According to the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of civil society organizations, not a single Adivasi judge found a place in a recent round of judicial promotions in the state. The group posted the list of promotees for the post of the additional district judge, which showed none of the 51 junior judges promoted was an Adivasi, and most belonged to dominant caste groups.
A lawyer associated with the coalition said on the condition of anonymity that Adivasis are very poorly-represented in the state judiciary. This is a serious problem in a state like Jharkhand, which was created to give Adivasis their due recognition and representation.
“The lower judiciary is a four-tier structure. Once you are appointed, you start off at the judicial magistrate or the junior division level. Then you are subsequently promoted to senior division, and then to additional district judge and eventually district judge. The current Jharkhand judiciary is such that you hardly find any adivasi judge at the senior division level and above.”
This, according to activist Elina Horo, also associated with the Mahasabha, reflects how passive the governments of Jharkhand have been in representing
Responding to the allegation, the registrar-general of the high court, Ambuj Nath said:
“All the promotions were done keeping in mind the rules and regulations. All the 51 were called for interviews based on their eligibility. There are many adivasi judges at the junior level but none of them fulfilled the criteria for this round of promotions for the post of additional district judge. We went by the rules.”
Nath explained that the promotions have to be done according to the norms set by the courts. He said that the reservation policy in direct judicial appointments in Jharkhand was implemented in 2007.
“Before that there were no tribal judge at any level in the state. They were recruited after 2007. Thus, at the moment, they do not fulfil the eligibility conditions for the post of additional district judge. When they meet the eligibility conditions in subsequent years, they too will be promoted,” Nath told The Wire.
However, the Adivasi rights activists feel that the lack of representation can’t be reduced to a legal and administrative problem.
“The government, courts have to be sensitive enough to realise that there is a serious under-representation of adivasis judges in the judiciary. Because of this lack of Adivasi judges, you see that there is a total lack of sympathy for the demands raised by adivasi groups in courts. Lack of Adivasi representations means a violation of constitutional values of justice and equality,” Horo said.