Kavita Kamboj vs High Court of Punjab and Haryana 2024 INSC 192- Judicial Service – Cut Off Marks For Viva Voce

Haryana Superior Judicial Service Rules 2007 – High Court Resolution that prescribing that candidates for appointment to the Higher Judicial Service should have a minimum of 50% both in the written test as well as in the viva voce independently- The wisdom of the prescription is clear. A candidate should not just demonstrate the ability to reproduce their knowledge by answering questions in the suitability test, but must also demonstrate both practical knowledge and the application of the substantive law in the course of the interview. The Rules being silent, it was clearly open to the High Court to prescribe such a criterion. (Para 65)

Haryana Superior Judicial Service Rules 2007; Rule 6(1)(a) -Promotion to 65% of the posts to the Higher Judicial Service on the basis of the principle of merit cum-seniority and the passing of a suitability test. The principle of merit-cum seniority is an approved method of selection where merit is the determinative factor and seniority plays a less significant role.19 Where the principle of ‘merit-cumseniority’ is the basis, the emphasis is primarily on the comparative merit of the judicial officers being considered for promotion. Resultantly, even a junior officer who demonstrates greater merit than a senior officer will be considered for promotion- Caution against using seniority as the sole criterion for promotion in such cases -The Higher or Superior Judicial Service is a gateway to eventual appointments to the High Court. Steps may legitimately be taken by the High Court to ensure that appointments to the higher echelons of the judiciary does not become a parade of mediocrity. (Para 45-46)

Constitution of India, 1950; Article 233– In matters of appointment of judicial officers, the opinion of the High Court is not a mere formality because the High Court is in the best position to know about the suitability of candidates to the post of District Judge. The Constitution therefore expects the Governor to engage in constructive constitutional dialogue with the High Court before appointing persons to the post of District Judges under Article 233. (Para 62)

Administrative Law –The appropriate authority cannot amend or supersede statutory rules by administrative actions. However, it is open to it to issue instructions to fill up the gaps and supplement the rules where they are silent on any particular point. Such instructions have a binding force provided they are subservient to the statutory provisions and have been issued to fill up the gaps between the statutory provisions. (Para 50)

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