NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has said that the High Court is best situated to understand the needs of the judicial service and its judges participating in the selection process do have domain knowledge of subject and the nature of the job.
A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra dismissed an application filed by the Haryana government for permission to conduct the entire selection process of judicial officers through the Public Service Commission.
The state government sought a direction to the court to modify its order passed in 2007, approving the role of the High Court in the recruitment process.
The bench, however, declined the plea after noting that the HC did not place sufficient material to warrant a deviation from the course of action, pursued since 2007, for over 15 years, including, as recently as by the notification of December 14, 2020.
"The state government has not come by placing objective data which would indicate either the inability of the High Court to perform its task thus far or demonstrating that there have been deficiencies in the process conducted by the High Court," the bench said.
The court also relied upon Article 234 of the Constitution which provided that appointments to the judicial service of a State, other than district judges, shall be made by the Governor of the State in accordance with the rules made by him in that behalf, after consultation with the State Public Service Commission and with the High Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to such State.
The bench also referred to the decision taken in the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Ministers by which the High Courts were to be entrusted with the role of making appointments to the judicial service. The court said several states have already ensured the amendment of their Rules framed under Articles 234 and 309 by entrusting the selection process to the High Courts
In other States where the work was being conducted under the authority of the Public Service Commission, the work of selection was being supervised by a committee appointed by the High Court, it said.
The court ordered the state government to take necessary steps within two weeks for filling up 175 vacancies of Junior Civil Judges at the earliest by a committee consisting of three judges of the High Court nominated by the Chief Justice, the Chief Secretary of the State of Haryana, the Advocate General and the Chairperson of the Haryana Public Service Commission.
Acting as amicus curiae, senior advocate Vijay Hansaria and advocate Sneha Kalita submitted that the application by the state government may be disposed of by directing that preliminary and written examination should be conducted by the Haryana Public Service Commission as per Part C of the Punjab Civil Service (Judicial Branch) Rules 1951.
However, viva voce shall be conducted by Selection Committee headed by one or more High Court judges as may be nominated by the Chief Justice of the High Court, they said.
The High Court, on its part, contested the plea made by the state government.