No Recommendation In Justice Shetty Commission To Grant Advance Increments To District Judges Possessing PG Degree: Kerala HC [Read Judgment]
"There is no recommendation to grant incentives to Civil Judges (Senior Division) or the District Judges, for having higher qualification. There is no recommendation to grant incentives to all the Judicial Officers also.”
The Kerala High Court has dismissed a plea of its former judge, holding that recommendation in Justice Shetty Commission Report to grant advance increments to candidates having Post Graduation in Law does not apply to district judges.
Considering representations made by the high court, the government, vide order dated 22.11.2013, accorded sanction to grant three advance increments to the district judges appointed by direct recruitment from the Bar and having Post Graduation in Law at the time of recruitment with prospective effect. Later in 2017, the government further extended the benefit of advance increments to all district judges directly recruited from the Bar and having Post Graduation in Law at the time of entry in service, with effect from 22.11.2013. In its communications with the high court, the government had made it clear that the district judges were not granted advance increments based on the recommendation of Justice Shetty Commission and that the said recommendation is confined to the judicial officers of Junior Division in the Judicial Service in order to attract better talents and the government had already sanctioned the benefit to all the munsiff-magistrates recruited with Post Graduation in Law from 01.07.1996 onward.
Justice AV Ramakrishna Pillai started his judicial career as a district judge on 18.08.1995, got elevated as a judge of the high court on 18.01.2012 and demitted office on 24.11.2015. He challenged these government orders and claimed that the Shetty Commission report is applicable to district judges as well. He challenged the 2017 order by the government to the extent it denies the benefit with effect from 01.07.1996 i.e., to all the district judges who were having LLM from 01.07.1996 onwards.
No Such Recommendation In Justice Shetty Commission Report
Justice PV Asha, referring to the commission report, observed that there is no recommendation therein to grant incentives to civil judges (senior division) or the district judges for having higher qualification.
"I am of the view that recommendation in paragraph 8.48 of the report is not intended to District judges. Therefore the contention that grant of 3 advance increments to the District Judges having Post Graduation in Law is a benefit arising out of the recommendation of either Justice Shetty Commission Report or that it is a benefit to be granted in implementation of the judgment in All India Judges'(3) Case : (2002)4 SCC 247 is unsustainable," the court said.
With regard to challenge against 'cut off' date, the court observed that whenever a new benefit is introduced, it is open to the government to fix a date so as to grant the benefit with effect from the date of the order or any particular date.
"Those who were already left the service as on that date, either by retirement or elevation or otherwise are left out from the class. A classification of District Judges on such ground cannot be said to be invalid or invidious or violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India," the court said while dismissing the plea.