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Direct Recruitment Of District Judges Requires Immediate Consideration: SC

The Supreme Court on Wednesday once again noted that the interpretation of Article 233 of the Constitution in the matter of appointment of District Judges by way of direct recruitment requires “immediate consideration”.

The vacation bench of Justices U. U. Lalit and Deepak Gupta was hearing writ petitions filed by judicial officers of lower judiciary seeking to participate in the UP Higher Judicial Services Examination of 2018.

In similar matters in the past, mainly two contentions have been raised- (i) in case a candidate has completed seven years of practice as an advocate, he/she shall be an eligible candidate despite the fact that on the date of the application/appointment, he/she is in the service of Union or State; (ii) the members who are in judicial service as Civil Judge, Junior Division or Senior Division, in case they have completed seven years as Judicial Officers or seven years as Judicial Officer-cum-Advocate, they should be treated as eligible candidates.

In view of the deadline for the submission of applications for the UP Higher Judicial Services Examination being June 14, the bench on Monday extended identical benefits as under the following order passed by another division bench on February 15 in respect of the Delhi Higher Judicial Services- “We direct the High Court of Delhi to register the applications of the petitioners and intervenors, if they are otherwise in order, ignoring the objections regarding seven years practice and in case they are otherwise eligible as per the three aspects referred to above. We make it clear that this is only a provisional arrangement. Mere participation does not confer them with any right to claim any equity. The eligibility for appointment will be decided at the time of final hearing of the matter”

Even in that set of petitions, the issue for consideration was whether i) those who are judicial officers in service, but who have completed seven years before rendering service or; ii) who have a combined service of practice as lawyer and judicial service of seven years or; iii) even in judicial service of seven years, are eligible to participate in the selection to the Delhi Higher Judicial Service.

Earlier, on January 23, the same bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and Mohan M. Shantanagoudar had sought the direction of the Chief Justice for reference to a larger bench the interpretation of Article 233 and the question whether the eligibility for appointment as district judge is to be seen only at the time of appointment or at the time of application or both.

The bench had favoured a reference on account of the diverse views expressed by the apex court in inter alia Satya Narain Singh v. High Court of Judicature at Allahabad (1984), Deepak Aggarwal v. Keshav Kaushik (2013) and Vijay Kumar Mishra v. Patna High Court (2016).

The vacation bench on Wednesday reiterated that papers be placed before the Chief Justice for appropriate orders, observing, “This is a problem in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and other places…you cannot continue ti operate on interim orders”

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