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Supreme Court dismisses Judicial Officer’s challenge against Promotion Norms of Delhi High Court

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On Friday 24.04.2020 Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the Constitutional validity of certain Resolution and Rules of the Delhi High Court which outlines the criteria for a Judicial Officer to be appointed to the post of District and Sessions Judge.

Brief Facts of the Case

This appeal is directed against the judgment and order dated 21.08.2018 of Delhi High Court, whereby the High Court dismissed the petition filed by the appellant Sujata Kohli, member of Delhi Higher Judicial Services, seeking to challenge the Full Court Resolution dated on 28.04.2009, 15.01.2010, and 27.01.2011 concerning the criteria for appointment of a member of Higher Judicial Service to the post of District Judge and Session Judge.

While passing the order, the High Court upheld the gradual implementation of the eligibility criteria for promotion regarding grading in the Annual Confidential Report.

While concluding, the High Court made certain observations on the desirability of uniform norms for the award of such grading; and issued directions for evolving uniform grading system for future implementation.

Respondent’s Arguments

On 28.04.2009, the High Court held a meeting of Full Court and adopted that, to be selected/promoted as a District and Session Judge, a Higher Judicial Service applicant should meet some requirements of getting

  • at least two ‘A’ (very good)
  • and three ‘B+’ (good)

The requirement was modified by another full-court resolution dated 15.01.2010 to the effect of being selected/promoted as District and Session Judge, a candidate of Higher Judicial Services ought to possess the minimum A (very good) grading in ACRs of each five years under consideration.

The High Court on appeal decided to enforce in a phased manner the revised requirements envisaged in the resolution 15.01.2010. From the material reported by the respondent, it further appears that the Administrative and General Supervisory Committee of the High Court, as its meeting on 13.09.2013 decided that the status of the Principle Judge, the Family Court is equal to that of the District and Session Judge, should also follow the same requirements.

This resolution was duly given effect to in the Full Court meeting by curriculum dated 28.01.2014. Notably, the cases of all individuals falling within the ambit of review, including that of the appellant were considered and when making recommendations for appointment, some of the incumbents including the appellant were not deemed fit for such an appointment based on the requirements set out in the resolution of 28.04.2009, 15.01.2010, 27.01.2011.

It also appears that numerous recommendations were made by the Full Court in the resolution dated 16.04.2015, 19.09.2015, 28.11.2016 for appointment to the post of District and Session and Principal Judge, Family Court. The cases of all the persons falling within the ambit of consideration were considered but when making recommendations some of the incumbents including the appellant were not deemed to be fit for such an appointment.

Arguments By The Appellant

Having successfully participated in the written examination and interview, the appellant secured third place in her batch for direct selection to the DHJS cadre and was duly named on 27.11.2002. Subsequently, her place in the batch becomes second with the nominee resigning at second.

The appellant was subsequently named as Additional District and Session Judge by notification dated on 19.12.2005. For the relevant years, the appellant’s ACR grades had been that she was awarded ‘B+’ (good) in the years 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013; and in 2104 she was awarded ‘A’ (very good). The appellant had argued that despite her representation many appointments were made to the post of Principal Judge, Family Court from her batch.

Decision Of High Court

The High Court analyzed the Full Court Resolutions and proceeded to examine the grievance of the appellant. The High Court observed that such position was sought to be rectified by structuring the discretion with emphasis on certain threshold gradings and such administrative criteria cannot be termed as arbitrary.

However, before concluding, the High Court observed that though the existing system of grading of the judicial officers by the committees comprising of three High Court judges was merited, there is no uniform set of rules or guidelines for the appraisal committees to follow, it was in the fitness of things that to inject greater uniformity and objectivity as also some measure of transparency and predictability, certain norms and performance indicators be kept in view by the evaluation authorities.

The submission on behalf of the contesting respondent has been that the appellant is not entitled to any relief because all the candidates recommended for promotion had better ACR gradings than the appellant. As a result, this appeal fails and is therefore dismissed with no order as to cost and with observations foregoing. is now on Telegram. Follow us for regular legal updates and judgements from the court. Follow us on Google News, InstagramLinkedInFacebook & Twitter. You can also subscribe for our Weekly Email Updates. You can also contribute stories like this and help us spread awareness for a better society. Submit Your Post Now.

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