The Kerala High Court has directed to forward an additional list of candidates from the merit list dated 20.02.2020 to the Governor for approval and appointment as Munsiff-Magistrates.
Justice PV Asha issued these directions while considering writ petitions filed by candidates to the posts of Munsiff-Magistrate. They had sought directions to the High Court to fill up all the vacancies of Munsiff-Magistrate existing as on 7.5.2020/during the currency of the rank list.
They submitted that the number of vacancies notified was 37 (probable) including 1 vacancy reserved for persons with disabilities, for appointment by direct recruitment and recruitment by transfer. After the main examination including written test and interview, a merit list for direct recruitment containing the names of 69 candidates were published. The Government of Kerala thereafter as per gazette notification dated 07.05.2020 appointed 32 candidates as Munsiff/Magistrate trainees by direct recruitment for the year 2019.
The petitioners contended that several vacancies arose in the post of Munsiff/Magistrate on account of promotions, to the post of Sub Judges, consequential vacancies on account of promotions made against vacancies of District Judges, as on 07.05.2020 and thereafter. They also pointed out that, as per Rule 7 (2) of the Kerala Judicial Service Rules, 1961 as amended w.e.f 19.01.2019, the merit list prepared by the High Court, on approval by the Governor, shall be valid till the notified vacancies and the vacancies arising within one year from the date of approval of the list, are filled up.
On the other hand, the contention put forth by the High Court was that the filling up of vacancies which arose beyond 31.12.2019 would be contrary to the directions of the Apex Court in its order dated 04.01.2007, as modified on 24.03.2009 in Malik Mazhar Sultan case. They conceded that the Special Rules provide that the merit list would remain in force till the notified vacancies and the vacancies that may arise within one year from the date of approval of the list are filled up or till the fresh list comes into force. Taking note of these contentions, the Court observed:
"Though the High Court has to follow the guidelines and time schedule fixed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in its order dated 04.01.2007 as modified on 24.03.2009 in Malik Mazhar Sultan (3)'s case (supra) and reports are to be furnished every year, it cannot be said that the Special Rules can be ignored. It is seen that the time schedule is fixed in order to see that there is no delay in filling up the vacancies. The Apex Court also directed that selection has to be conducted in accordance with the Special Rules."
The Court also rejected the contention raised by the High Court that no vacancy in excess of 37 can be filled up, cannot also be accepted, as the number of vacancies notified in notification is 37(probable). In case the number of vacancies was without specifying "probable", the contention of the High Court could have been accepted, Justice Asha said.
The Court further observed that, when there is a Special Rule governing the selection and appointment, the petitioners have every right to be considered for selection in accordance with the Special Rules and once they are included in the merit list, they are entitled to be considered for appointment in accordance with the Special Rules. Allowing the writ petition, the Court said:
"Public interest also demands filling up of vacancies through a regular process, at the earliest point of time rather than keeping those unfilled or resorting to temporary appointments till the next batch of candidates become available after training"
Case name: SWETHA SASIKUMAR vs. STATE OF KERALACase no.: WP(C).No.10007 OF 2020Coram: Justice PV Asha
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