At least 30 former employees of Gujarat High Court, who were sacked recently by court administration, have moved a petition challenging their removal. These employees were recruited by Acting Chief Justice V M Sahai (retired) using special power, but a committee of judges found that the recruitment was done without following procedures.
The petition came up for hearing before the single bench of Justice Sonia Gokani, who adjourned the matter till Monday. The petitioners had not served the copy of the petitions to the respondent Registrar General of the High Court. The petitioners’ lawyer requested time till Monday for providing advance copy to the the standing counsel for Registrar General. Besides, three other petitions have been filed by the sacked employees for becoming parties in the case.
These employees belonged to class-III and class-IV grade, such as peons and clerks, whose services were on a temporary basis. Earlier, in September, a total of 94 employees were issued show-cause notices. Following the notices, 11 resigned, five of them were granted relief on compensatory ground.
After Justice Sahai retired the Acting Chief Justice Jayant Patel ordered an inquiry into the recruitment to a committee comprises judges. The committee found that the appointments were made “without using public advertisement” and “no selection procedure was undertaken”.
It was held that “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.”
Justice Sahai retired on August 13. But two days before the retirement, he stirred a controversy after he issued notices to 27 sitting and retired judges of High Court on a suo motu PIL praying cancellation of allotment of lands to judges. During the hearing on the PIL, the alleged scam in recruitment of 94 employees had come to fore for the first time.