The Supreme Court will hear a plea on May 8 challenging the promotion of 68 lower judicial officers in Gujarat, including Chief Judicial Magistrate Harish Hasmukhbhai Varma, who had convicted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case.
Two senior civil judge cadre officers, Ravikumar Maheta and Sachin Prataprai Mehta, are challenging the selection of these officers to the higher cadre of district judges, claiming that the promotion disregards the “merit-cum-seniority principle”.
The Gujarat government and the Registrar General of the Gujarat High Court have been issued notices regarding the plea. The top court was critical of the promotion order, which was issued on April 18, 2023, despite the pending case, and has asked for an explanation from the state government. The promotions are believed to have been made based on seniority-cum-merit instead of the merit-cum-seniority principle, as outlined in the recruitment rules.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had asked the Registrar General of the Gujarat High Court to provide information on whether promotions to the post of district judge were based on seniority-cum-merit or merit-cum-seniority.
The court issued notices on April 13 on the plea of two judicial officers, who argued that the post of district judge should be filled according to recruitment rules that require a 65 percent reservation based on the principle of merit-cum-seniority and passing a suitability test.