The Madras High Court on Monday directed the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) to accept online applications for the post of Civil Judge under the category of ‘fresh law graduates’ from all those who had completed their law degrees in 2016 irrespective of the month and date in which they had obtained the course completion certificates.
The First Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Vineet Kothari and Justice C. Saravanan passed the interim order on a batch of cases filed by candidates, whose applications were not accepted online as the TNPSC had fixed a cut-off date of September 9, 2016 for eligibility to apply under the category of fresh law graduates.
Though the last date for submitting the applications elapsed on October 9, the judges directed TNPSC to reopen the online window forthwith and accept the applications till 11:59 pm on October 29. They also directed TNPSC to extend the facility of off-line payment of fees for participating in the selection process till October 31.
The applications of even those who had not filed any writ petition in the High Court should be accepted, the judges ordered. They made it clear that such candidates need not file any case even in future since the final decision to be taken on the writ petitions already filed in the court would be binding upon them too.
“The TNPSC shall process the online applications to be filed between October 21 and 29, 2019 in the same manner as has been done for other candidates who have already applied online prior to October 9, issue hall tickets to all the candidates in similar manner, allow them to appear in the examinations and declare their results,” Bench ordered.
The interim orders were passed after it was claimed that a wrong cut-off date had led to an “anomalous” situation of young lawyers, who had cleared their examinations in the first attempt and obtained course completion certificates in August 2016 itself, not being able to apply under the category of ‘fresh law graduates.’
On the other hand, those who had arrears and cleared their examinations after September 9, 2016 were able to submit their applications online without any hassle, the writ petitioners claimed. They contended that such practice would go against the objective of inducting talented young lawyers in the judiciary.
It was the Shetty Commission that had initially recommended that it would be unnecessary to prescribe three years of practice at the Bar as a condition for entering judicial service and that such experience would not be necessary if post-recruitment intensive training on judicial services was imparted to talented young lawyers.
The recommendation was accepted by the Supreme Court in the All India Judges Association case in 2002 and a direction was issued to the State governments to amend their recruitment rules so as to enable fresh law graduates, who had not completed three years of practice, to be eligible to enter judicial service.
It was pursuant to this direction a separate category of ‘fresh law graduates’ was introduced in the State for recruiting lawyers with less than three years of standing at the Bar as judicial officers. However, the fixing of September 9, 2016 as a cut-off date by the TNPSC for the ongoing recruitment process was not a right decision, the petitioners claimed.