How the High Court Judges are appointed and what are are their qualifications?

Appointment of Judges:

Every High Court consists of a Chief Justice and such other Judges as the President may from time to time determine. Thus, the Constitution does not fix any maximum number of Judges of a High Court. The Judges of the High Court are appointed by the President.

According to Article 217, the President appoints the Chief Justice of a High Court after consultation with the Chief Justice of India and the Governor of the State concerned. In the matter of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief Justice he may consult even the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned.

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In Judges’ Transfer Case, S.P. Gupta v. Union of India, AIR 1982 S.C. 149, the majority decision of Supreme Court observed that all the three functionaries, le., the Chief Justice of India, the Governor of the State and the Chief Justice of the High Court are given equal importance in the consultation process and there is no superiority over the opinion of one with that of another.

In a historic judgment in S.C. Advocates on Record Association v. Union of India, (1993) 4 S.C.C. 441, the Supreme Court by a 7-2 majority overruled its earlier decision in judges transfer case, i.e. „ S.P. Gupta v. Union of India, and held that in the matter of appointment of judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, the Chief Justice of India should have primacy.

The court held that the greatest significance should be attached with the view of the Chief Justice of India taking into account the views of the two senior most judges of the Supreme Court.

Transfer of a Judge from one High Courts to another

According to Article 222 (1). The President after consultation with the Chief Justice of India can transfer a Judge from one High Court to another High Court. Clause (2) of the Article 222 provides for the grant of compensatory allowance to a Judge who goes on transfer to another High Court.

In Union of India vs. Sakal Chand, AIR 1977 S.C. 2328, the constitutionality of a notification Issued by the President by which Justice Sakal Chand Sheth of the Gujarat High Court was transferred to the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, was challenged on the ground that the order was passed without the consent of the Judge and against public interest and without effective consultation of the Chief Justice of India. The Supreme Court held by majority that a Judge of High Court could be transferred under Article 222 (1) without his consent.

Resignation of a Judge

In Union of India vs. Gopal Chandra Mishra, AIR 1978 S.C. 694, Justice Satish Chandra of Allahabad High Court In a letter intimated to the President of India his intention to resign his office. However, the resignation was to be effective from 1st August, 1979, after his leave were to expire on 31.7.1977. Later on, he addressed another letter dated July 15, 1977 revoking and cancelling his Intention to resign.

In the meantime he cut short his leave and resumed duties. The appellant filed a petition under Article 226 and contended that the resignation being duly communicated in accordance with the provisions of Article 217 (1) (a), was final and Irrevocable.

The Allahabad High Court allowed the petition as the resignation was complete, fined and absolute. But the Supreme Court observed that the general principle is that in absence of a legal, contractual or constitutional bar, a prospective resignation can be withdrawn at any time before it becomes effective, when it becomes effective when it operates to terminate the employment or the office tenure of the resignor.

Qualification of High Court Judges

Article 217(2) of the constitutions lays person shall not be qualified for appointment as a Judge of a High Court unless he is a citizen of India, and:

(a) Has for ten years held a judicial office in the territory of India, or

(b) Has for at least for ten years been an advocate of High Court or of two more such courts in succession. Term and Removal

A Judge of a High Court shall hold office until he attains the age of 62 years. If a question arises as to the age of a Judge of a High Court, it will be decided by the President of India after consultation with the Chief Justice of India and the decision of the President shall be final [Article 217 (3)1.

A Judge of a High Court may be removed from office by the President in the same manner and on the same grounds as a Judge of Supreme Court. The office of a Judge falls vacant by his being appointed by President to be Judge of the Supreme Court or being transferred to any other High Court. A Judge may also resign his office by writing to the President (Article 220).

Restriction after retirement:

Article 220 prohibits a person who has held the office of a permanent Judge of a High Court to plead, from acting or pleading in any court or before any authority in India except the Supreme Court and the other High Courts.

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