The wheel of fortune put Rajbir Singh’s career on the fast lane, elevating him from a driver to the protocol officer of the chief justice of Punjab and Haryana high court. Seven years on, his luck has come unstuck.
A single-judge bench of the high court on Wednesday set aside Singh’s promotions – result of at least 12 chief justices giving him ‘A+ outstanding’ grade in his annual confidential reports between 2005 and 2015. He has now been ordered to return to his position of senior assistant.
Singh was given out of turn promotion in 2010 as senior assistant and later to superintendent grade-II (deputy superintendent) in July, 2014 and designated as protocol officer to the chief justice.
The 2010 promotion was made by then chief justice Mukul Mudgal (now retired) and the subsequent promotion by then chief justice and now Supreme Court judge, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, days before his transfer to the Madras high court.
The high court administration defended the promotion of Singh and said the chief justice had the power to appoint a person in any post in the high court, as per requirement.
“Of this requirement, the chief justice is the best judge,” the court administration told the bench.
The petitioner’s counsels, senior advocate Rajiv Atma Ram and Abhishek Arora, said the bench has set aside the promotions and directed the high court administration to fill up the vacant post from among eligible persons.
Singh’s promotions were challenged by 18 high court senior assistants whom he had superseded.
They had sought directions to promote them from the date he was promoted. They had also argued that service rules do not permit ‘promotion’ from the post of driver to the post of senior assistant and the highest position he could have got was of a supervisor to the drivers.