SC terms prima facie inappropriate deferring of Delhi Higher Judicial Service Exam by HC

New Delhi, Mar 11 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Friday termed as prima facie inappropriate the Delhi High Court order of deferring by four weeks the Delhi Higher Judicial Service [DHJS] Examination-2022, which is scheduled on March 20.

The bench, headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, asked senior advocate A.D.N. Rao, appearing for the Registrar General of the Delhi High Court, to inform the persons, who had moved the high court,  to submit their application forms for taking up the DHJS Exam by March 12.

The bench, also comprising justices A.S. Bopanna and Hima Kohli, on another plea related to the Delhi Judicial Service Examination [DJSE], permitted advocate Devina Sharma to submit her application form for the test subject to the outcome of the petition.

The lawyer, referring to the pandemic situation and non-holding of DJSE in 2020 and 2021 by the high court, is seeking relaxation in the age limit of 32 years for applying for judicial services.

The apex court was hearing two separate appeals of the Delhi High Court’s registry against two separate orders of the division benches of the high court.

A division bench of the high court on March 4 had deferred by four weeks the DHJS Examination, which was to be held on March 20, while hearing a batch of pleas challenging the minimum age criteria of 35 years fixed for applying for the post of district judge.

Another division bench of the high court, on March 8, had directed that the last date for receiving applications for DJSE-2022 be rescheduled and the exam be postponed while hearing a plea challenging fixation of an upper age limit of 32 for the candidates.

“It is unfortunate that Petitioners (who were challenging minimum age criteria of 35 years for DHJS) before the High Court have not made an attempt to submit their application for the post. They moved the High Court seeking relaxation of age. The High Court has while issuing notice directed to extend the application date beyond April 7.
In all fairness, taking into consideration of the fact that more than 1,200 applications received it was not prima facie appropriate to extend the time limit and extend the (DHJS) exam”, the apex court order said.

It asked the counsel for the high court to inform the candidates by telephone or e-mail that they must send applications by March 12.

In the other appeal, related to DJSE, the bench said, the party in person (Devina Sharma) submitted that her limited prayer is that she may be permitted to appear in the examination. It is submitted that there are more than 5,700 candidates already applied

“…taking into consideration the time schedule fixed by the court, we feel it necessary to hear the matter and dispose of the same without creating any confusion and stalling the examination. For time being, we permit the Respondent (Devina) to submit the application and list matters on Tuesday for final disposal.”

The bench has now posted the matters for further hearing on March 15.

Senior advocate Rao, appearing for the Delhi High Court Registry, said over 7,000 applications have been received by the high court for the DHJS and DJSE, and the examination processes have been interfered with by two separate orders of the high court at the instance of some candidates

Devina said that the whole world has suffered the pandemic and the upper age limit of 32 years for DJSE to be relaxed as the exam was not held in 2020 and 2021.

“How can the examination be stalled for you only?” the bench asked.

A high court bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and D.K. Sharma had taken note of Sharma’s petition and had sought a response from the high court’s registry.

Sharma had sought relaxation in the upper age limit for eligibility to appear in DJSE 2022, for which the last date of submission of the application is March 20. The preliminary exam is scheduled for March 27.

She said she was born in April 1989 and is not eligible to apply for the exam as she is beyond the age of 32 years as of January 1, 2022.

“The last examination was held for the year 2019 and thereafter was not held for two successive years, that is, 2020 and 2021 on perhaps on account of the global pandemic, that is, COVID-19. Had the said examination been held in either of these two years, the petitioner would have been eligible to appear in the examination in these years, which are preferably required to be conducted each year in terms of the Delhi Judicial Services Rules, 1970,” the petition said.