FTC judges can't claim seniority like other jud officers: SC

FTC judges can't claim seniority like other jud officers: SC

FTC judges can't claim seniority like other jud officers: SC

Judicial officers, appointed as presiding officers of Fast Track Courts (FTCs), cannot claim the right to regular promotion like directly recruited judges, as their appointments are ad hoc in nature, the Supreme Court has held.

The apex court said this while dismissing an appeal filed by some judicial officers, who were appointed by promotion or transfer from civil judges to grade-II District and Sessions Judges, challenging a Andhra Pradesh High Court's order in this regard.

The high court had dismissed their petition against the seniority list of judges, saying that FTC judges cannot be conferred the benefit of seniority on the basis of their continuous length of service.

Referring to two Supreme Court judgements, a bench of justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh said "it is quite clear that the appointments in respect of Fast Track Courts are ad hoc in nature and no right is to accrue to such recruits promoted/posted on ad hoc basis from the lower judiciary for the regular promotion on the basis of such appointment".

"It has been categorically stated that FTC judges were appointed under a separate set of rules than the rules governing the regular appointment in the State Higher Judicial Services," the bench noted in its order.

The court said the petitioners were promoted because of the introduction of the FTC scheme.

"They were the beneficiaries of a scheme. While continuing in the post under the scheme, the regular posts in the cadre fell vacant and they were regularised. But prior to that, the respondents were appointed as direct recruits in respect of substantive posts in their quota," it said.

"The appellants, in our considered opinion, should have been in a position to accept the distinction. But the inter se dispute between the promotees and the direct recruits seems to be a ceaseless affair," the bench said.

The petitioners were appointed as district 'munsifs' in Andhra Pradesh Judicial Service in 1985-1987 and were later promoted as sub-judges.

Thereafter, their names were recommended for promotion to the post of District and Sessions Judge, grade-II, in 2002 and these recommendations approved by the state government.

In March 2001, while they were working as sub-judges, the Law Ministry sanctioned 86 additional posts to be established as FTCs and initially, the Registrar General of Andhra Pradesh High Court recommended for appointments of 44 judges for five years with effect from April 1, 2001.

The state government accorded sanction for 44 additional courts, after which the posts were sanctioned.

In May 2002, the state government approved 36 names for appointment as District and Sessions Judges, grade-II, by transfer and the high court issued posting orders.

In September 2008, a seniority list of judicial officers was published in which names of judges, who were appointed by direct recruitment, were mentioned above the names of District and Sessions Judges promoted by way of transfer from the cadre of senior civil judge.

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