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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

HC sets aside 10-yr-old order, directs Punjab to reinstate judicial officer dispensed over her ‘simple language’

It was submitted that in 2008, 21 posts of ASJ under the Punjab Superior Judicial Service against quota of direct recruitment were advertised.

Written by Jagpreet Singh Sandhu | Chandigarh |
February 27, 2021 10:22:37 am
HC sets aside 10-yr-old order, directs Punjab to reinstate judicial officer dispensed over her ‘simple language’The division bench after hearing the matter, said that the petitioner was meritorious in written examination also and had a better ACR. (Express Photo)

THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court has set aside a decade-old order whereby a former additional district and sessions judge’s services as member of the Punjab Superior Judicial Service were dispensed by the Punjab government on the HC’s recommendation.

The division bench of Justices Jitendra Chauhan and Girish Agnihotri also ordered the State and other respondents to reinstate the petitioner within six weeks, with all consequential benefits.

The petitioner, ex-additional district and sessions judge (ASJ), Parveen Bali, through her counsel, advocates Puneet Bali and Kannu Sharma, had contended that in 1999, she had taken the Punjab Civil Service (Judicial Branch) examination, and while reappearing, secured 8th position in written exams in general category and 10th position in general category after viva voce.

It was submitted that in 2008, 21 posts of ASJ under the Punjab Superior Judicial Service against quota of direct recruitment were advertised. In this selection process also, by securing 461 marks in the written examination and 125.6 marks in viva voce, the petitioner ranked fifth in the overall combined merit list.

Accordingly, on November 28, 2008, the petitioner was offered appointment as ASJ, and joined as ASJ under the orders of the competent authority at Muktsar Sahib sub-division of Faridkot district on December 10, 2008, which was formed as new sessions division on December 23, 2009, and Muktsar Sahib sessions court was created out of Faridkot district court on January 8, 2010, and the sessions courts at Muktsar Sahib started functioning with effect from January 16, 2010.

Referring to the letter dated October 28, 2010, the counsel of the petitioner contended that the petitioner was conveyed the inspection remarks — for the period April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010, and against column-1 ‘quality of work…and quality of judgment’ — of ‘satisfactory’, and in comparison to previous ACR of 3 months qua this year against column-3 inter alia, ‘capacity of management etc.’, it has been recorded as ‘satisfactory’.

It was submitted that as per records, the petitioner, from April 2010 to November 2010, has earned/claimed more than 75 units per month, except the month of June, when the court has vacation. From November 2010 to January 2011, she has earned/claimed more than 100 units per month and even for February with 17 working days she has earned more than 50 units. 

It was further submitted that, the petitioner was conveyed inspection remarks for the year 2010-2011, wherein, in column-4 against the heading ‘inter personal relationship and team work’, it has been inter alia, recorded as “….however, the Bar and the Bench speak good of her”.

It has also been recorded that “at the time of inspection, the officer was not holding the court since her work was withdrawn with effect from February 22, 2011”. Against column-7 ‘integrity’, “no complaint” is mentioned. In spite of this, as per an order dated June 14, 2011, the petitioner’s services were dispensed with, on the recommendations of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Advocate Bali argued that the probationer is entitled to certain protection and that the services of the probationer cannot be terminated arbitrarily and punitively without complying with the principles of natural justice.

The respondent in the matter however argued that the primary deficiency noticed in the officer, her simple language, as per the then inspecting judge, is to be treated as demerit and ground for her dispensing with services, deserves to be rejected.  

The division bench after hearing the matter, said that the petitioner was meritorious in written examination also and had a better ACR.

“Considering all these factors, the officer ought to have been counselled, guided and deserved to have been given an opportunity to enhance her potential and performance. We also feel that at the initial stage, young officers need to be encouraged so that he or she performs his/her best and the same is utilised for the general good of the society,” said the bench.

Over the argument of the respondent regarding the language of the petitioner, the bench further said: “We feel that simplicity of the expression is an ornament of any language as the same is understood by the common man. In writing complex sentences, sometimes, the essence of the subject is lost.

The subject should be guided by simple and constructive thought and not by complicated/complex language.

That does not serve the purpose of anybody. Many of the officers in the cadre come from the country schools who do not have exposure to this foreign language. Therefore, we do not consider the same as a ground for drawing any adverse inference against the officer, rather that is the strength of any writer.”

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