The Supreme Court has issued notice in writ petitions filed by judicial officers who want to participate in the selection of the Delhi Higher Judicial Service.
A bench of Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar has directed the High Court of Delhi to register the applications of the petitioners and intervenors, if they are otherwise in order, ignoring the objections regarding seven years’ practice and in case they are otherwise eligible as per the three aspects.
The issue raised in the petitions was whether i) judicial officers in service, but who have completed seven years before rendering service or; ii) who have a combined service of practice as lawyer and judicial service of seven years or; iii) even in judicial service of seven years, are eligible to participate in the selection to the Delhi Higher Judicial Service.
The bench, however, clarified: “We make it clear that this is only a provisional arrangement. Mere participation does not confer them with any right to claim any equity. The eligibility for appointment will be decided at the time of final hearing of the matter.”
The bench also noted that it has made a reference on a similar issue to a larger bench. The bench, in Dheeraj Mor v Hon'ble High Court of Delhi, had referred the question whether the eligibility for appointment as district judge is to be seen only at the time of appointment or at the time of application or both.
It was dealing with this issue: “(i) in case a candidate has completed seven years of practice as an advocate, he/she shall be an eligible candidate despite the fact that on the date of the application/appointment, he/she is in the service of Union or State; (ii) the members who are in judicial service as Civil Judge, Junior Division or Senior Division, in case they have completed seven years as Judicial Officers or seven years as Judicial Officer-cum-Advocate, they should be treated as eligible candidates.”
In the said case, the court also took note of the fact that there are rules framed by certain states which provide that “in computing the period of seven years, there shall be included a period during which he (a candidate) has held judicial office”.
Read the Order Here