Setting aside a Patna high court order forcing magistrates to quit before appearing for an interview for the district judges’ post, the Supreme Court has ruled that a sitting judge cannot be compelled to resign to participate in the selection process.
Taking a dig at the high court for coming up with a “brilliant solution”, a bench said its direction to the magistrates was a “cruel choice.”
For a youngster to give up his or her existing job for the “uncertain possibility of securing a better employment is very cruel,” the bench said.
“If the appellant accepted the advice of the high court but eventually failed to get selected, he might have to regret his choice for the rest of his life.”
The SC explained the distinction between “selection” and “appointment” while disagreeing with the high court that the Constitution did not permit sitting judges to apply for a district judges’ position. The bar was on appointment and not to participate in the selection process, it held.
The SC order came on a petition filed by magistrates who had applied for the post of district judge (entry level) while they were advocates. They had appeared for both the prelims and mains exam and before the results were out, the lawyers qualified for subordinate judicial service in August 2014 and joined the same.
The results for district judges’ exam were declared in January 2015 after which the petitioners got a call for the interview. However, one of the conditions to appear for the interview was a “no-objection certificate from the current employer.” Their applications for the document before the high court registrar’s office were rejected.