Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: While deciding the instant petition challenging the appointment of a District and Sessions Judge, the Bench of P.V. Asha, J., placing reliance upon Dheeraj Mor v. High Court of Delhi, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 213; set aside the appointment as the appointee was not anadvocate’ as on the date of his appointment as per the requisite and was instead in Judicial Service as on the last date fixed for completing step 2 of the process of the recruitment.

As per the facts, the High Court of Kerala issued Notification dated 21-11-2017 inviting applications for appointment as District and Sessions Judges in the Kerala Higher Judicial Service by direct recruitment from the Bar. After the written examination and interview, the High Court published list of candidates who qualified in the examination. On 08-06-2019 the High Court issued notice that the candidates who were Judicial Officers on the date of publication of recruitment notification would not be considered for appointment as District and Sessions Judges.

However, the respondent was appointed as a Sessions Judge against the NCA vacancy of Ezhavas/ Thiyyas/ Billavas. Petitioner’s counsel S. Sreekumar argued that in the aforementioned Dheeraj Mor case the Supreme Court made it clear that the quota set apart for direct recruitment cannot be filled up by those in service and that a candidate submitting application shall continue to be a practising advocate as on the date of his appointment, therefore the petitioner should be appointed in the place of the respondent/ appointee. The respondent’s counsel S.P.Aravindakshan Pillai, contended that the eligibility of a candidate is determined as on the date of final submission of his application. It was stated that since he had already completed the process of submitting application. As per the respondent crucial date for determining eligibility was 27-12-2017 which was the last date for submitting application and that he was a practising Advocate till he joined as Munsiff-Magistrate,  and started discharging his duties on 12-02-2018. The respondent contended that the date and the requirement was that candidates should possess the qualifications with respect to age and 7 years of practice as advocate as on 01-01-2017.

Perusing the contentions, the Court observed that petitioner had all the qualifications as was required and mentioned by Kerala State Higher Judicial Service Rules i.e. age between 35-45; a practising Advocate having a standing of not less than 7 (seven) years of practice as on the first day of January 2017. The petitioner was inducted in Kerala Judicial Service as Munsiff-Magistrate only with effect from 12-02-2018 and hence continuing as an Advocate till the charge of the post was taken on 12-02-2018.

Therefore, even on extension of the date of closure of step II process from 11-01-2018 to 22-01-2018, the petitioner continued to be an Advocate. The Court further observed that the concerned paragraph in the Notification and Rules containing the clause “save as otherwise provided” cannot apply to eligibility regarding qualification. It can only be with respect to requirements for which no date or condition is provided. Therefore, it cannot be said that eligibility with respect to qualification is to be determined as on the date of closure of step II process. The Court also noted that in Dheeraj Mor case, the Supreme Court clarified the position stating that, “for direct recruitment as District Judge as against the quota fixed for the advocates/pleaders, incumbent has to be practicing advocate and must be in practice as on the cut-off date and at the time of appointment he must not be in judicial service or other services of the Union or State. For constituting experience of 7 years of practice as advocate, experience obtained in judicial service cannot be equated/ combined and advocate/pleader should be in practice in the immediate past for 7 years and must be in practice while applying on the cut-off date fixed under the rules and should be in practice as an advocate on the date of appointment.” After examining the concerned Rules and the Supreme Court decision, the Court deemed it fit to allow the petition and held that as the petitioner is entitled to be appointed in place of the respondent. [K. Deepa v. State of Kerala, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 2769 , decided on 14-07-2020]    

Interviews

1. Could you please introduce yourself, professionally and academically, to our readers?

Hi everyone, I completed my undergraduate studies from Institute of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad with honors in Constitutional Laws and presently pursuing LL.M in Human Rights and Value Education from Rajasthan University. In 2016, I appeared for Rajasthan Judicial Services Examination and got selected as a Civil Judge/Judicial Magistrate securing 2nd Rank in Rajasthan.

2. What motivated you to pursue law, and then go for judicial services?

Pursuing law and becoming a Judge was actually destined though after completing 12th in science stream I chose engineering as my career option. It was only in second semester of engineering, I started introspecting about what actually interests me and one thing always kept hovering my mind, my grandfather’s dream to see me as a Judge. I dropped engineering and appeared for CLAT and took admission in Nirma University. Being very dignified and respected, Judicial Services has always attracted me but somewhere I was caught up in dilemma between Civil Services and Judicial Services. Finally in 4th year I decided to choose Judicial Services as my dream job and started preparing for it with full determination and commitment.

Chitrakshi Singh 13. Please tell us about your time at ILNU. What experiences during these five years would consider key?

