The Supreme Court refused to provide reservation for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes in the higher judiciary on Monday as it turned down a plea of a district-level judge from Uttarakhand who sought to be promoted as a high court judge.
“Where is the rule, which says there has to be a quota for SC/ST in the HC? You cannot claim it as a right,” a bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur said, rejecting additional sessions judge Kanta Prasad’s petition demanding a direction to the Uttarakhand high court for reserving its seats for SC/ST judges.
Prasad, presently working as a registrar with the HC’s vigilance department, said the collegium that appoints judges to the appellate court should have considered him since there is no representation from his community in the higher judiciary.
Rejecting his contention, the bench told Prasad’s counsel that elevation to the HC is on the basis of seniority. “Only because you belong to a particular caste doesn’t mean you should become an HC judge. Has anyone junior to you from the services got promoted? If not, there is no reason for your grievance,” the bench said.
A judge’s elevation to the high court usually follows either of two routes -- elevated from the bar to the bench or promoted from the trial court.
The second category of appointments is generally made on the basis of seniority. In Prasad’s case, the SC observed that none senior to him has become an HC judge.
When his counsel insisted the collegium is empowered to appoint judges, the bench told him that no judicial order can be passed to have quota and asked him to send his representation to the bench that recently held a detailed hearing on how to improve the appointment system in order to make it more transparent.