“Estoppel Denied: Court Upholds Ineligibility Criteria, Dismisses Writ Petition for District Judge Post”

Title: Trupti Mayee Patra vs. Registrar, Examination, Orissa High Court

Citation: W.P.(C) No. 35020 Of 2023


Decided on: 3-11-23


This case involves a writ petition presented through a hybrid arrangement (virtual/physical) mode. The petitioner seeks the extraordinary jurisdiction of the court under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India. The primary relief sought is a direction to the Opposite Party to include the petitioner in the list of eligible candidates for participating in the recruitment examination for the position of District Judge from the Bar, 2023. The specific demand is for the issuance of a fresh list to address the petitioner’s inclusion in the said examination


The petitioner, initially enrolled as an advocate with the Orissa State Bar Council, practiced from 2004 to 2014. Subsequently, she joined as a Junior Clerk in the office of District & Sessions Judge, Malkangiri, surrendered her license in 2016, and later became an Assistant Public Prosecutor from March 13, 2018. The petitioner applied for the post of District Judge from the Bar in 2020, 2021, and 2022 but was unsuccessful.

In 2023, the High Court of Orissa issued an advertisement for the same post. The petitioner applied, but her eligibility was questioned, and she was found ineligible due to the requirement of seven years of continuous Bar practice. The respondent argues that the petitioner does not meet this criterion. The petitioner contends that having been allowed to sit for the examination in previous years, she should not be disqualified this time. The court notes the petitioner’s active practice from 2004 to 2014 but finds that she lacks seven years of continuous practice preceding her application.

The case revolves around the eligibility criteria outlined in Article 233 of Chapter-VI (subordinate Courts) of the Constitution of India, specifically Clause 2, governing the appointment of District Judges. The court has to determine whether the petitioner fulfils the necessary criteria for eligibility in the recruitment examination for the post of District Judge from the Bar.

Court analysis & judgement:

In this judgment, the court addresses the petitioner’s plea for inclusion in the eligibility list for the recruitment examination to the post of District Judge from the Bar. The petitioner relies on the principle of estoppel, arguing that having been allowed to appear in the examination in previous years, she should not be disqualified this time. The court dismisses this argument, emphasizing that the inadvertent allowance of a person to appear in an examination earlier, who was not eligible, does not confer a right to appear when the necessary eligibility criteria are not met. The court distinguishes the relied-upon decisions in Basanta Kumar Mohanty and N. Murugesan, stating that they are not applicable to the present case due to different contexts and statutory bars.

The judgment refers to the eligibility criteria stated in the advertisement by the High Court of Orissa, which requires candidates to have at least seven years of practice as an advocate as of April 1, 2023. The court concludes that the petitioner does not meet this criterion, rendering her ineligible for the examination.

The court cites the decisions of the Apex Court in Deepak Aggarwal and Dheeraj Mor, applying them to the present case. It asserts that the petitioner’s lack of continuous practice for seven years makes her ineligible. Consequently, the court upholds the decision of the Opposite Party (OP) to consider the petitioner ineligible for the post of District Judge, stating that it does not require interference. As a result, the writ petition is dismissed as devoid of merit, with no order as to costs.

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Written By: Gauri Joshi

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