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‘Undue favour’ by two Chief Justices 11 months on, Punjab and Haryana High Court administration fails to respond

The petition before the Court is basis of documents got under the RTI.

Written by Sanjeev Verma | Chandigarh |
August 28, 2016 4:06:10 am

MORE THAN 11 months and five hearings in the case later, the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s administration has not been able to reply to allegations of “undue favour” by its two former Chief Justices of “distribution of largess” by out-of-turn promotions to their driver Rajbir to the post of superintendent grade-II (designated as protocol officer) by “relaxing rules” and superseding his seniors.

When the petition filed by Avtar Singh Kalra and 17 other senior assistants of the High Court came up for resumed hearing on August 22 for the fifth time, advocate Gaurav Chopra, appearing for the High Court administration, requested Justice Rajiv Narain Raina for some more time to file a reply. And although the High Court had on September 11 last year also issued notice to Rajbir, who still continues to be present Chief Justice Shiavax Jal Vazifdar’s protocol officer, but he is yet to file reply justifying his “out-of-turn promotion.” Justice Raina, on August 22, granted one more opportunity to both the respondents to file replies by October 19.

The petition has been filed on the basis of documents got under the RTI Act with regard to Rajbir’s out of turn promotions bestowed by former Chief Justices Mukul Mudgal (now retired) and Sanjay Kishan Kaul (now Chief Justice of Madras High Court). The petitioners have sought quashing of Rajbir’s promotion orders and summoning record of the case.

As per records, Rajbir was promoted as superintendent grade-II on July 22, 2014, just three days before the then Chief Justice Kaul left his charge on July 25, 2014, to take over as Chief Justice of the Madras High Court. The petitioners have alleged that he has been promoted by ignoring the seniority of 18 petitioner senior assistants. Petitioners have also sought directions to promote them from the date Rajbir has been promoted as he was much below to the petitioners at serial number 172 in the seniority list.

It has been submitted that Rajbir joined as driver in the High Court on March 18, 1991. It was on December 20, 2010, during the tenure of then Chief Justice Mudgal, that Rajbir was allegedly given an “out of turn promotion” to senior assistant. He was then designated as assistant protocol officer and was posted in the Chief Justice’s secretariat.

The petition reads, “on account of his posting with the then Chief Justice, the private respondent (Rajbir) got undue favour by being appointed as senior assistant even in the face of Rule 16 of the 1973 Rules, which does not permit promotion from the post of driver to the post of senior assistant by relaxing rule.” It has been submitted that the promotion from the post of driver is to that of supervisor to the drivers as per Rule 20 of the 1973 Rules.

The petitioners have submitted that thereafter on April 8, 2012, the nomenclature of the post of assistant protocol officer held by Rajbir was changed to protocol officer. It has been added that on July 22, 2014, during the tenure of then Chief Justice Kaul, Rajbir was promoted as superintendent grade-II by relaxing all the rules.

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“It is well settled that the Chief Justice cannot act like a king to distribute benefits to employees” and “further it (promotion) has been given to Rajbir not on account of any hardship but by way of distribution of largess by the then Chief Justice,” reads the petition.

The petitioners have further contended, “similar benefits by giving out of turn promotions have been conferred on various employees. Representations were filed claiming the same relief as has been wrongly granted.”

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