Lower Age Limit Of 35 Years For District Judge Selection Challenged In Madras HC [Read Petition]

Lower Age Limit Of 35 Years For District Judge Selection Challenged In Madras HC [Read Petition]

A petition has been filed by an advocate in the Madras High Court challenging the rule fixing 35 years as the lower age limit for applying for selection of District Judges.

The petition filed by S Nandhivarman, a graduate of National Law School of India University Bangalore, challenges the constitutionality of clauses of the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Service (Cadre and Recruitment) Rules 2017.

The amendment made to the Rules in November 2017 barred candidates aged below 35 years from applying to the posts of District Judge.

Nandhivarman, who "opted to practise law over a corporate job with an ambition to become a judge in future", contends that this amendment is contrary to Articles 233(2)of the Constitution of India. He points out the eligibility prescribed by Constitution for appointment as District Judge is seven years of practice as an advocate, as per Article 233(2). He had completed 7 years of practise by 2017, having enrolled in 2010.

In January 2019,a notification was issued for the posts of District Judge. Despite satisfying the constitutional requirement of seven years of practise, he is ineligible to apply as his present age is 34. In this backdrop, the petition has been filed, challenging the constitutionality of the Rule and also seeking direction to permit the petitioner to apply.

The amendment indirectly raises the minimum years of experience of 7 years as prescribed in the Constitution. "The 2nd Respondent(State of Tamil Nadu) cannot by pass or try to over ride what has been stipulated under Article 233(2) of the Constitution of India and hence it is hit by the doctrine of colourable legislation", states the petition.

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He also illustrates in the petition how the Rule operates against those who started practise immediately after graduation, as they cannot apply for selection for not satisfying the lower age limit.

"an advocate who has active practise less than the petitioner is made eligible to apply and the same is arbitrary", contends the petition, challenging the rule as violating Articles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.