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Seniority of incumbent Judicial Officer selected to Higher judiciary is governed by merit-list in examination: SC

The SC on April 29, 2020 {Dinesh Kumar Gupta and others v. High Court of Judicature of Rajasthan others} held that the law on the point is now well settled that the service rendered by Judicial Officers as Fast Track Court Judges on ad-hoc basis cannot be taken into account while reckoning seniority after such Judicial Officers were granted promotion on substantive basis and that their seniority has to be reckoned only from the date of their substantive appointment to the cadre of District Judge. It was held that 1969 Rules do not in any way confer any right which would be inconsistent with the law so laid down by the Court.

The SC Bench, comprising of Justice U U Lalit & Justice Vineet Saran, considered the issue i.e. whether the judicial officers promoted on ad-hoc basis as Additional District and Sessions Judges to man the Fast Track Courts in the State and who were substantively appointed to the Cadre of the District Judge, are entitled to seniority from the date of their initial ad-hoc promotion? It was held by the SC that the reckonable date has to be the date when substantive appointment is made and not from the date of the initial ad-hoc appointment or promotion. 

The further question that arose before the SC was whether the inter se placement of candidates selected to the Cadre of District Judge in the State through Limited Competitive Examination, in the seniority list must be based on their merit in said examination or should it be based on their initial seniority in the erstwhile cadre? It was held that the inter se placement of the candidates selected through 'Limited Competitive Examination' must be based on merit and not on the basis of the seniority in the erstwhile cadre. 

In present case, inter alia, Writ Petition has been filed by Rajasthan Judicial Service Officers Association seeking benefit of ad-hoc/officiating service put in by Promotees who were promoted on ad-hoc basis as Fast Track Court Judges. The same was denied, and the appeal was disposed of by the SC.

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