Seventy-four civil judges in Gujarat have moved the high court challenging the non-consideration of their period of service as ad-hoc judges for the purpose of seniority, pay scale and other benefits.
The Gujarat High Court has issue notice to the state government and the Registrar General of the High Court itself on their petition.
The civil judges – from the 2011 and 2012 batch-- have petitioned against the inaction on part of the state government and the high court, whereby the services rendered by them pursuant to their initial appointment as ad-hoc civil judges till the date of their regularization is not treated as continuous service for all purposes, including for the purpose for seniority, leave, pay and other consequential benefits.
The petitioners had been appointed as ad-hoc civil judges pursuant to two advertisements issued by the high court in 2011 and 2012.
One of the advertisement was issued on July 4, 2011 for recruitment to the post of Civil Judges, whereby applications were invited from the eligible candidates for filling up 506 vacancies (137 Regular + 369 Ad-hoc) in the cadre of Civil Judges.
Subsequently, the high court issued another advertisement on April 27, 2012 inviting applications for filling up 320 vacancies (33 Regular + 287 Ad-hoc) in the cadre of Civil Judges.
The petitioners sent online applications pursuant to these advertisements and went through the “rigorous regular recruitment process” consisting of the preliminary examination, main examination and oral interview.
The petitioners state that “pursuant to their selection for appointment on the said post, they were initially appointed on an ad-hoc basis”.
It is to be noted that of the 74 petitioners, 54 belong to 2013 batch and rest belong to the 2012 batch.
The petition said since the day of the appointment, the petitioners have been “discharging their services sincerely, honestly and with utmost dedication”.
The high court then regularized the services of 58 ad-hoc civil judges on January 29, 2015 in the order of their seniority and appointed them as regular civil judges in July, 2015. Thereafter, services of all the petitioners were regularized.
The petition said: “In spite of the fact that the petitioners were appointed pursuant to the regular selection process undertaken by the respondent authorities, upon their regularization in service, the earlier services rendered by them as Ad-hoc Civil Judges is not taken into consideration by the respondent authorities for the purpose of seniority, pay, leave and other consequential benefits”.
“Under these circumstances, a detailed representation to respondent No. 2 (high court) was made on 18.4.2017, whereby inter-alia it was requested to reckon the services of the petitioners from the respective dates of their initial appointment as Ad-hoc Civil Judges instead of reckoning their services from the date of their regular appointment as Regular Civil Judges, for all purposes including for the purpose of seniority, pay fixation and promotion”.
The petitioners went on to add that instead of responding to their representation, the high court in February, 2018 published a list of civil judges who are under consideration for promotion as senior civil Judges and all the names under consideration are of the regular appointees who were appointed along with ad-hoc judges in 2012 but the ad-hoc judges have not been considered for promotion.
The petition said their service is governed by the Gujarat State Judicial Service Rules, 2005 which defines ‘Service’ as State Judicial Service and makes no distinction between service as ‘ad-hoc’ service or ‘regular’ service.
The petitioners also cited the example of ad-hoc medical officers (Ayurved) which is a Class-II post under the purview of Gujarat Public Service Commission and way back in 1999 while considering their case for regularization in service, the state government had regularized them from the date of their initial appointment on ad-hoc basis and not from the date when their services were regularized.