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Petitions against shortlist for recruitment to 17 District Judge posts dismissed

K.T. Sangameswaran

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Wednesday dismissed petitions challenging the shortlisting of candidates for viva voce for direct recruitment to 17 posts of District Judge (Entry Level).

The petitioners had also sought for a direction to the authorities to prepare a valid shortlist of candidates by giving weightage to the length of practice at the Bar and a proper zone for women candidates on a par with men candidates.

In its common order dismissing the petitions, a Division Bench comprising Justices P.Jyothimani and Justice N.Paul Vasanthakumar said the rules did not contemplate giving any preference or adding marks for experience at the Bar of candidates, who were eligible for appointment by direct recruitment. In the absence of any such provision in the statutory rules, which were the governing factors, mere use of words in the notification inviting candidature issued by the government enabling to take the length of Bar practice for shortlisting, did not, in the Bench's considered view, enable the petitioner to claim the same as a matter of right. Length of practice at the Bar in the notification could not be taken as a compulsory requirement for the selection process. The same could be taken into consideration only in case of tie of marks between candidates in the ultimate selection process.

The Bench said in the light of the established principle that the benefit under Article 16 (4) (Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment ) could not be claimed as a matter of right, and in the context of merit to be maintained in public service, reliance placed by the petitioners would be of no assistance to their case.

Citing a judgment, the Bench said it was clear and categorical that the provision given for women, of course, as a matter of right, for appointment was horizontal, applicable to each and everyone of the reserved categories viz., SC/ST/MBC., etc. The provision could not be said to be vertical reservation which was on social basis. In respect of horizontal reservation, there was no question of any separate zone of consideration required.

The Judges said there were absolutely no grounds to interfere with the impugned proceedings in shortlisting the candidates for viva voce. The writ petitions failed.

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