Breaking: Retired District Judges Can Be Appointed To HCs, Additional HC Judges Can Be Appointed For A Tenure Of Less Than 2 Yrs :SC [Read Judgment]
The Supreme Court bench of Justices A. K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, on Friday, pronounced judgment on the writ petition filed by advocate Sunil Samdaria challenging the appointment of Justice Virendra Kumar Mathur and Justice Ram Chandra Singh Jhala as Additional Judges of Rajasthan High Court. The bench upheld the notifications of appointment of the aforesaid judges.
The bench also held that retired judicial officers can be appointed as High Court judges under Article 217(2)(a). Further, the bench clarified that Additional Judges of High Courts may also be appointed for a tenure of less than 2 years in context of Article 224.
The Petition contended that the appointment is contrary to the law laid down by the Apex Court in the case of Kumar Padma Prasad v. Union of India. The Court had, therein, held that in order to qualify for appointment as a Judge of High Court under Article 217 (2) (a) of the Constitution of India, the candidate must hold judicial office in judicial service of the State.
It points that the two Judges had retired from judicial service of the State in 2016 and contends that they had, therefore, ceased to hold judicial office. Mr Samdaria, thereby, asserts, “Thus, Respondent No.2 and Respondent No.3 neither held ‘judicial office’ nor they were part of judicial service of the state on the date of issuance of warrant by President of India, thus they were neither qualified nor eligible to be appointed as Judge of High Court on the date of issuance of warrant of appointment by President of India making their appointment as an Additional Judge of Rajasthan High Court as non-est and void ab initio”.
The Petition further relies on the judgment in the case if S.P. Gupta v. Union of India, wherein it was held that in a High Court where pendency of cases is more than 2 years, the Additional Judges cannot be appointed for a period less than 2 years.
It then highlights the fact that the pendency of cases before Rajasthan High Court is more than 10 years and that despite this Justice Mathur and Justice Jhala has been appointed as Additional Judges for a short period of 1 year 3 months and 17 days and 1 year 1 month 17 days respectively.
The Petition, therefore, submits, “It is trite to say that the constitutional appointment must conform to constitutional provisions and constitutional standards. Appointment of Respondent No. 2 and Respondent No.3, as Additional Judges of the Rajasthan High Court do not meet the constitutional standards and prescription of Article 224(1) and of Article 217(2) (a) of the Constitution of India, therefore their appointment are constitutionally impermissible and thus deserves to be quashed and set aside”.
The bench had reserved the judgment on February 12.
Read the Judgment Here