By setting aside a judgment of the learned Single Judge, a Division Bench of Kerala High Court has held that it was within the powers of the High Court to notify the cadre strength of District Judges. The Division Bench further held that there was no illegality in including temporary posts in the cadre strength.
The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Navniti Prasad Singh and Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan was considering the appeals filed by the High Court of Kerala and the State Government against the judgment of the Single Bench. A group of persons working in the subordinate judiciary had filed the writ petition challenging the decision of the administrative committee of the High Court of Kerala to increase the cadre strength of District Judges from 130 to 169. The learned Single Judge allowed the writ petition, setting aside the decision to increase cadre strength on the ground that such power was available only to the State Government and not to the High Court. It was further held that the administrative committee erred in including temporary posts while determining cadre strength.
While considering the appeals filed against the judgment of the learned Single Judge, the Division Bench expressed surprise as to why the petitioners attempted to challenge the notification increasing cadre strength. The Division Bench observed that increase in cadre strength was only beneficial to the writ petitioners who were working in subordinate judiciary, as it would increase their promotion chances. Hence, it was observed that there was no valid cause of action for the writ petition, and on that count alone it ought to have been dismissed.
Nevertheless, since the learned Single Judge dealt with the matter on merits, the Division Bench chose to consider the appeal on merits. The decision to increase cadre strength was the result of an earlier judgment, V.S Sunil Kumar vs. State of Kerala,wherein the Court directed the Government to consider including 16 more posts in the then cadre strength of 130 District Judges. The Single Bench held that when the direction was to consider inclusion of 16 additional posts, there could not have been inclusion of 39 additional posts, over and above the direction of the Court. The Division Bench did not agree with the conclusion and held that the power of the State Government is a plenary power and the State Government can exercise it as and when the situation so demands, so long as it is exercised within the constitutional framework. No Courts can restrain the State Government in exercising its power as per its jurisdiction.
The second ground on which writ petitions was allowed was that temporary posts could not have been included in cadre strength. The Division Bench did not accept this ground holding that it was the prerogative of the State to include temporary posts in the cadre. Further ground of contention raised was that the High Court had no power to increase the cadre strength. The Division Bench rejected the said ground of contention, stating that the State Government gave a new definition to ‘cadre strength’, and the High Court was merely notifying the number of posts which answered the definition given by the State Government. According to Division Bench, it was a mere ministerial function, and not an usurpation of powers of State Government.
Read Judgment Here