Delhi High Court: V. Kameswar Rao, J., refuses to grant relief to the claimant who urged to include 10 years of practice as an advocate for the purpose of calculating pension in addition to qualifying service as Judicial Member of Railway Claims Tribunal.
Petitioner submitted that he was enrolled as an Advocate with the Bar Council of Delhi and also cleared the exam for Advocates on Record and was duly enrolled on October 15, 1998.
In 2015 he was appointed to the post of Member (Judicial) Kolkata Bench of Railway Claims Tribunal (RCT). Then in 2016, he was transferred to the Secunderabad Bench of the RCT where he worked till January 19th. Thereafter, he was transferred to Gauhati Bench of the RCT where he worked till, he completed 5 five years’ tenure on April 21, 2020.
He stated that in terms of Section 5 of the Railway Claims Tribunal Act, 1987, which stipulated qualifications for appointment as Chairman, Vice-Chairman and other Members; a person shall not be qualified for appointment as a Judicial Member unless he is, or has been, or is qualified to be a Judge of a High Court.
According to the petitioner, in view of the above-said provision, he was selected for the post of Judicial Member RCT being found as qualified to be a Judge of a High Court and as per Article 217 of the Constitution of India, the qualifications needed for appointment to the post of a Judge of a High Court, was that one must have at least 10 years of practice as an Advocate.
Claim was with regard to counting of 10 years of practice as an Advocate for the purpose of calculating pension in addition to qualifying service of the petitioner as Judicial Member of the RCT, for pension.
Question of Consideration:
Whether the petitioner is entitled to the counting of 10 years of practice at the Bar, along with the qualifying period put in by him as Judicial Member in RCT?
Analysis, Law and Decision
High Court stated that the Supreme Court’s decision in Government of NCT of Delhi v. All India Young Lawyers Association, (2009) 14 SCC 49, was concerning the Officers of the DHJS, who were appointed to the service, being Advocates practicing at the Bar. Supreme Court while reducing the period from 15 years to 10 years did not interfere, with respect to the grant of benefit of counting of the period of practice put in by an Advocate.
Bench stated that joining the service between the ages of 35 to 45 years, a DHJS Officer puts in at least 15 years of service before demitting the office, which was not the case here, since the appointment of the petitioner was only for a period of 5 years and upon completion of 5 years, he demitted the office.
Therefore, his plea that he was qualified to be a High Court Judge, was appointed as Judicial Member and as such 10 years of practice at the Bar needed to be counted for the pension was unmerited, for the reason that the pension as a Member (Judicial) shall still be governed by the Rules of 1989.
Sr. Panel Counsel, Jagjit Singh during his submission had drawn the attention of the Court towards the Supreme Court decision in Madras Bar Assn. v. Union of India, WP (C) No. 804 of 2020, 27-11-2020 wherein the Supreme Court while considering the Tribunal Rules of 2020, which were notified on 12-02-2020, held Chairpersons, Vice-Chairpersons and Members of the Tribunals appointed prior to 12-02-2020 shall be governed by the parent Statutes and Rules as per which, they were appointed.
Therefore, since the petitioner was appointed prior to 12-2-2020, terms and conditions of appointment of the petitioner as Judicial Member RCT shall necessarily be governed under the Rules of 1989.
In view of the above petitioner was not entitled to any relief. [Ajit Kumar Pande v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 4590, decided on 4-10-2021]
Advocates before the Court:
For the Petitioner: In-person
For the Respondent: Jagjit Singh, Sr. Panel Counsel with Mr Preet Singh, Mr Vipin Chaudhary & Ms Rashmi Malhotra, Advs.