T FENN WALTER Vs. UNION OF INDIA
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: GUJARAT)
UNION OF INDIA
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K. G. Balakrishnan, J. -
(2.)A group of advocates practicing in the High Court of Madras filed a writ petition alleging that a sitting Judge of that High Court ceased to be a Judge as he was appointed as President of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Pondicherry, (for short 'the State Commission') and prayed for an appropriate writ or other directions. The writ petition was dismissed by a Division Bench of the Madras High Court and aggrieved by the same, the present appeal is filed.
(3.)The post of the President of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission at Pondicherry was being manned by a retired High Court Judge. After the completion of his term of office, nobody else was willing to be considered for appointment as President of the State Commission. Pondicherry being a small Union Territory with limited financial resources could not afford to have a full-time President for the State Commission. The post was lying vacant for a considerable period. The correspondence produced in this case would show that a Judge of the Madras High Court, who was the administrative Judge for Pondicherry, was requested by the then Chief Justice of the High Court to take up the post of President of the State Commission at Pondicherry. As the Hon'ble Judge was willing to be the President of the State Commission, Pondicherry, his name was recommended by the Chief Justice and, the High Court, by D.O. letter dated 25-11-1998, informed the Pondicherry Govt. to initiate the process of appointment. It was pointed out that Section 2(1)(c)(i) of the High Court Judges (Conditions of Service) Act, 1954 necessitates the concurrence of the President of India in the appointment of a sitting Judge of the High Court. The Govt. of Pondicherry on 21-5-1999 issued a Notification appointing the sitting Judge of the Madras High Court as President of the State Commission. A communication also was issued from the Ministry of Law, Justice and Company Affairs, that the President of India was pleased to request the Judge to function as President under the Consumer Protection Act and that the time spent by him in the performance of the above functions would be counted as "Actual Service" within the meaning of Para 11(b)(i) of Part-D of the Second Schedule to the Constitution of India read with Section 1(1)(c)(i) of the High Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1954. While the Judge was continuing as President of the State Commission, the present writ petition was filed and the Judge resigned from the post of President of the State Commission. We are no longer concerned with the reliefs sought for in the writ petition, however, the matter is of some constitutional importance, as sitting Judge are quite often appointed to various posts and Tribunals and whether they can still discharge the duties as sitting Judges is a vexed question.
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