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Judicial officers in subordinate service cannot stake claim of “past experience” as advocate for being promoted to direct recruitment from the Bar as a District Judge: Patna High Court

When the law is clear from the beginning, the petitioner cannot be allowed to stake claim of being appointed as a District Judge from the stream of advocate and it has to be confined to those advocates who continue to be an advocate all through and also at the time of his appointment. This was said in the case of Sunil Kumar Verma vs The State Of Bihar [CIVIL WRIT No.8306 of 2020] by Justice Shivaji Pandey and Justice Partha Sarthy in High Court of Judicature at Patna.

The facts of the case are the petitioner before joining the subordinate service i.e. on cut-off date, filled up the form, had mentioned the experience of 7 years but, thereafter, he was selected in the Uttar Pradesh Judicial Service, he joined and continued to remain in service. At the same time, he appeared in the examination against the advertisement published for direct recruitment from the Bar as a District Judge in which he was finally selected but, on the date of result, he was in judicial service of the State of Uttar Pradesh. Later he got posted at Begusarai. A show cause letter was issued to him stating that wasn’t a practicing advocate on test dates therefore he was ineligible to be appointed as ASJ.

The petitioner contends that the Constitutional scheme is to be construed in the manner the requisite qualification is co-relative to cut-off date and would not be interpreted in such manner that the person to be remained all through an advocate till the date of his appointment rather only prescription has been provided that a person who is an advocate for 7 years on the cut-off date has been made eligible for consideration for the post. On the other hand, the counsel appearing on behalf of the High Court contended that a person must have 7 years of experience not only on the cut off date but he will remain as such on the date of  examination as well as on the date when he has been appointed .

For the interpretation of Article 233, the Court referred to multitude of cases one of them being, Satya Narayan Singh Vs. High Court of Judicature at Allahabad [(1985) 1 SCC 225] where SC said that “Article 233(2) demarcates two source of recruitment in the District Judge level, one from the person in the judicial service and another from the person who is an advocate having 7 years of qualification, as because they have acquired before joining the State Judicial Service cannot claim recruitment under the different source meant for the advocate”.

The Court also referred to the case of Dheeraj Mor v High Court of Delhi [CIVIL APPEAL No. 1698 of 2020] where SC has made it specifically the entitlement for being appointed as a District Judge in direct quota and postulates that he must be an advocate not only on the cut-off date but also at the time of appointment.

The Court after closely analyzing the facts of the present case in the background of the ratio laid in the above case, dismissed the writ application.

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