The Madras High Court dismisses pleas filed seeking for the relaxation of the upper age limit to write the District Judge exam from 45 years to 48 years for other backward classes

Madras HC : Encroachment cases are on rise spending most of the Court’s valuable time on it

We can see Indian Judiciary dealing with a lot of Reservation cases and this is one among them. The writ petition was filed to relax the age limit from 45 years to 48 years for appearance in District Judge Exams. The Court held that the age relaxation cannot be compared with Article 16 of Constitution of India and relaxation of age limit cannot be considered as a fundamental right. The Court dismissed the pleas for relaxation of age limit.

The Madras High Court dismissed the writ petition that sought for relaxation of upper age limit for other backward classes from 45 years to 48 years at par with Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribes candidates so as to enable them to write District Judge examination.

Brief Facts:

The petitioners who belong to the backward class file a writ petition before the High Court of Madras under Article 226 of constitution of India seeking for relaxation of age limit for the backward class for District Judge examination at par with the SC and ST candidates. The petitioners sought for relaxation of age limit from 45 years to 48 years and contended that denial of such relaxation to backward classes would amount to unlawful discrimination.They also contend that the classification of candidates with regard to prescribing age limit does not have any rationale and is not intelligible differentia. The petitioners further state that denial of relaxation of upper age limit would defeat the object of Article 16 of the constitution that provide for equal representation leading to violation of constitutional mandate. The petitioner based their claim on the notification dated 13/01/2019 stating that the upper age limit for the backward classes would be 48 years which was later omitted in the impugned notification dated 12/12/2019. The claim of the petitioners is also that the last ever recruitment was made in 2013 and the lapse of 6 years in conducting recruitment have denied their right to apply for the examination. Substantiating their claim the petitioner contended that such relaxation of age limit is made available to the backward classes in the subordinate judiciary. The petitioner sought the court to consider the above and order for relaxation of upper age limit for District Judge examinations.

The counsel appearing for the state defended the claim of the petitioner’s relying on the judgment of the apex court in All India Judge’s Association and others vs. Union of India wherein the court in Paragraph 37 and 38 accepted the recommendations of the Shetty commission in which no relaxation of upper age limit was provided for the backward classes in judiciary. Further the recommendation of the State of Tamil Nadu to relax the age limit for backward classes in District Judge examination was not accepted and hence the decision of the apex court is final. Hence the learned counsel argued that the court cannot go beyond what is stated by the apex court and further delay in recruitment does not by itself confer the petitioner the right to relaxation of upper age limit for the District Judge examination.

The learned counsel for the High court contended that Right to equality does not imply equality in all matters and hence mere denial of relaxation of upper age limit would not amount to discrimination. He further emphasized that when a rule is in existence it cannot be intervened either by the administrative body or by the judiciary. As far as the argument of the petitioner that the age limit has been relaxed in the subordinate judiciary, the counsel defended that the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Service (Cadre and Recruitment) Rules, 1995, as such prescribed the upper age limit as 48 years and there was not any relaxation with respect to the same. He further contended that the notification dated 13/01/2019 is erroneous which is against the existing rules and such erroneous notification does not confer the petitioner right to relaxation of upper age limit.

Key features:

1. After hearing both sides the court remarked that the relaxation of upper age limit cannot be compared to the reservation prescribed under article 16 of the constitution.

2. The court also remarked that the relaxation of upper age limit is not a fundamental right guaranteed under part-III of the Indian Constitution.

3. The court observed that there was no complaint with regard to delay in conducting recruitment prior to the notification dated 13/1/2019 which erroneously prescribed the upper age limit as 48 years for the Backward classes as against the rules and this does not confer any right to the petitioners.

4. The court observed that there were no relaxation of upper age limit for backward classes was prescribed for judiciary in the recommendations of Shetty commission which was accepted by the apex court in its landmark judgment All India Judge’s Association and others vs. Union of India. Whereas on the contrary such relaxation was prescribed for IAS cadre.

The division bench of Madras High Court comprising of Justice AP Sahi and Justice Subrmanium Prasad observed that the court is bound by the decision of the apex court and further emphasised that any clarification with regard to the relaxation of upper age limit in Judicial services can be sought only from the apex court as stated inPara 40 of its judgment in All India Judge’s Association and others vs. Union of India. The court was of the opinion that the petitioners and the schedule caste & Scheduled tribes cannot be compared as they both belong to the different category and further stated that any claim can be pressed only when a right is in existence. Mere chance of appearance or recruitment does not amount to violation of rights. The court further remarked thatit is not the case of the petitioners that no person below the age of 45 years belonging to backward classes, could not apply for the District Judge examination so as to give some justification to the claim. The court observed that loss of opportunity due to delay in holding recruitment process cannot be a ground for relaxation of upper age limit. The court dismissed the writ stating that there is no merit in the claim made by the petitioners.

Edited by J. Madonna Jephi

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

Reference

1. P.Nos.95, 544 of 2020, 35849, 35906 of 2019, W.P.(MD) No.201 of 2020 and W.P.SR No.158006 of 2019, Madras High Court, order dated 06/02/2020

2. Bar and Bench, Reservation cannot be mixed with age relaxation: Madras HC dismisses pleas to relax age limit for backward classes on par with SC/ST candidates for District Judge exam, https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/madras-hc-dismisses-pleas-to-relax-upper-age-limit-for-backward-classes-on-par-with-scst-candidates-for-district-judge-exam, (last visited on 8th February,2020)

Lavanya Narayanan
I am Lavanya Narayanan, pursuing a master's in international law. With three years into the profession, I am currently reviving my long-forgotten passion for writing. As and when I find a time I watch debates and interviews on the current affairs of our nation. My areas of interest are criminal law, women and child rights especially toddlers. I love listening to puranic stories. I believe accepting things you don’t know as you don’t know leads you to the path of growth. Happy reading!