My time at ILNU is the most valuable experience. The environment provided by the Institution has resulted in my all round personality development and has boosted up my confidence. The guidance and motivation of my professors has helped a lot in shaping my career. In ILNU, I had both bitter and sweet experiences and every downfall taught me a life lesson. Even my friends played a significant role in making me what I’m today. The time spent in ILNU defines the best part of my success story.

4. How did you prepare for the Judicial Services Examination?

Well, preparation for Judicial Services Examination requires a focused mind with a planned framework. I made each day schedule to cover the whole syllabus in a limited time. After completion of my graduation, I studied 10-12 hours everyday, in which I gave 2-3 hours for reading general knowledge, recent judgments and newspaper. One should focus equally on English and Hindi language papers, it needs lots of practice. So, I started from basic grammar and improvise my vocabulary. No fixed strategy is there for clearing the exam, what one requires is patience and determination, your hard would definitely pay off.

5. Generally, students have a tendency to ignore Moots, debates and other extracurricular activities if they want to go into judiciary or civil services. What are your views on this?

Moot Courts, Debates and other co-curricular activities help in developing the confidence and intellect that every judicial officer must possess. Moot Courts and debates helps in improving oratory skills and enhance knowledge. Preparing memorials for Moot Courts improvise research and drafting skills which proved to be very helpful for judicial and civil services. Co-Curricular activities develop team spirit and compassion towards other fellow members which is very much important in professional career.

6. When did you start your preparations? When should a student ideally start preparation for the judicial services examination?

Formally I started preparing during my last semester. My advice to the aspirants is to start preparing at the beginning of 4th year and focus more on major Acts like CrPC, CPC, IPC, Evidence Act, Constitution, Personal Laws, Mercantile Laws etc. this would definitely reduce your workload and last moment’s anxiety. Prepare self notes of each subject that will help you in a quick revision for Mains examination.

7. How far internships played role in shaping you and share your important internship experiences?

Internships offered by law schools proved very advantageous in shaping a person’s career. My Internships in Supreme Court, High Court of Rajasthan and Lower Court, Jaipur provided practical experience and a close look at the day to day responsibilities that come with being a judge or a lawyer. A good internship experience adds a lot to the personality. It provides a way to apply the concepts and principles learned in the Institution to situations in the real world. In the legal field, where every day is new challenge, one has to uphold the integrity of rule of law, the importance of internship enhances manifold.

8. What importance does CGPA holds for a judicial services aspirant?

A good CGPA and academic achievements definitely shows one’s confidence and ability to work hard. But this is just one parameter, one can’t be judged on the sole criteria of CGPA, what matters is your legal knowledge and ability to apply your judicial mind.

9. Tell us about the interview and what kind of questions was asked?

Interview is basically assessment of candidate’s suitability for the position of a judge. Interview Board assess your confidence, ability and commitment towards the position. Interview is a mix of legal and personal questions. One should have clear conception of all the law subjects, your background, home town, academics, work experience, recent legal developments etc. Questions asked were mostly from procedural laws like CrPC, CPC, Domestic Violence Act, family background, general knowledge of Rajasthan specially hometown, why the Judiciary.

10. What would you advice to the Judicial aspirants reading the interview?

For the aspirants of judicial services, I would advise them to be confident and focused to clear the Examination with flying colors. Candidates must go through every subject given in RJS syllabus thoroughly, each and every subject is equally important. This exam requires a great hard work and commitment with proper planning and determination. Do away from all kinds of distractions, keep working hard, analyse your mistakes and weaknesses, learn from them, Success is bound to follow.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Andhra Pradesh & Telangana: In a writ petition challenging the validity of Rule 7 of the Andhra Pradesh State Judicial Services Rules, the Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan, CJ. and A. Shankar Narayan, J. allowed the petitioner, a visually challenged person, to participate in the selection process for appointment to posts in the Andhra Pradesh State Judicial Services.

In the instant case, the petitioner submitted his application to appear in the aforementioned Judicial Services exam but his application was rejected and he was told that he was not entitled to appear in the examination and also, no reservation could be provided to him. The petitioner argued that State’s Judicial Service Rules violated his right to equality as it provides reservation for Physically handicapped persons but does not allow any reservation for persons with visual disabilities being in violation of Sections 32 and 33 of the Person with Disabilities Act, 1995 which provides for at least 3% quotas for people with disabilities, of which 1% should be for those with blindness or low vision. They further argued that Delhi Judicial Services Examination in 2015 provided such reservation to the visually challenged and other High Courts too had similar provisions.

The Court held that the question whether reservation should be provided in Judicial Services for the blind, can only be examined after a counter-affidavit is filed by the respondents but the petitioner cannot be denied participation in the selection process under the open category merely on account of his blindness. [Arepalli Naga Babu v. High Court of Hyderabad, Writ Petition No. 31033 of 2016, decided on 14-11-2016]