August 29, 2018
An interesting issue arose up for consideration by the High Court of Bombay in the instant case, whereby the appointment of judicial aspirants not having knowledge of local language i.e. Marathi in the present case was closely scrutinized by the Division Bench of the High Court of Bombay.
Case name: Shobhit Gaur of Delhi v. State of Maharashtra & ors.
In the case, the Petitioner challenged Respondent’s decision, whereby the Respondent Commission had declared the Petitioner as “not suitable” for the post of Civil Judge Junior Division and Judicial Magistrate First Class in view of Rule 2(f) read with Rule 5(3)(b) of the Maharashtra Judicial Service Rules 2008. The impugned Rule mandates that no person selected for nomination shall be appointed unless the appointing authority is satisfied that he is of good character and is in all respects suitable for appointment.
The Petitioner herein enrolled himself with the Bar Council of Delhi as an advocate has been practicing as an advocate in the Courts in Delhi. Through Right to Information, the Petitioner discovered that he was denied appointment on the ground of lacking eligibility condition of 3 years practice as an Advocate in the High Court and the Courts subordinate thereto.
Aggrieved by the aforesaid, the Petitioner approached the High Court of Bombay alleging the impugned rule as an unreasonable classification between Advocates who are similarly situated.
Bombay High Court
The Two-Bench of the High Court of Bombay dismissed the petition, while making the following observations in the case:
- While referring to precedents, the High Court noted that the emphasis in respect of the knowledge of Marathi has also received the imprimatur of a Division Bench of this Court in the case of Prashant P Giri and others v/s. State of Maharashtra and ors.
- The High Court also observed that the Petitioner is not practicing in Maharashtra but is practicing in Delhi. Hence, in terms of Rule 5(3)(b) read with Rule 2(f) , the Petitioner does not fulfill the eligibility criteria.
- While arriving at its verdict, the High Court of Bombay also made reference to the case of Pandurangrao etc. v/s. The Andhra Pradesh Public Service Commission, Hyderabad and anr., wherein the Apex Court observed that it would be perfectly competent to the authority concerned to prescribe qualifications for eligibility for appointment to the said service.
- That knowledge of local laws as well as knowledge of the regional language and adequate experience at the bar may be prescribed as qualifications which the applicants must satisfy before they apply for the post. The Apex Court further observed that the practice in subordinate Courts or in the High Courts, may also be a relevant test to prescribe.
- The other issue spring up before the High Court was whether on account of the Petitioner’s name being in the select list, he was entitled to be appointed. In this context, the High Court stated that it is trite that merely because a candidate’s name appears in the select list, he has no indefeasible right for appointment.
The entire case can be accessed here.