16 May 2023 2:06 PM GMT
The Gujarat judicial officers whose promotion as District Judges in the State of Gujarat was stayed last week approached the Supreme Court seeking for an early listing of their matter after the High Court of Gujarat reversed their promotions. Out of the 68 judicial officers who were to be promoted as District judges, the High Court ordered the reversal of 40 officers. In light of the...
The Gujarat judicial officers whose promotion as District Judges in the State of Gujarat was stayed last week approached the Supreme Court seeking for an early listing of their matter after the High Court of Gujarat reversed their promotions. Out of the 68 judicial officers who were to be promoted as District judges, the High Court ordered the reversal of 40 officers. In light of the retirement of Justice MR Shah, who was on the bench that had stayed the promotion of the officers, the Supreme Court agreed to reassign the matter to a new bench post summer vacations. The matter was mentioned by Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora before a bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha, and Justice JB Pardiwala.
On May 12, a bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar had stayed the recommendation made by the Gujarat High Court for the promotion of the judicial officers and the consequent notification issued by the Government to implement on the ground that the list was not prepared on the merit-cum-seniority basis. The bench however clarified that the stay order will not impact the promotions of those who are figuring in the merit list in 1 to 68 positions. The bench also listed the matter for further hearing on August 8, 2023. Following the Supreme Court order, the Gujarat High Court issued a notification yesterday, reverting 40 judicial officers to the previous posts.
Today, Senior Advocate Arora, appearing for the judicial officers whose promotions were affected, mentioned the matter before Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud seeking urgent listing. r
"Yesterday, the Gujarat High Court has passed an order for all these officers who had got the notice and who had finished their training to be now reverted back..."
Seeking for a clarification, Justice JB Pardiwala said–
"So out of 68 officers who were promoted, we got to know that 40 had been reverted. 28 are still in the merit list."
CJI DY Chandrachud told Arora that if ultimately the judicial officers show that they have a case, the situation can be reversed and their service benefits can be restored.
At this juncture, Senior Advocate Arora highlighted the humiliation faced by the parties owing to the reversal of their promotions. She said–
"It has also about huge amount of humiliation, my lords."
She added that the same promotion format was being followed in other States and that it was per the directions in the Malik Mazhar Sultan matter. She said–
"States in India are following the same method. At least six states in India submitted this and they are all following the rules. As far as Uttar Pradesh is concerned, people identical are treated like ours..."
CJI DY Chandrachud responded–
"That's on the merits of the case...I'll have to reassign the matter because Justice Shah has retired." CJI agreed to consider listing the matter in July.
A plea was filed before the apex court challenging the recommendations made by the Gujarat government for the promotion of district judges in the state. According to the petitioners – both unsuccessful candidates – the appointments had been made by a March notification on the basis of the seniority-cum-merit principle, in contravention to the recruitment rules, which specified that district judge posts would be filled up by reserving 65 per cent of seats on merit-cum-seniority basis and on the candidates passing a suitability test.
Last month, on the strength of the petitioners’ contentions, the apex court issued notice to the Gujarat High Court as well as the state government. Interestingly, before the bench issued notice, the high court had recommended the promotion of the concerned district judges, and the file was pending before the Gujarat government at the time notice was issued. However, less than a week after this, the state government notified the promotions of the judges recommended by the high court.
Last week, the Supreme Court stayed the promotion of judicial officers as District Judges in the State of Gujarat, taking exception to the State Government notifying the promotions while the legality of the promotions was a sub-judice issue before the Court.