New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has asked the Supreme Court Registry to submit within two weeks details of any guidelines for empanelment of law schools whose students can apply for the posts of research associates with it.
The court sought the guidelines as it did not get a desired answer from Additional Solicitor General A S Chandhiok who instead wanted to examine the matter.
"I have in fact asked the ASG (A S Chandhiok) as to whether there are in place any guidelines for empanelment. Mr Chandhiok has not been able to give a clear answer in the affirmative. He says that he will examine the matter and get back to the court on this aspect of the matter. Let a reply be filed within two weeks...," Justice Rajiv Shakdher said.
The court was hearing the plea of Phaguni Nilesh Lal, a final year law student of Army Institute of Law in Mohali, that she was refused an opportunity by the apex court registry to apply for the posts of `Law Clerks-cum-Research Assistants` for 2013-14.
The Supreme Court has been recruiting final year LL.B students as research assistants for "short term assignments".
The Registry said the letters inviting applications had been sent in December last year to national law colleges and universities which are on its "approved panel". She was denied permission to apply on the ground that her college was not empanelled, the plea, filed through lawyer Rajeev Sharma, said.
"Issue a writ...Declaring that the criteria adopted by the Supreme Court Registry of permitting students of only select institutions to apply for the posts ...Is ultra vires to the Constitution and the students of all institutions recognised by the Bar Council of India have the right to be considered for the posts," the plea said.
For employing research assistants, the high courts adopt same scheme based on merits and allow students of all law colleges to apply, while the Supreme Court has allegedly given preferences to students of some institutes only, the lawyer for the student said.
The court, which has now fixed the matter for hearing on March 19, also asked the Army Institute of Law, Mohali to file its response to the plea of the student.
The SC Registry took a plea during the hearing that such applications have to be "routed through the concerned law college" and that institution should be empanelled with it.
"In these circumstances, on an oral prayer of the learned counsel for the petitioner, Army Institute of Law, Mohali is impleaded as a party. Issue notice to the said respondent, on steps being taken in that behalf. Reply be filed within two weeks," it said.
The petition said, "It is well settled by a catena of authorities that institutional reservation is not supported by the Constitution thus the institutional preference made by the Supreme Court whereby law students/graduates of select institutions are permitted to apply ... It is contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court and is violative of Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution."