The Bombay High Court on Monday dismissed a PIL that took exception to former judges of the High Court practising in the same court after resigning.
A petition filed by activist Nitin Deshpande had urged the court to restrain five senior lawyers who resigned from the post of additional judges of the Bombay High Court from continuing their legal practice before the same court.
A Division Bench of Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice R D Dhanuka,however,held that the constitutional prohibition on returning to the bar of the HC,where an individual formerly held a judges office,is restricted to permanent judges of the court and cannot be extended to additional judges.
Our conclusion is that though the permanent and additional judges perform the same duties and functions,there is yet a cardinal distinction in the Constitution in the tenure of a permanent judge and an additional judge.
While a permanent HC judge serves in his office till the age of retirement (62 years),an additional judge is appointed for a term of two years before he is confirmed as a permanent judge and is administered a separate oath,the court noted.
Deshpandes lawyer Ashish Mehta had also argued that the a common mans perception of a lawyer who has formerly been a judge of the HC is that he may be able to wield influence over the Bench. Justice Chandrachud,however,said there was no question of a former judge being favoured by the Bench. Thats not how judges are trained to look at matters, he said.
He added,Its a matter of concern for us as judges also. For us judgeship is a life-long exercise. Justice Chandrachud,however,said a person may not always resign from an additional judges post for adverse reasons. He said there could be reasons of health or inability to cope with a judges tasks. What do you do in such cases? Should they not practice at all? the court asked.
A battery of senior lawyers representing the HC and the five former additional judges also submitted to the court that Article 220 of the Constitution that was amended in 1956 had restrained only permanent judges of a HC from practicing in the court where they have been judges. The counsels told the court that imposing the restrictions of a permanent judge on an additional judge would then mean that there is nothing like an additional judge.