Allahabad High Court has made it clear that to seek appointment as a Judicial Officer or District Judge under Article 233 of Constitution of India, an advocate has to be in continuous practice for not less than 7 years as on the cut-off date and at the time of appointment. There should be no break in between the practice.
Article 233 deals with the appointment of district judges.
Sub clause (2) of Article 233 mandates that 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 the appointment.
The bench comprising Justice Dr. Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Justice Ajai Tyagi relied on the Supreme Court judgment in Deepak Aggrawal v. Keshav Kaushik and others, (2013) 5 SCC 277. In the judgment, it was held that as per Article 233(2), a person seeking appointment as a District Judge must be practicing as an advocate for continuous 7 years (without any break) on the date of application.
The bench was hearing a plea filed by one Bindu who had applied to be appointed as a District judge/Judicial officer in the UP State Higher Judicial Services.
She had cleared the preliminary exam but was not allowed to appear in the final exam by High Court on the administrative side on the ground that she doesn’t have continuous practice as an advocate for seven years on the date of exam/filling form.
The bench noted that Bindu ceased to be an advocate under Advocates Act of1961 in 2017. She surrendered her practicing licence when she got selected as EXAMINER OF TRADEMARK & G.I. as in August 2017. There was a break in her legal practice during that period and this break can’t be condoned in view of the clear mandate of Article 233.
She was appointed as a Public Prosecutor in CBI where she is still working. However, she was not in continuous practice for 7 years.
“It is clear from the factual data that petitioner cannot seek appointment as Judicial Officer/District Judge in this calendar year as the petitioner does not fulfill the criteria fixed as per provisions of Articles 233, 234, and 236 of the Constitution of India…The term used “has been” [used under Article 233 (2)] is interpreted to mean seven years and has to be in present perfect continuous tense and not has been seven years during any period. This interpretation will not permit us to entertain this petition and grant the mandamus to permit the petitioner to appear in the exam,” the bench said.
The High Court bench dismissed the petition.