The Punjab & Haryana High Court is seized of yet another case relating to appointments to lower judiciary.
The petition filed by one Gurkirat Singh Dhillon challenges the appointments to the post of Civil Judge (Junior Division)-cum-Judicial Magistrate for Punjab Civil Services (Judicial Branch) for 2013-14. The case was heard by a Bench of Justice Mahesh Grover and Shekher Dhawan, which issued notice in the matter. Advocate Animesh Sharma appeared for the petitioner.
The petitioner’s challenge in the case is two-fold. His first contention is based on the reservation provided for Ex-Servicemen/Lineal Descendants of Ex-Servicemen.
Applications were invited for 71 posts of Civil Judge (Junior Division)-cum-Judicial Magistrate in State of Punjab. 10 out of 71 posts were reserved for Ex-Servicemen/Lineal Descendants of Ex-Servicemen General, Punjab. The petitioner applied in the said category of Lineal Descendent of Ex-Servicemen General (Punjab).
The petitioner, along with other candidates, who qualified the written examination by obtaining more than 50% marks, were invited for viva voce. However, the petitioner was awarded low marks in his viva voce and got a combined total of 49.65%. Therefore, he could not obtain 50% marks in aggregate, in written examination and viva voce taken together, and was thus, not included in the Select List of category of Lineal Descendants of Ex-Servicemen.
It is the petitioner’s case that as per the Punjab Recruitment of Ex-Servicemen Rules of 1982, which are the parent Rules governing the recruitment of Ex-Servicemen and Lineal Descendants of Ex-Servicemen in the State of Punjab, the descendant child of the Ex-Serviceman to whom the vacancy could be given had to be dependent on the Ex-Serviceman.
“That Rule 4 (1) of the 1982 Rules envisages that reservation as above is meant for one ‘dependent child” of ex-servicemen.
Rule 4 of the 1982 Rules makes it clear that in the absence of an Ex-Serviceman, the descendant child of the Ex-Serviceman to whom the vacancy can be given must also be dependent on the Ex-Serviceman.”
Dhillon’s case is that the nine candidates who were eventually selected in the aforesaid reserved category were not eligible for the same since they were not dependent on the Ex-servicemen.
“…the selected candidates respondent Nos. 6 to 13, were at the time of their selection practicing in the different Courts as Advocates, or otherwise employed. The candidate at Serial No 6 in the merit list, Jashanpreet Kaur Gill was working as a serving PCS (EB) Officer, and the candidate at serial No 11 in the merit list, Amandeep Kaur, was working as Junior Assistant with the Chandigarh Administration. Further still, the father of Respondent No 6 was also appointed in the PCS Judicial services under the Ex-serviceman reserved category. Such Advocates can not be treated as dependents of ex-servicemen father for earning livelihood. They must be treated as gainfully employed. Thus, the very consideration of their candidature for recruitment to PCS (Judicial Branch) in the State of Punjab was erroneous and their selection and appointment as PCS (Judicial) in Punjab is liable to be set aside for this reason alone.”
Besides, Dhillon has also relied on another omission in the selection process. He has contended that as per the agenda approved by the Cabinet of Ministers, the procedure for selection required that the interview committee should have the Chairperson of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PSC).
Dhillon has contended that in the instant case, the interview was conducted by the Committee which did not have the PSC Chairman.
Dhillon has prayed for setting aside the selection of the nine candidates in the category reserved for descendants of ex-servicemen. He has also sought for re-conducting his interview by including the PSC Chairman in the interview committee.
The Court issued notice to the State of Punjab, Punjab & Haryana High Court and 63 judicial officers who were selected for the posts. The case is now likely to be heard on August 9, 2017.
There has been much debate surrounding appointments to lower judiciary in the recent times. The Supreme Court has even initiated a suo-moto PIL in this regard and has sought the response of all the States for evolving a common agency to hold selections to the subordinate judiciary across the country.