'Civil judges can't take exams for district judge post'

The Supreme Court. DH file photo

The Supreme Court has ordered that no new appointment of civil judges could be made to the post of district judges against the quota reserved for the practicing lawyers.

Such junior judges can no longer be allowed to participate in higher judicial services examination for the post of district judges, meant to attract talents from the Bar out of practicing advocates, it said.

“We are not inclined to pass any further interim orders either by permitting in service candidates (civil judges) to stake their claims in the examination or for being appointed (to the post of district judges) as against the quota reserved for Bar,” a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Navin Sinha said.

The top court, at the same time, clarified it was not disturbing the appointments already made by virtue of interim orders. The final decision by a larger bench was still awaited on the issue of allowing civil judges to take the examinations.

“However, no new appointments be made from now onwards of in-service candidates against quota reserved for Bar. In case even if in-service candidate has been selected in the examination held earlier as against the Bar quota no further appointment to be made of such candidates. The practicing advocates who have been found selected for appointment, their result be declared and they be appointed subject to the outcome of the pending matter,” the bench said.

According to Article 233 (2) of the Constitution, a person not already in the service of the Union or of a state becomes eligible for appointment as a district judge only if he has been an advocate or a pleader for at least seven years. The top court had previously allowed a number of serving civil judges, including from Karnataka, to participate in the higher judicial services examination conducted by respective high courts and in some cases by state public service commission.

In a recent order passed in the case of Dheeraj Mor, the apex court said that serious complications would arise in case ultimately in-service candidates were not found eligible for such quota, since the question whether civil judges were entitled to participate in the examination was yet to be decided by a larger bench.

The court also noted in case such interim orders are continued to be granted and the civil judges from the judiciary were permitted to be appointed as against the quota which basically meant for practicing lawyers, serious prejudice may be caused to the Bar incumbents.

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