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Appointment of District Judge

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The district judge is also called the “Metropolitan session judge” when he is presiding over a district court in a city that appointment of District Judge is designated “Metropolitan area” by the State Government. The district court has appellate jurisdiction over all subordinate courts situated in the district on both civil and criminal matters. The district and sessions judge is often referred to as “district judge” when presiding over civil matters and “sessions judge” when presiding over criminal matters. Under Article 233 (1) Appointments of persons to be and the posting and promotion of, district judges in any State shall be made by the Governor of the State in consultation with the High Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to such State. Under Article 233 (2) A person not already in the service of the Union or of the State shall only be eligible to be appointed a district judge if he has been for not less than seven years an advocate or a pleader and is recommended by the High Court for appointment

The Constitution makers consciously wished that members of the Bar should be considered for appointment at all three levels, i.e. as District judges, High Courts, and the Supreme Court. This was because counsel practicing in the law courts has a direct link with the people who need their services; their views about the functioning of the courts is a constant dynamic.SC recently ruled that the only opportunity to be District Judges is through promotion in accordance with the Rules framed under Article 234 and held that subordinate judicial officers cannot apply or compete for direct appointment as District Judge even if they have previous experience of seven years as an advocate.SC judgment while interpreting direct appointment under Article 233, said it is only available to advocates or pleaders with seven years of legal practice. The Article expressly bars candidates in service of either the Union or the State.

Thus by the new judgment “Members of judicial service having seven years’ experience of practice before they have joined the service or having combined experience of seven years as both a lawyer and judicial officer are not eligible to apply for direct recruitment as a District Judge,” The court held that prohibition on judicial officers staking a claim to District Judgeship through direct recruitment under Article 233(2) is not ultra vires nor a violation of their fundamental rights to equality and equal opportunities in public employment. The judgment also noted that judicial officers directly appointed under Article 233 cannot continue as District Judges. They would be reverted to their original posts and the respective High Courts would consider their promotion in accordance with the prevailing Rules in case they were superseded by their juniors. The court held that an advocate, to be eligible under Article 233, has to be continuing in practice for seven years as on the cut-off date and at the time of appointment as District Judge.

 

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