The Supreme Court has held that appointment for the post of a civil judge cannot be rejected on the only ground that a candidate’s husband, an advocate, had appeared for some of the CPI (Maoist) leaders in bail matters. A Bench of Justices A.K. Patnaik and H.L. Gokhale criticised the Andhra Pradesh High Court for rejecting a candidate for selection for the post of civil judge.

The Bench said, “Appellant K. Vijaya Lakshmi has denied any association with CPI (Maoist) party or CMS. She has, however, stated that maybe her husband appeared as an advocate for some persons associated with the CPI (Maoist) Party in their bail applications.” The Bench agreed with her contention that she could not be made to suffer because of her husband appearing for some litigants.

Writing the judgment, Justice Gokhale said, “We see the merit of this submission. Those who are participating in politics and are opposed to those in power, often have to suffer the wrath of the rulers. It may occasionally result in unjustifiable arrests or detentions. The merit of a democracy lies in recognising the right of every arrested or detained person to be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice. All such accused do have the right to be defended lawfully until they are proved guilty, and the advocates have the corresponding duty to represent them, in accordance with law. Taking any contrary view in the facts of the present case will result into making the appellant suffer for the role of her husband who is discharging his duty as an advocate in furtherance of this Fundamental Right of the arrested persons.”

Significant service

The Bench said, “We cannot ignore that during the freedom struggle, and even after independence, many leading lawyers have put in significant legal service for political and civil right activists, arrested or detained. In the post-independence era we may refer to the valuable contribution of the late Sarvashri M.K. Nambiar, (Justice) V.M. Tarkunde, and K.G. Kannabiran (from Andhra itself) to name a few of the eminent lawyers who discharged this duty by representing such arrested or detained persons even when they belonged to banned organisations.”

‘No material record’

“Here we are concerned with whether the appellant could be turned back at the very threshold on the ground of her alleged political activities. There is no material on record to show that the appellant has engaged in any subversive or violent activities. And as far as her connection with the CPI (Maoist) is concerned, there is no material except the report of police, the bonafides of which are very much disputed by the appellant. Besides, since the report was neither submitted to nor sought by the High Court, there has not been any consideration thereof by the High Court Administration,” the Bench said, adding, “Prima facie, on the basis of the material on record, it is difficult to infer that the appellant had links/associations with a banned organisation. In view of this constitutional and legal framework, we are clearly of the view that the High Court has erred firstly on the administrative side in discharging its responsibility under Article 234 of the Constitution and then on the judicial side in dismissing the writ petition filed by her.” The Bench setting aside the impugned order directed the State Government to place the police report (produced before the Division Bench) for the consideration of the High Court on the administrative side within two weeks. The Selection Committee of the High Court should consider within four weeks all relevant material and take appropriate decision and forward the same to the State Home Secretary.