Requirement of ‘A’ Grade in past 5 years for appointment to post of District Judge not arbitrary: Delhi HC

High Court is the body which is intimately familiar with efficiency and quality of officers, fit to be promoted as District Judges.

Delhi High Court: The Division Bench comprising of S. Ravindra Bhat and Sunil Gaur, JJ., addressed a petition of a senior Delhi Higher Judicial Service DHJS Officer in regard to “new criteria for appointment to the position of District and Sessions Judge.”

The grievance that the petitioner placed before the Court was that her Fundamental Right to Equality has been violated due to the adoption of resolution evolving new criteria for appointment to the position of District and Sessions Judge by the Full Court of the Delhi High Court. In accordance to the criteria now there was a requirement of “A” grading in each of the previous years of ACR appraisals.

The contentions submitted by the petitioner were that pursuant to the changes in the earlier adopted 2009 Resolution concerning the appointment to the position of District and Sessions Judge, it had adversely affected the progression prospects of many Additional District Judges and now it had affected the petitioner too. Further, she alleged that she was kept in dark regarding the changes made to the resolution as it was never communicated to her. The whole move of modification would jeopardize the promotion prospects in the Higher Judicial Services and also violate Article 16 of the Constitution of India. The next contention put forward was, that Rule 27 of DHJS Rules is arbitrary and unprincipled and was unsustainable.

The High Court, concluding the matter stated above analysed both the issues placed by the petitioner. Petitioner’s grievance with respect to her lack of knowledge or not being aware was not justified and stating that “her judicial work was not up to the mark on the basis that she did not know that the best performance would result in selection of District Judge” is something not to be heard by the Court as “service in a judicial department is a mission, given the solemn nature of judging.” Therefore, the Court found no substance in any of the contentions of the petitioner and dismissed the petition by laying down a 5 pointer note to be kept in mind by the appraisal evaluation authorities, which was as follows:

  • Judicial officer concerned should be award out of 100 marks maximum.
  • 100 marks shall be done with a break up of –
  • 20% for quality of judgments.
  • 25% may be awarded for the institution/disposal ratio.
  • Maximum 20% may be awarded for the total number of final judgments delivered in the contested matters.
  • Maximum of 10% for timeliness, promptness in delivery of judgments.
  • 25% by the appraising High Court judge/committee on the basis of interaction/inspection.
  • Allowance should be given wherever the judicial officer is assigned burdensome administrative tasks.
  • No officer should be subject to appraisal of any one judge or committee for more than 2 Consecutive years.
  • Instructions to be issued to the appraising judges/committees to forward instances of outstanding or poor judgments for due consideration and input for the ACR appraisal.

The petition was disposed of on the note that the abovestated directions in respect to the formulation of criteria for uniform grading of judicial officers be suitably incorporated.[Sujata Kohli v. High Court of Delhi,2018 SCC OnLine Del 1069, decided on 21-08-2018]

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