Seniority of Fast Track Court Judges

A 3-judge bench of the Supreme Court consisting of Justice Sharad Bobde, Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice Bhushan Gavai, has through its judgment in the case – Kum C. Yamini v. The State of Andhra Pradesh & Another, delivered on August 14, 2019, rejected the claim of Fast Track Court (FTC) ad hoc District Judges for grant of seniority from the date of their initial appointment as FTC Judges and other reliefs.

Still, by way of consolation to the appellants and all others, who are similarly placed, the Apex-Court has directed that they be given benefit of counting their service rendered as Fast Track Judges, for the purpose of pensionary and other retiral benefits.

Out of the 4 civil appeals filed by similar grievance , the one filed by Kum Yamini who voiced her grievance against dismissal of her writ petition by the Hyderabad High Court for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh on April 17, 2017.

In her writ petition, she questioned paragraphs 5 and 6 of G.O.Ms. No. 68 of July 2, 2013 of Law Department as unconstitutional and illegal. 

Yamini was appointed as an ad hoc District Judge in the year 2003. She was practising as an advocate at the relevant time, and the appointment was made pursuant to selections made for appointment to the post of ad hoc District Judges. She joined duty on October 25, 2003. On May 28, 2004, the respondent-High Court issued notification, inviting applications for regular appointments to the posts of District & Sessions Judges in the A.P. Higher Judicial Service.

A set of ad hoc District Judges appointed to the Fast Track Courts filed WP 11273 of 2004 questioning such notification. Through that petition, all the selected ad hoc District Judges, who were selected to preside over the Fast Track Courts, prayed for absorption against regular vacancies, The writ petition was dismissed by the HC by an order of July 13, 2004. 

Aggrieved by this judgment, a special leave petition was filed by these ad hoc DJs. While granting leave, the Supreme Court, by interim direction on March 9, 2006 in the civil appeal 1276/2005, has observed that any appointments that would be made in regular selections, will be subject to the result of the civil appeal. Subsequently, this civil appeal was disposed of along with a batch of similar cases on April 19, 2012 and reported as Brij Mohan Lal (2) v. Union of India & Others- (2012) 6 SCC 502.

While considering the validity of notification of May 28, 2004, which was issued for making appointments to the posts of District & Sessions Judges and the claim of absorption made by ad hoc District Judges, who are appointed to preside over Fast Track Courts, the Apex-Court has observed in the paragraph 175 of the said judgment as under: 

"175. The petitioners from the State of Andhra Pradesh have also prayed for identical relief claiming that the advertisement dated 28-5-2004 issued for filling up the vacancies in the regular cadre should be quashed and not processed any further and the petitioners instead should be absorbed against those vacancies. In view of the above discussion, we find no merit even in these submissions."

In the said judgment, while considering appellants claim for absorption in the regular cadre, while declining to grant the relief of absorption, certain directions were issued as contained in paragraph 207.9.

In compliance with the directions issued in the said judgment, the respondent – HC issued notification of August 13, 2012, inviting applications, to fill up the posts of DJs in regular cadre from the working/ former ad hoc Fast Track Court District Judges. All the appellants herein who responded to that notification were selected and appointed by the Government to the posts of regular District Judges (Entry Level) on July 2, 2013.

In the paragraphs of 5 and 6 of the appointment orders given to them, the Govt. Has made it clear that they would be on probation for two years from the date of joining duty as decided by the A.P.HC. Further, these ad hoc Judges are not entitled to claim seniority from the date of initial appointment.

The petitioner-Yamini, who appeared in person mainly contended that when she was appointed to the very same post of District Judge in the year 2003 by following the procedure as applicable to the regular appointments and when the appellant was selected and appointed pursuant to the notification issued on July 2, 2013,there was no reason or justification for denying her seniority in the cadre of District Judges from initial date of appointment in the year 2003.

The Supreme Court has pointed out that the claim of seniority will depend upon several factors, nature of appointment, rules as per which the appointments are made and when appointments are made, were such appointments to the cadre posts or not etc. When the appellants were not appointed to any regular posts in the A.P. Judicial service, they cannot claim seniority based on their ad hoc appointments to preside over Fast Track Courts. 

The apex-Court has reminded that in clear terms, while considering A.P. State Higher Judicial Service Special Rules for Ad Hoc Appointments, 2001, in the decision of the case, V. Venkata Prasad & Others v. High Court of Andhra Pradesh & Others – (2016) 11 SCC 656 , it (the Supreme Court) has held that such appointments in respect of Fast Track Courts (FTCs) are ad hoc in nature and no right accrues to such appointees. This view clearly supports the view of the HC and the other respondent.

In paragraph 25 of the said judgment, the SC has observed as under:

"25. From the aforesaid two authorities, it is quite clear that the appointments in respect of Fast Track Courts are ad hoc in nature and no right is to accrue to such recruits promoted/posted on ad hoc basis from the lower judiciary for regular promotion on the basis of such appointment. It has been categorically stated that FTC Judges were appointed under a separate set of rules than the rules governing the regular appointment in the State Higher Judicial Services.”

The Supreme Court has concurred with the view taken by its 2-Judge Bench and disposed of these civil appeals with certain directions and observations as mentioned above.

 

R.S.Agrawal 
on 09 September 2019
Published in Others
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