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District judge not barred from being made Union law secy or law secy of state: Govt

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NEW DELHI: A district judge can be appointed as the Union law secretary or a law secretary in a state, the Centre said in Rajya Sabha, asserting that the official while holding the charge has no judicial duties to perform.

In a written reply, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said the post of law secretary is an ex cadre post and is not governed by Indian Legal Service Rules.

“A district judge is not barred from being appointed as secretary in the Department of Legal Affairs or law secretary in state governments. The officer while functioning as law secretary, has no judicial duties to perform which would militate against the principles of separation of powers,” he said.

Secretary Legal Affairs in the Ministry of Law is also called the law secretary. The Legislative Department and Department of Justice in the ministry are headed by separate secretaries.

He was asked whether law secretary of states and the law secretary of the Union government are appointed from among the district judges, and would it not militate against the principles of separation of powers of the Executive from the Judiciary.

In a first in February this year, a Union law secretary was appointed as a judge of a high court. Union Law Secretary Anoop Kumar Mendiratta was elevated as a judge of the Delhi High Court.

Mendiratta was a judicial officer in Delhi when he was made the law secretary in October 2019. Even that was a first when a serving district and sessions judge was made the Union law secretary.

Responding to a question on whether a commission will be appointed for rationalisation of Indian Legal Services and for the examination of creation of Indian Judicial Service, Rijiju said the Department of Legal Affairs, being the Cadre Controlling Authority of Indian Legal Service, reviews its service rules periodically in consultation with stakeholders, Department of Personnel and Training and the Union Public Service Commission. “Thus, appointment of a separate commission is not required for rationalisation of Indian Legal Services,” he said. (PTI)

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