The Gujarat High Court Wednesday set aside the termination of 12 ad-hoc fast track court judges and asked the authorities to consider their reinstatement. A plea filed by 25 other judges for reinstatement was rejected.
A division bench of Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice Anant Dave said the 12 judges have been assessed to be ‘good’ or ‘very good’ in their knowledge of law and procedures, capacity to work, quality of judgments, integrity and reputation.
The court said there were no adverse observations made by the high court or the apex court against quality of judgments of either of the 12 judicial officers.
The court noted that the advocate general appearing on behalf of the high court could not justify as to why they were terminated on the grounds of “non-suitability”.
The high court, using its administrative power, in six orders passed between 2006 and 2009 ordered dismissal of 66 ad hoc fast track court judges in the state. More than 30 applications were filed in the high court challenging its order.
The court noted that an administrative decision should not be interfered with unless it is illogical or suffers from procedural impropriety or is shocking to the conscience of the court, as held by the Supreme Court.
“But from the record of the aforesaid 12 officers, as, prima facie, it appears that the decision on the administrative side of the court is not based on record and prima facie illogical, we are of the view that their cases require reconsideration,” the court said.
“We accordingly set aside the order of termination so far as it relates to the aforesaid 12 officers and remit their case to the administrative side of the high court for reconsideration of their case for extension of their service,” the court said.
“The administrative side of the high court is expected to consider the matter at an early date and must consider prior to fresh appointment or promotion to the post of fast track court ad hoc additional district judges,” the court ordered.
It, however, dismissed 21 petitions of the remaining 25 judges, who were dismissed by the high court on grounds of delay.
The judgements came in relation with 37 of the 66 dismissed judges. The others did not challenge the decision.
The court observed that in the case of all the 25 judges, knowledge of law was found to be poor or average, quality of judgment was also average, their reputations were average (in some cases doubtful) and overall grading was also average.