The Supreme Court has issued notice on a petition challenging non-inclusion of certain Judicial Officers from the State of Uttar Pradesh, in the SC Collegium's recommendation dated August 14, 2020 for appointment as Judges of the Allahabad High Court.
The plea filed by seven JOs from the state, through Advocate Aruna Gupta, seek a direction upon the Collegium to reconsider their cases for elevation.
They have submitted that whereas the HC Collegium had recommended their names for elevation, the SC Collegium has proposed to elevate only District and Sessions Judge Subhash Chand.
Disputing the same they submitted that their cases were not considered "probably on the ground that they have not completed a period of 10 years of holding of judicial office".
They have submitted that their appointments were made retrospectively with effect from January 2007 and the same has been upheld by both the Allahabad High Court as well as the Supreme Court.
In this context they have contended that they are of the same batch as Mr. Subhash Chand and they had joined in Higher Judicial Services at the same time.
They have further pointed out that Mr. Subhash Chand joined Judicial Service in December, 2011 or in January, 2012 as an Advocate after resigning from the UP Nyayik Sewa. Thus, it is contended there was break in his judicial service and his services at the UP Nyayik Sewa cannot be included for the purpose of computing the period of 10 years of holding of a judicial office, as provided under Article 217 (2) (a) of Constitution of India.
Significantly, two of the aggrieved JOs retired last year. They have however contended,
"there is no nexus to the object sought to be achieved by introducing the age restriction in regard to recommendation for appointment as High Court Judge from the judicial service cadre and it is also not mandatory, as several times so many judicial officers have been appointed as Jugde of various High Courts even after their retirement."
Citing the example of the Bombay High Court whereby 3 judicial officers who had crossed the prescribed age limit of 58 ½ years had been appointed as Judges to meet the huge pendency of cases, the Petitioners submitted thus:
"There is also huge pendency of civil, as well as criminal cases in Hon'ble High Court of Allahabad…on 01/04/2019 and on 01/08/2020, there were 51 and 61 vacancies of Judges in Hon'ble High Court of Allahabad."