No Automatic Absorption Of Executive Officers Turned Adhoc Judges Into Judiciary: SC [Read Judgment]

No Automatic Absorption Of Executive Officers Turned Adhoc Judges Into Judiciary:  SC [Read Judgment]

In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court has held that executive officers cannot be automatically absorbed to judicial service taking into account their service as adhoc-judges.

The apex court bench of Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan has set aside a Gauhati High Court judgment that held that the executive officers (Additional Deputy Commissioners) can be absorbed into district judiciary, considering their services as adhoc judges.

In this case, the Additional Deputy Commissioners were appointed with the powers of Additional Sessions Judge, as ad-hoc judges in fast-track courts, on contract basis. After some years, they claimed for regularisation to the said posts and to be allowed to work as Additional Sessions Judges, invoking the provisions of Rule 7 of the Arunachal Pradesh Judicial Service Rules, 2006. The high court administration rejected their request for regularization and terminated their services, aggrieved with which, they approached the high court by filing a writ petition.

The division bench of high court quashed the order of termination and directed the state to start consultation process for their absorption in Grade-I of the Arunachal Pradesh Judicial Service and the Gauhati High Court to consider them for absorption. The high court administration approached the apex court in appeal.

The Supreme Court observed that relevant provisions are only meant to ‘consider’ the cases of the ad-hoc judges for absorption and it never gave any mandate that they had to be necessarily absorbed. “Thus, only right of consideration was there. There was no automatic absorption. Had that been the intention, the proviso would have been worded differently,” the bench said.

The court also disagreed with the high court reasoning that since they had worked for 10 years approximately, as ad hoc judges, and since there was nothing on record to show that they were incompetent or corrupt in the discharge of their judicial work, they should have been absorbed in the regular cadre.

The court also said the writ petitioners even failed to qualify the test which was conducted pursuant to Brij Mohan Lal in which the writ petitioners had appeared. The bench said: “We may observe at the outset that if the matter of regularisation of the writ petitioners was to be considered in terms of Brij Mohan Lal (2), the writ petitioners have remained unsuccessful. This is because of the reason that in terms of Brij Mohan Lal (2), written examination was undertaken by the High Court in which all the three writ petitioners appeared, but they failed to achieve the qualifying marks. Therefore, if that standard is to be applied, the writ petitioners have not been able to qualify the examination and cannot claim absorption in the regular service.”

The court also observed: “On the other hand, insofar as the Government is concerned, it had recommended the case of the writ petitioners for absorption. It is this factor which has weighed with the Division Bench of the High Court. However, we are of the opinion that this approach is unsustainable in law, having regard to the mandate of Articles 233 to 235 of the Constitution of India. These provisions are aimed at securing the independence of the Judiciary from the Executive. These Articles provide a complete code for regulating recruitment and appointment to the District Judiciary and the Subordinate Judiciary.”

Read the Judgment Here