The Supreme Court has come to the rescue of lower judicial officers, who were barred from appearing in an examination for appointment of additional district judges (ADJs), and asked the Delhi High Court to register their applications. Some lower judicial officers including judicial, executive and metropolitan magistrates have assailed Rule 9 (2) of the Delhi Higher Judicial Service Rules which bars them from appearing in the examination to be held on April 15 for appointment of entry level ADJs. “We direct 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 referred to above,” a bench of justices Kurian Joseph and M M Shantanagoudar said.
The bench, however, made clear that this was 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 said. It issued notice to the Delhi High Court Registry on pleas including the one filed by Nitin Raj, Special Railway Magistrate at Ambala, through lawyer T V George and Dushyant Kumar. The pleas alleged that judicial officers, who are in service for last seven years, have not been allowed to take up the higher judicial service examination.
They also said that the judges, who have a combined service of practice as lawyer and judicial service of seven years, are also not allowed to appear in the higher judicial service examination to be conducted by the Delhi High Court. The plea raised the issue “whether a subordinate judicial officer, the cumulative years of whose antecedent practice as well as period of service in the subordinate judicial service add up to ‘not less than seven years’ is not eligible for appointment by direct recruitment to the post of district judge (entry level) in the Delhi Higher Judicial Service”. Besides seeking nod to appear in the Higher Judicial Service Examination, one of the pleas also sought declaration of the Delhi Higher Judicial Service Rule as “unconstitutional to the extent it excludes the persons having experience in the field of law of more than 7 years cumulatively as an antecedent advocate and as a judicial officer from being considered as eligible to appear” in the examination.