“Recruitments have been made in gross violation of rules”

In a major embarrassment to the Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission (PSC) and the State Law Department, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has rejected outright the selection of 24 court managers on the ground that it had been made in gross violation of the procedure laid down in the judicial service recruitment rules.

Authoritative sources said a committee, comprising two High Court judges, had been constituted by Chief Justice M.M. Kumar to look into the entire selection procedure after it was pointed out that the PSC had not involved any of the High Court judges in the process. Justice Kumar approved the committee’s observation that the selection had been made in violation of the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Judicial) Rules.

As recommended by the committee, Justice Kumar directed the Registrar-General to communicate to the PSC that the viva voce be held afresh in accordance to the three conditions specified by the State Finance Department, and subsequently the Cabinet, during creation of the 24 posts of court managers.

“Immediately after receiving the direction from the High Court, we have forwarded the same to the PSC on Friday,” Law Secretary Farhat Tasneem told The Hindu . “The High Court is right in its observation that one of the key conditions had been dispensed with by the PSC,” she added.

According to her, the PSC would now form a committee to conduct fresh interviews of the candidates declared eligible and shortlisted already in a written examination. The Chief Justice or one of his nominees would have to be essentially associated with the process.

According to sources in the Finance and Law departments, PSC Chairman S.L. Bhat and the former Law Secretary, Ghulam Hassan Tantray, had contended that there was no need to involve the Chief Justice or his nominee in the selection of court managers as, according to them, it was “just a management service.” They had reportedly claimed that associating the Chief Justice or his nominee, as mentioned in Clause-II of Rule 10 of Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Judicial) Rules, 1967, was restricted only to the selection of the junior judicial officers (munsifs).

The selected list of court mangers was rejected by the Chief Justice after it was scrutinised by the High Court committee. The committee maintained that the Finance Department’s condition of making the selection on the pattern of junior judicial officers could not be dispensed with by the PSC.

On February 24, 2012, the PSC had notified 24 posts of the court managers for appointment at district & sessions courts in 22 districts and one each at the Srinagar and Jammu wings of the High Court. On the basis of a select list, appointment orders were supposed to be issued by the High Court. It was part of the reforms in the administration of justice and management of judicial courts as proposed by the Supreme Court, the Union Ministry of Law and Justice, the National Judicial Academy and the 13th Finance Commission.