Justice PB Bajanthri of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday set aside the out-of-turn promotion granted to Rajbir, who is functioning as protocol officer to the Chief Justice Shivax Jal Vazifdar. The decision came from Justice Bajanthri while allowing a petition moved by Avtar Singh Kalra and 17 other senior assistants of the High Court alleging “undue favour” by two former Chief Justices Mukul Mudgal and Sanjay Kishan Kaul of “distribution of largesse” by two out-of-turn promotions to their driver Rajbir up to the post of Superintendent Grade-II (designated as protocol officer) by “relaxing rules” and superseding his 18 seniors.
The petitioners have submitted that it was on December 20, 2010, during the tenure of then Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal (now retired), that Rajbir was allegedly given out-of-turn promotion from driver to senior assistant. Later, on July 22, 2014, during the tenure of then Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul (now Supreme Court judge), Rajbir was promoted as Superintendent Grade-II by relaxing all the rules.
The petitioners had submitted that Rajbir joined as driver in the High Court on March 18, 1991. In the year 1996, he was attached with then Justice NK Kapoor and in 1999 with then Justice GS Singhvi. In February 2005, Rajbir was attached with the then Chief Justice. It was on December 20, 2010, during the tenure of then Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal (now retired), that Rajbir was given out-of-turn promotion from driver to senior assistant. He was then designated as assistant protocol officer and was posted in the Chief Justice’s secretariat. Later he was designated as protocol officer.
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.
“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 largesse by the then Chief Justice,” reads the petition.
The petition was filed in the High Court on September 11, 2015, but the High Court administrative wing as well as Rajbir had taken almost a year to file their replies to the petition defending the promotions on the ground that it was the discretion of the Chief Justice to appoint a person on any post.