A single judge bench of Punjab and Haryana high court has held that the then chief justice of the high court and present Supreme Court judge, Sanjay Kishan Kaul “violated” right to equality in promoting Rajbir Singh, protocol officer with chief justice, who had risen fast from a driver to this position.
Singh, who was recruited as driver in 1991, remained associated with nearly a dozen of chief justices since 2005, initially as driver, and was appointed as senior assistant in 2010 by the then chief justice Mukul Mudgal (now retired) and in July 2014 promoted as superintendent grade-II (deputy superintendent) and designated as protocol officer to the chief justice by Kaul, days before his transfer to Madras high court.
With 2014 ‘out of turn’ promotion, Singh had superseded 171 senior assistants of high court of which 18 petitioned on judicial side challenging the decision. The single judge bench of justice PB Bajanthri has now reversed back the decision of Kaul, and ordered that Singh be reverted to the post of senior assistant.
Justice Bajanthri in a judgment released on Friday held that decision of justice Kaul was “a clear violation” of articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution (right to equality).
Justice Bajanthri in his order said that an employee ought not to be given preferential treatment merely because he or she is attached to the chief justice. It will be unfair to other employees.
HC bench stated that as per Supreme Court judgments, the chief justice can invoke his powers after satisfaction of undue hardship and just and equitable manner in a case. But in the case in hand, “the principle of no undue hardship and also just and equitable manner is not at all attracted”. Further he took note of SC judgment that undue benefit should not be given to the employees on the eve of chief justice's retirement.
“The decision of the deciding authority can be quashed if it has abused its jurisdiction. It can be said to have abused its jurisdiction when it exercises power for an improper purpose, or an extraneous consideration, or in bad faith, or leave out relevant consideration,” the HC bench recorded while referring to a Supreme Court judgment and pointing out that in the present case, there was no consideration of laid down rules and constitutional provisions.