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Writ over DJA director appointment of Mrinal Satish infructuous, disposed post return to NLU-D

DJA appointments challenge disposed of
DJA appointments challenge disposed of

The Delhi high court has disposed of a 2019 writ petition challenging the appointment of NLU Delhi Prof Mrinal Satish as chairperson of the Delhi Judicial Academy (DJA), after Satish left and rejoined NLU Delhi in order to teach again.

The Hindu had first reported the court’s dismissal yesterday.

While the high court has not yet uploaded its final order in WP(C) 3700 / 2019, it is understood to have been a very short hearing at which current chief justice Justice C Hari Shankar declared the petition as now infructuous, considering Satish’s departure.

The petition by an NGO had claimed that Satish did not have 30 years of teaching experience or 10 years of professorship experience, alleging that this was required in the post.

However, as we had reported at the time, the Delhi high court chief justice has wide powers under its internal rules to relax that requirement “subject to such conditions as he may consider necessary”:

Powers of CJ under DJA rules to relax any rules
Powers of CJ under DJA rules to relax any rules

It seems like it would have been fairly easy for the Delhi high court to show evidence of such exercise of discretion, so it does seem like a bit of a missed opportunity in clearing this up, particularly in light of several vice chancellorship appointments having similarly-worded experience requirements.

On the other hand, it’s perhaps understandable why the current chief did not want to open the potential jurisprudential can of worms that can be discretionary powers and their limits.

The previous chief justice Rajendra Menon, who had perhaps exercised such discretion to relax the rules, had recused himself in the matter when it was first listed.

Menon, like Satish, has since also moved on from his position and retired from the Delhi high court, while the writ petition had bounced through at least eight mostly-adjourned court dates and orders since then.

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