September 1, 2015 8:58:08 pm
In a significant development, the Gujarat High Court on Tuesday issued show cause notices to 94 of its employees recruited in July this year asking them to explain why their services should not be terminated. The notices state that the appointments were made “without using public advertisement” and “no selection procedure was undertaken.”
The affected employees have been given 11 days time to respond back to the administration of the court, failing which the administration would take “appropriate decision”.
These employees were hired during the time of Acting Chief Justice V M Sahai, who retired last month, provoking several questions in his last days in office during a hearing on a public interest litigation (PIL) related to land allotment of 27 sitting and retired judges of the high court.
The current Acting Chief Justice Jayant Patel was also among the 27 judges who served notice on the basis of this PIL.
Advocate General Kamal Trivedi in open court had then mentioned about the alleged irregularities in the manner in which recruitment for class-III and class-IV categories took place. This had led to heated arguments between the bar and the bench. Justice (retired) Sahai had also remarked that there are several others scams, but he didn’t want to open up a “Pandora’s box”.
One of the notices, a copy of which is with this paper, signed by Registrar General B N Karia states, that the show cause notice has been issued following the directions of a specially constituted committee comprising five judges.
The notices issued to all the 94 persons individually has cited a Supreme Court judgment stating, “even under the constitution, the power of appointment granted to the Chief Justice under Article 229 (1) is subject to Article 16 (1) which guarantees equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment…”
The notice further states, “the law can be summarised to the effect that powers under Article 229 (2) of the constitution can’t be exercised by the Chief Justice in an unfettered and arbitrary manner. Appointments should be made giving adherence to the provisions of Article 14 and 16 of the constitution and/or such rules as made by the legislative.”
When contacted Registrar General Karia confirmed the development but didn’t divulge further information. When asked that whether retired Acting Chief Justice Sahai has also been issued notice since the appointments were made during his tenure, Karia said “I can’t give my opinion and I have no knowledge.” He added that many of the cases are still pending with the special committee.
The notice says that appointments which were made without following any selection process, without considering all other eligible candidates for the post in question, it violative of Article 14 and 16 of the constitution and also against the Supreme Court judgment. The show cause notices that why the appointments should not be terminated for these reasons. The affected employees have also been asked to “disclose the source of information that particular post in the establishment of High Court was vacant and that it was likely to be filled up.”
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