On the day he retired as Registrar General of the Gujarat High Court, P R Patel, who as a judge adjudicated the 2002 Godhra train burning case and awarded death penalty to 11 convicts in March 2011, was appointed Special Officer (Litigation) by the Gujarat government.
Patel assumed charge of his new post with the Law Department of the state government from January 1. He had retired as Registrar General of the High Court in June 2017 but was re-employed on the post two times until December 31, 2018.
A December 31 Law Department order on Patel’s appointment stated: “To decrease the pendency of cases against Gujarat government in Gujarat High Court and Supreme Court and for expeditious disposal of cases, P R Patel, who was discharging his duties as Registrar General (retired), is getting post-retirement appointment as ‘Special Officer’ (Litigation) on contract basis against the vacant post of Joint Secretary (Judiciary) in Law Department.”
“As salary, P R Patel will be paid the amount that he was getting at the time of retirement while deducting his pension from it as Pay-Minus-Pension,” it stated.
According to the order, Patel’s appointment is on a one year contract-basis. A clause on the duties to be discharged by Patel stated that he will also have to do “any other responsibility” assigned by the government.
Reached for comment, Patel told The Indian Express: “I do not have to take any judicial decision (in the latest posting). I mainly have to do supervision and monitoring of the cases (in which State of Gujarat is a party) to ensure its expeditious adjudication. And even if some case which I had adjudicated comes before me for judicial opinion, I can always deny to give an opinion. Judicial officers do that commonly.”
Patel said his new work mainly consists of coordinating litigations of various departments of the Gujarat government with the higher judiciary.
From Petlad in Anand district of central Gujarat, Patel (62) joined the judicial service in 1982 as a civil judge. During his over 35-year judicial service, he served as principal judge in different districts like Vadodara, Jamnagar, Rajkot, Panchmahals and Ahmedabad (Rural).
Law Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama could not be reached for comments on Patel’s appointment.