Saturday, September 23, 2023

Supreme Court expresses its view stating at least one-third of Judges in High Courts should be from district judiciary

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that the norm of having one-third of High Court judges from the district judiciary (service quota) along with the rest from practicing lawyers (the Bar), should be maintained and followed. 

A bench of Justice BR Gavai, justice Vikram Nath, and Justice Sanjay Karol recorded their view in its order and have asked for the responses of all High Courts and State governments in the matter.

As per the current norm two third of them are Bar appointees (practicing advocates) while the rest one third comprises of those elevated from the State judicial services forming the rest.

The Supreme Court has requested Chief Justice to keep the said ratio in mind while making recommendations to the Supreme Court Collegium for the appointment and transfer of High Court judges.

The bench said that it would appreciate a response from all the State governments and High Courts before passing an order.

It has issued  notice to all the Registrar-Generals of HCs and Chief Secretaries of States, returnable on April 18. 

The bench said it wants the bar-service ratio  to be maintained and requested the Chief Justices of the High Courts to keep the same in mind while making recommendations.

The Apex Court was hearing an application to have 50 per cent of High Court judges to be appointed from the service quota, that is, from the judicial services or the district judiciary.

In the beginning of the month, the Court had sought the response of the Union Law Ministry and the Delhi High Court in the matter. 

An intervention application was filed by the Judicial Service Association of Delhi (JSAD) in a petition concerning the service conditions of those on the bench in the High Courts as well as the district judiciary.

The application stated that there has been no constitutional quota that speaks of ratio of High Court appointees being from the judicial service or the bar, service judges are mentioned first in Article 217(2) (appointment and conditions of the office of High Court Judge) of the Constitution.

The applicants contended, shows that the first choice for elevation should be from the district judiciary.

It was further argued that if more judges are appointed from the district judiciary, it will lead to better disposal of cases as well as better judgments.

Given that lowers courts are subordinate to High Courts, service judges are tested and supervised over time, it was added. Further, information on writing skills and other credentials of such candidates are readily available, it was pointed out.

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