HC stays interim order stopping appointment of law officers
Srinagar: The High Court today stayed a single bench order that stopped fresh appointment of Law officers (except that of Advocate General) in the Union Territory of J&K.
Hearing an appeal against the June 29, 2021 order by the single judge court, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Puneet Gupta stayed the order and listed the matter for hearing on 23rd of this August.
The single Judge order had said “the policy of the engagement of government lawyers at all levels deserves fresh look and it is imperative that these engagements are merit based and do not fall foul of Article 14 of the Constitution of India”.
The judge had also directed the petition to be treated as Public Interest Litigation (PIL).
“Till the matter is considered no fresh appointments shall be made of the law officers except the Advocate General,” he had ordered.
D C Rainha, Advocate General of J&K termed the order as patently without jurisdiction and contended that it could not have been passed once the judge had declined to hear the writ petition and directing it to be treated as PIL.
It may be pertinent to mention here that the Department of Law Justice and Parliamentary Affairs had issued an advertisement inviting applications for engagement for 40 vacancies of standing counsels in the Union Territory.
Laying down the eligibility criteria the advertisement provided for 30 marks for the experience, 10 marks for higher qualification than the Degree of Law, 50 marks on the basis of legal work done in courts such as instituting suits/filing of defence and 10 marks for the professional achievements, awards.
Counsel for the respondent vehemently contended that the criteria laid down under the advertisement are faulty and ultra vires to SRO 98 of 2016.
The single judge court stated that there is no rationale for allocation of marks for the qualification higher than the Degree of Law when the Chief Justice of India and the Judges of Supreme Court and the High Courts can be appointed with the simple qualification of LLB only.
The division bench after hearing the parties observed that the court of single bench has exceeded its power of judicial review.
“To pass a stop-order on the appointments which is apparently without jurisdiction as at one place the Court refers the matter to the Chief Justice for treating it as a Public Interest Litigation and at the other, makes observations on the merits so as to pass the interim order,” it said.