The Supreme Court has directed the Registrar General of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to file its response to a plea which alleged that relatives of former judges and staff were favoured in the appointments in judicial institutions and courts in the Union territory.
A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud initially suggested to a counsel, representing petitioner NGO ‘Jammu and Kashmir People’s Forum, that it should approach the high court with the plea.
However, the CJI, after confabulating with Justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala, decided to hear the plea in the apex court itself and asked the counsel for the high court to file a response within four weeks.
“On the request of the counsel appearing on behalf of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, time for filing the counter affidavit is extended by a further period of four weeks. The counter affidavit shall be filed by the Registrar General of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir after specifically taking instructions and directions only from the learned Chief Justice of the High Court,” the top court said in its order.
The bench then fixed the plea for hearing on April 28.
Presently, Justice N Kotiswar Singh is the Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. He took the oath of office on February 15 this year.
On September 2 last year, the top court had agreed to hear the plea filed by the NGO.
It had then issued notice and sought a response from the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on its administrative side, saying it should be vetted by the Chief Justice of the High Court.
The NGO, in its plea, has alleged that several qualified youths were not considered by the high court in appointments for several administrative posts to various judicial institutions including the judicial academy, legal services authorities, and courts from district to high court level.
The plea claimed that instead of going by the regular recruitment process, contractual workers and daily wagers who were a decade back have since been absorbed against the vacancies as regular employees without affording a chance for the general public.
It said that reservation rules were also bypassed by the High Court even though many of the posts were not sanctioned.
The plea gave names of the relatives of the judges from district to high court level, court staff, and bar association members to canvas the argument that favour was granted in the appointment process.
It sought directions for a probe by an independent agency and to the high court administration to not make any further “backdoor appointments” in judicial establishments like the state judicial academy, legal services authorities, and those recruited under the E-Court mission.