Report No. 121
5.24. Turning now towards the other model, the Supreme Court of U.S.S.R. is the apex court in that country, and all other courts throughout the country are subordinate to it. All these courts administer State and Federal law equally. The appointment of Judges is by the elective principle at every level of the judiciary. Each court consists of a trained judge and two lay judges. This rests on the assumption that rendering justice is not the exclusive privilege of technocrats but it is society's obligation to provide machinery for rendering justice which can be discharged by people's participation in the administration of justice.
Further assumption is that every citizen of the State must participate in the administration of justice. Every case on criminal or civil side is tried by a collegium consisting of a single trained judge and two people's assessors. The people's assessors, unlike the judges, are not recruited from legally trained practising advocates or law teachers or from those having legal qualification but are drawn from all segments of the society, such as, peasants, labourers, factory and office workers.
They enjoy the power of a judge, not the advisory role of an assessor. The status of all the three is equal. In their adjudicatory role, they are wholly independent of any outside interference. Their independent status is secured by the direct popular election which provides a link in the chain of credibility of the consumers of justice in the administration of justice.1
1. Ibid., p. 548-551.
5.25. To refer to hierarchy of courts, one may first refer to people's courts. These are courts of lowest grade, established in each city and district and the lay judges who are to work in this court are elected from various segments of society other than lawyers. A trained judge is elected from among the lawyers of ten years standing by the citizens of each district on the basis of universal, direct and equal suffrage by secret ballot for a term of five years on the nomination made by unions and cultural organisations.
People's assessors are elected by show of hands at the general meetings of industrial, office and professional workers and peasants at the places of work or residence and of serviceman in the military units for a term of two years. The judge is not required to be a professional although he or she usually is and assessors being lay persons have no formal legal or judicial background.
5.26. The Judges of the courts of Territories, Regions, Cities, Autonomous Regions and natural areas are elected by the Soviets of Working People's Deputies of the respective Territories, Regions, Autonomous Regions or areas for a term of five years. The Judges of these courts are professionally trained and politically prominent.
5.27. The Judges of Supreme Court in the Autonomous Republic are elected by the Supreme Soviets of the Autonomous Republics for a term of five years. The Judges of the Supreme Court of Union Republics are also elected by the Supreme Soviet of the respective Union Republic for a term of five years.
5.28. The Judges of the USSR Supreme Court are elected by the Supreme Soviet of USSR for a term of five years. The only criticism of this system heard is that Judges of the USSR Supreme Court are, in reality, chosen by the leaders of the Communist Party and the Court is carefully integrated into the structure of the Central Government.
5.29. The structure of the USSR Supreme Court is worth taking note of. It consists of a Chairman, two vice-Chairmen, nine professional Judges and twenty people's assessors. Chairman of the Supreme Court of each Union Republic is ex-officio member of the Supreme Court of USSR. The Supreme Court of USSR does not enjoy the power of judicial review of executive and legislative action as is understood in our Constitution nor does it possess the authority to interpret laws, especially the Constitution, yet it has an advisory role in relation to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR to whom it may give advice on questions of interpretation of laws and the Constitution.1
1. H.R. Dubey The Judicial System of India and Some Foreign countries, pp. 522-557.
5.30. The Law Commission, on an earlier occasion,1 had also examined the method of appointment of Judges adopted by West Germany, Japan and Malvi. There is no 'notable change in recent years in that method and, therefore, to repeat be idle parade of familiar knowledge.
1. LCI, 80th Report, Chapter III.
5.31. Knowledge is power. This journey through world models considerably helped the Law Commission in undertaking a search for a new model. Comparable models will be kept in view. To which would be added the experience derived by the working of the scheme for all these years. Goals will be kept in view. All these will combine in 'conducting the search for a new model.