Friday, March 21, 2008

Judge M S. Rohilla gets justice after 11 years

Judge M S. Rohilla gets justice after 11 years

New Delhi, June 4
Justice can be delayed but not denied. And this time it was the turn of a Judge to realize the bitter truth of the old adage, as it is normally the common man who is at the receiving end. Eleven years after he was demoted to a lower cadre, a Full Bench of the Delhi High Court has ordered that Judge M. S. Rohilla shall be deemed to have continued as a member of the Delhi Higher Judicial Service till the date he was compulsorily retired from service on September 28, 2001.

The Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Vijender Jain, A K Sikri and B N Chaturvedi also ordered that Rohilla shall be entitled to all the financial and pensionary benefits to which he may be entitled pursuant to the order.

An erstwhile officer of the Delhi Judicial Service, Rohilla, who was holding the rank of an Additional District Judge, was demoted to the rank of a civil judge by an administrative order of the High Court on February 2, 1995. Ironically, Rohilla's representation challenging his demotion was rejected by a Full Court on September 23, 1995.

Aggrieved by the rejection, Rohilla filed a fresh petition before a two-member bench which referred the matter to a full bench.

In his petition, Rohilla argued that his promotion to the Delhi High Judicial Service on November 29, 1989, was a regular promotion against a substantive vacancy and, therefore, he could not have been reverted back to the Delhi judicial service by a mere administrative order of the High Court. His contention was that though the High Court was the appointing authority at the same time it cannot demote him by an administrative order as any such order could be passed only by the Governor of the State.

Upholding Rohilla's contention the Bench while interpreting the provisions of Article 233 read with Article 235 maintained that any disciplinary action in the form of demotion, termination or removal by High Court is subject only to the approval of the Governor which in the present case was not observed.

Moreover, the Bench noted that the Judge was not given any opportunity of hearing before reduction in his rank and as such the order is vitiated by not observing the principles of natural justice and hence ordered that Rohilla shall be deemed to have continued as a Member of the Delhi Judicial Service till he was compulsorily retired on September 2001. — PTI

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