The Kerala High Court held a judgment quashing the appointment of a District Judge since he was not a practicing Advocate during the issuing of appointment order and was in judicial service working as a Munsiff.
The two-judge Division Bench of Justice A. M Shaffique and Justice Gopinath P. dismissed the plea filed by Rejanish K. V. It also gave the certificate to file a plea before the Apex Court on studying that the issue involves a considerable question of law of general importance. Several appointments of District Judges may have been made across the country based on the Rules applicable in the respective States. It may be contrary to the declaration of law in Dheeraj Mor, as in the case of the Kerala Rules.
When Rejanish K. V submitted his application for District Judge, he was a practicing lawyer with 7 years of experience in the Bar. He was also applied for the selection of Munsiff/Magistrate. While the selection process of District Judge was happening, he was appointed as a Munsiff-Magistrate on 28 December 2017. After getting the appointment order for the District Judge, he was released from the Subordinate Judiciary on 21st August 2019 and hence took charge as Thiruvananthapuram District Judge on 24th August 2019.
Another aspirant filed a petition against his appointment stating that he was not eligible for being a District Judge since, at the time of his appointment as a District Judge, he was not a practicing Advocate and was in Judicial Service, working as a Munsiff. In the recent Supreme Court judgment of Dheeraj Mor v. High Court of Delhi, it was held that an advocate who applies for District Judge by direct recruitment should continue to be a practicing Advocate until the date of appointment. The single-judge bench permitted the petition setting aside his appointment since he was not a practicing Advocate on the date of his appointment.
The Division Bench found out that he was not in judicial service while submitting the application. While issuing the appointment order by the Governor of Kerala, he was working as the Judicial Officer. The court also noted that he is qualified according to the norms of Kerala State Higher Judicial Service Special Rules of 1961