The Supreme Court on Friday sought a response from the Jammu and Kashmir high court in a petition related to backdoor appointments of relatives of judges and other judicial staff in courts.
Jammu and Kashmir People’s Forum, an NGO, had filed the petition through advocate Raj Kishor Chaudhary. In its petition, the NGO has prayed that several highly-qualified but unemployed youth be not considered for the departmental hiring.
The petition gave the names of the relatives of the judges from district to high court level, court staff, and bar association members to canvass the argument that favour was granted in the appointment process.
It alleges that appointments made from 2007 onwards, adhoc or through advertisements, are ‘suspicious’. The petition provided a list indicative of the existing members of staff and the judges of the high court who have extended favour to their kin.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli directed the J&K high court on its administrative side to file its counter-affidavit in the matter, which has to be signed by the Chief Justice of the high court.
The order of the SC said that an NGO has alleged that relatives of former and present judges have been selected without due process for appointments. “We issue notice, liberty to serve the administrative wing of the high court,” the order said, adding that the response to the plea shall be filed within six weeks.
The Jammu and Kashmir People’s Forum in its PIL says 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 level to the high court.
The petition reads that there are instances where amendments have been made in the existing rules just to facilitate backdoor appointments and/or facilitate the appointment of kin of functionaries in higher cadres who otherwise were eligible only for lower cadres and that too if selected after a regular legal recruitment process.
It added that instead of going through the regular recruitment process, contractual workers and daily wagers who were a decade back have since been absorbed into the vacancies as regular employees without affording a chance to the general public. It further said that reservation rules were also bypassed by the high court even though many of the posts were not sanctioned.
The petitioner has also prayed that the high court be directed not to further make any ‘backdoor appointments’ in the high court establishment, the subordinate courts, the State Judicial Academy, and the Legal Service Authority, more particularly staff recruited in the E-Courts Mission Mode.