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Bombay High Court Allows Age-Barred Law Graduate To Participate In Judges Selection As Recruitments Got Stalled Due To COVID

Sharmeen Hakim
16 Jan 2022 7:53 AM GMT
Bombay High Court Allows Age-Barred Law Graduate To Participate In Judges Selection As Recruitments Got Stalled Due To COVID
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In an interim relief to a law graduate from Mumbai, the Bombay High Court has allowed him to participate in the ongoing recruitment process for post of Civil Judge (Junior Division)/Judicial Magistrate (First Class), despite being "age-barred." The petitioner contended that he was age-barred as the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) did not issue any...

In an interim relief to a law graduate from Mumbai, the Bombay High Court has allowed him to participate in the ongoing recruitment process for post of Civil Judge (Junior Division)/Judicial Magistrate (First Class), despite being "age-barred."

The petitioner contended that he was age-barred as the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) did not issue any advertisement for applications last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an order passed last week, a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Prithviraj Chavan observed that the petitioner had made a strong prima facie case to admit the writ petition as well as for interim relief. "If the petitioner is otherwise eligible, the Commission shall process his application and allow him to participate in the qualifying examination provisionally."

The court was hearing a petition filed by one Rishab Murali, who wanted a chance to get into judicial services under the category of "fresh law graduate", though he had completed his law course in 2020 and not last year.

The petition contends that the advertisement issued by the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) for recruitment for the said post on December 23, 2021, rendered him as "age-barred from offering his candidature." This, the petition contends, is not due to any fault on the part of the petitioner, but the fact that there was no such advertisement issued in December 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Additional Government Pleader, appearing for the State of Maharashtra as well as the MPSC, submitted that a copy of the petition was not served on the Commission, and therefore sought time to file a reply. It was also argued that since the petitioner was "admittedly age-barred," there was no question of granting him any interim protection.

The petitioner's lawyers submitted that the General Administration Department of the Government of Maharashtra, taking note of the situation arising out of the pandemic, had granted relaxation as regards age for recruitment in other services, however, similar benefit was not extended for entry into judicial services. He termed this as "discriminatory."

"Since the last date for applying is January 15, 2022, the petitioner would be losing the opportunity to compete as a fresh law graduate unless he is allowed to make an application and the same is directed to be considered by the Commission," it was submitted. It was also argued that if not allowed to participate in the current recruitment process, the petitioner will be required to put in three years' practice as a lawyer and only then will he be eligible to make an application for being considered for appointment for the said post.

The bench noted that sight cannot be lost of the fact that recruitment processes were severely affected due to the pandemic and that the petitioner's contention that the Commission issued no advertisement in the year 2020 was presently not disputed.

The bench then directed the Commission to allow the petitioner to appear for the exam if he was otherwise eligible. "We are also of the view that refusal to grant interim relief would work out more prejudice to the petitioner than the prejudice that would be caused to the respondents if interim relief were granted," the bench observed.

"Such participation shall, however, be without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the respondents in the writ petition and no equity shall be claimed by the petitioner at the time the writ petition is considered for final disposal."

The court also directed the petitioner to serve a copy of the petition to the MPSC immediately, granted time to the Commission to file a reply by January 26 and further one week's time to the petitioner to file a rejoinder, if any and adjourned the case for "final disposal" on February 4, 2022.

Case Title: Rishab Murali vs State of Maharashtra & oths

Case No: WPL 156/2022

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Bom) 7

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