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Rules for appointment in judiciary can be changed

  • Published
    19th Jul, 2023

Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) has reserved its verdict on whether “the rules of the game” for appointment to various posts in the judiciary can be changed mid-way through the selection process.

  • According to the procedure prescribed under the Kerala State Higher Judicial Service Special Rules, 1961, the aggregate marks obtained by candidates in the written test and viva voce cumulatively were to be considered for appointment as Additional District Judges.
  • However, the high court changed the selection criteria mid-way and fixed a minimum cut off for calling the candidates for viva voce, that too after completing the entire examination process.
About the case:
  • The Supreme court had on November 24, 2022 agreed to form a ‘constitution bench’ for examining the larger issue raised in a number of petitions about whether “the rules of the game” for appointment to various posts in the judiciary can be modified in the middle of the selection process.
  • After reviewing the matter, the apex court had termed as “manifestly arbitrary” the changes made by the Kerala High Court in the criteria for selection of additional district judges (ADJs) in the state in 2017.
  • The constitution bench, however, had refused to “unseat” those who were selected for the state higher judicial services six years ago, observing such a step will be against “public interest” and “harsh” on them.
  • And also the bench was critical of the changes made by the full bench of the Kerala High Court to the criteria for selection.

Additional Judges:

  • Appointment:
    • Additional Judges can be appointed by the President under clause (1) of Article 224 of the Constitution.
    • Besides, the President has the power to appoint Additional Judges for a temporary period not exceeding two years, for the clearance of areas of work in a High Court.

Additional Judges vs. Ad hoc Judges:

  • When there is a lack of Quorum of permanent judges to hold or continue any session of Supreme Court, the CJI can appoint a judge of a High Court as an ad hoc Judge of the Supreme Court for a temporary period.
  • However, the additional judges are appointed a by the President to discharge any of the functions of a District Judge which the District Judge may assign to them, and, in the discharge of those functions, they shall exercise the same powers as the District Judge.
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