"Merit Should Not Become A Victim To Nomenclatures"- Delhi HC While Allowing Petitioner To Become District Judge
A Delhi High Court Bench of Justice Najmi Waziri and Justice Vikas Mahajan has set aside a Final Result Notice of the Delhi Higher Judicial Services Examination, 2022 while holding that the petitioner fulfilled the DHJS's requirement of being a continuously practising advocate for not less than 7 years preceding receipt of applications.
The Court observed, "...the petitioner is far more meritorious than the last person in the list who has secured only 530.5 marks. Surely, merit would always be preferred and not become a victim to nomenclatures such as Advocate and Law Officer."
Senior Counsel Samrat Nigam appeared for the Petitioner, while Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao and Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid appeared for the Respondents.
In this case, the writ petition sought the setting aside of the Final Result Notice of the Delhi Higher Judicial Services Examination, 2022, insofar as it rejects the candidature of the petitioner for appointment to the Delhi Higher Judicial Services.
The main issue before the Court was whether the petitioner was covered by the expression "continuously practising advocate for not less than 7 years preceding receipt of applications”, which is a mandatory qualification for selection to the DHJS. The petitioner was a Law Officer working full-time with a PSU.
Relying on a catena of judgments including that of Commissioner of Police and Anr v. Umesh Kumar, the Court observed that "The test as is gleaned from the precedents referred to hereinabove, is: whether the substantive and predominant duties discharged by the candidate is what an advocate would do in her/his legal profession and whether the candidate is engaged to act or plead on behalf of her/his employer in a court of law, tribunal, etc., as an advocate."
In light of the same, the Court observed the petitioner's previous experiences were predominantly of an advocate.
Noting that the enrolment of advocates on its rolls is a function of State Bar Councils, the Court observed that "the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh has specifically considered the petitioner's case under Rule 11 of its Enrolment Rules and has issued him a certificate to the effect that he is a practising advocate, there can be no cause for doubt in this regard. The petitioner was enrolled as an advocate in 2010. He fulfils the requirement of "continuously practicing as an advocate for not less than 7 years on the last date of receipt of applications”."
Therefore, the Court held that he should be considered as a successful candidate. In view of the same, the rejection of the petitioner's candidature as notified in the impugned Final Result Notice was set aside. By extension of the same, the Court also observed that "In any case, the petitioner is far more meritorious than the last person in the list who has secured only 530.5 marks. Surely, merit would always be preferred and not become a victim to nomenclatures such as Advocate and Law Officer."
Cause Title: Ashish Rastogi v. Hon'ble High Court of Delhi & Anr.