court justices in which the Justices may assess the current status of law in various areas and reflect together on the need for future development of law to respond to the needs of the country and in the interests of justice.
E. Curriculum Development
As guided by Hon. Chief Justice of India Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, starting in February 2007, the curriculum of NJA is being developed in a responsive, demand-driven manner that meets the needs of High Courts.
The first step in the curriculum development process is the preparation of a Judicial Education Needs Assessment based on a survey of all judges to ascertain their judicial education needs. This was done for the first time in February/March, 2007. The needs expressed by judges were then reviewed by High Courts and judicial education needs were identified. High Courts also then determined determine areas of judicial education that would be delivered by their State Judicial Academy and areas to be delivered by the National Judicial Academy. High Court Justices in charge of judicial education then met at NJA to discuss the proposed NJA Calendar for 2007-2008 and also their own proposed calendars. The aim was to develop a Coordinated National Judicial Education Calendar for the country. This 2007-2008 NJA calendar is the product of this elaborate process of consultation.
F. Allocation of Responsibilities Between SJAs and NJA
To avoid duplication, a broad consensus has been developed regarding the relative responsibilities of SJAs and NJA along the following lines.
It is not necessary for judges to be sent to Bhopal to acquire information available at the State level. Therefore, while SJA induction and refresher programmes will necessarily involve transmission of information on latest judicial decisions and legislative enactments, NJA programmes will focus on problem solving and the development of law/systems of justice.
G. Model National Judicial Education Curriculum
Over the current academic year, NJA also took a lead towards establishing a set of common minimum standards for judicial education. At a meeting of High Court Justices in Charge of Education at NJA, a Model National Curriculum for Judicial Education was discussed and agreed. The Model Curriculum covers induction and continuing judicial education for all levels of the judiciary and serves as a suggested guideline only.
H. NJA's "Product Line"
To achieve the above objectives, NJA has a "product line" consisting of six types of programmes as follows:
A brief overview of these programmes is provided below.
(1) National/Regional Judicial Workshops for Enhancing Timely Justice (Focus: Judging)
To make a discernible impact on (i) delay and arrears reduction; and (ii) enhancing quality and responsiveness of justice, NJA prepares and delivers three day workshops (national as well as regional) that analyze problems and develop practicable solutions pertaining to DAR and QRJ.
The purpose of these workshops is to bring judges together to discuss challenges facing judicial administration, share best practice and identify practicable solutions/tools/techniques for meeting these challenges within existing constraints, as well as for identifying need for systemic and structural change to strengthen the administration of justice.
The objective is that 2,500 judges in the country participate in these modules per year so that 10,000 judges may be covered over a four-year period (2007-2008 to 2010-2011) with the assistance of SJAs.
Intended benefits/outcomes of the judicial workshops
i) The Judicial Workshops will facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experience/best practice across the country on tackling the priority challenges faced by justice administration.
ii) The Workshops will facilitate analysis of these challenges by judges based on "lateral" inputs from technical and legal experts who may bring new knowledge and perspectives to the problems. This will help the judges in developing/implementing new and appropriate solutions. These new ideas will then be published and disseminated across the country.
iii) The Workshops will raise consciousness/awareness amongst judges about priority problems and send a clear message from the national to the local level about the need, in the national interest, to effectively address priority challenges;
In addition, judicial workshops will also be held on core judicial skills as well as on court management and judicial administration.
iv) Participation in the Workshops will enhance the knowledge and skills of participants and enable them to interact intensively with a national judicial fraternity.
v) Judges will be encouraged to develop individual plans wherever possible to tackle the problems.
A precise short term impact of these programmes may be difficult to monitor. A framework may be developed, however, for measuring the impact of the programme over the medium term in relation to the problems identified in the modules.
(2) National Judicial Seminars on Strengthening the Administration of Justice (Focal area: substantive law)
NJA delivers \advanced seminars on priority areas in the administration of law and justice for some 1000 judges each year.
These specialized programmes will be mainly on topics identified by High Courts through the judicial education needs assessment. Topics proposed for advanced seminars, by cluster, are in the table below.
(3) Programmes for Educating Educators ("Train the Trainer")
NJA also delivers programmes for educators ("train the trainer" programmes) each year as requested by High Courts. These are delivered to faculty members or resource persons of State Judicial Academies who are expected to deliver the same programme at the State level to multiple audiences.
(4) Orientation Modules for Recently Appointed ADJs
As desired by High Courts, NJA will provide a 5-day orientation for selected newly selected ADJs who are undergoing induction training at the State level. This orientation colloquium will focus on the history and traditions of the Indian judiciary, the main contributions of Indian judiciar6y to the development of jurisprudence, national issues of importance to the administration of justice, judicial ethics and conduct, core judicial skills, delay and arrears reduction and enhancing the quality and responsiveness of justice.
(5) High Court Justices' Conferences on Development of Law and Development of Justice Systems
NJA organizes Conferences of High Court Justices on key topics to provide Justices the opportunity to discuss how law and justice delivery systems are developing in response to policy challenges facing the nation.
(6) Orientation Colloquia for Recently Elevated High Court Justices
NJA has organized two Colloquia ffor Recently Elevated High Court Justices. These Colloquia provide these justices an opportunity to meet each other across the country and also to interact with some of the most distinguished and senior judges in the country. More such Colloquia will be organized on an as-needed basis.
I. Core Clusters
The subjects covered in judicial education have been organized into ten "core clusters". Faculty and outside experts ("Visiting Professsors") are designated for each cluster so that they will provide necessary quality assurance regarding course content and delivery. The ten clusters are:
J. Skills Data Base
With the approval of the High Courts, NJA is establishing a national skills database of judges that will provide information on the skills and knowledge of judges across the country. The database will be available on NJA's website only to judges through password protected access. The database will include data obtained through the National Judicial Education Needs Assessment. Such a database will enable more efficient use of judicial education and more effective use of the skills of judges.
NATIONAL SYSTEM OF JUDICIAL EDUCATION
Pursuant to the various steps summarized above, the National Judicial Education Strategy has resulted in the establishment of a national system of judicial education. It is hoped that this system will be strengthened in the years to come. The national judicial education system includes (i) common aims, objects and methodologies as set out in the National Judicial Education Strategy; (ii) a System for Needs Assessment and Coordinated Calendar Development; (iii) System for Coordination and Cooperation amongst SJAs inter-se and NJA in Curriculum Development, Knowledge generation/knowledge Sharing and Knowledge Management; Sharing of Materials and Resource persons; and Library and Web Resources; (iv) Coordination of Delivery of Judicial Education and Impact/Quality evaluation; (v) Institutional Framework for Coordination Amongst State and National Judicial Academies; and (vi) A Framework for Discussing and Addressing Common Institutional and Financial Issues.
A national system of judicial education should not - and does not - in any way impinge on the autonomy, freedom and flexibility of High Courts and State Judicial Academies in terns of their judicial education programmes. It is only a framework for cooperation, discussion and knowledge sharing so as to maximize effective use of resources and avoid needless duplication.