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High Court finds selection of judges illegal

Special Correspondent

‘Award of moderation unsustainable in law'


Seven candidates to be called for viva voce

Special recruitment drive ordered


Kochi: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday held that the decision of the selection committee concerned to award moderation to candidates who wrote a written examination for the posts of District and Sessions Judge was unsustainable in law.

The Bench of Chief Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice P.R. Ramachandra Menon observed that the steps taken in pursuance of the decision were also legally unsustainable.

The Bench directed that the seven candidates who were found eligible initially on the basis of the cut-off mark in the written examination be called for viva voce and that they be appointed in accordance with the law.

The court ordered that the reserved quota for various backward communities be filled by a special recruitment drive as provided under the provisions of the Kerala State and Service Subordinate Rules.

The Bench made the ruling while disposing of two writ petitions filed by Minu Mathew and another candidate on the select list .The petitioners said the award of moderation/ grace mark by the High Court for three papers in the written examination had helped several candidates who were otherwise ineligible to get onto the select list. When the select list was challenged before the Supreme Court, the petitioners were directed to file a writ petition before the High Court.

Applications for the posts of District and Sessions Judge in the Kerala High Judicial Service by direct recruitment from the Bar were invited on April 16, 2007. The mode of selection was a written examination and viva voce. As per the notification, the qualifying marks for general candidates and other backward classes had been fixed at 50 per cent and 40 per cent respectively. Of 10 candidates included on the select list, only four had secured the prescribed minimum mark in the written examination without moderation. The other six candidates who failed to score the minimum mark managed to get onto the select list on the basis of a moderation mark of 20.

The High Court Registrar (Subordinate Judicial), in an affidavit, said that grace mark was awarded to meet the requirement of communal reservation rules as enshrined in the Kerala State and Subordinate Service Rules. As the number of qualified candidates was only seven, the recruitment committee bona fide believed that it might not be possible to follow the rules of communal rotation. The only method to get over the difficulty was to award grace mark. This was done taking into account the “tough nature of questions and stiff nature of valuation.”

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