A letter has been written by the Association of Judges to the Supreme Court as well as the Gujarat High Court that seeks to postpone the ‘Suitability Test’ for the Judicial Officers in the state, in consideration for promotion to the District Judge Cadre in wake of COVID19.
The said test has been scheduled for April 4, 2021 at Ahmedabad. About 66 Subordinate Judicial Officers have been summoned for the purpose. The Association highlighted the fact how the COVID19 cases are booming in Ahmedabad and 5 to 6 officers that were summoned already tested positive for novel Corona Virus.
It also stated, "We feel great pain to say that arranging such test at Ahmedabad during this peak period of pandemic is very insensitive step on part of the Recruitment branch of the High Court of Gujarat."
It was also highlighted that the Judicial Officers have to come from far off places amidst the pandemic which could prove fatal to their health and they might end up avoiding the test. It was further added, "This not only denial of the equal opportunity for the promotion but gross discrimination and breach of the fundamental right of consideration for the promotion.” While laying down its reasons, case of Ajit Singh & Ors. v. State of Punjab & Ors., (1999) 7 SCC 209 was referred. The Supreme Court further observed:
"Article 16(1) provides to every employee otherwise eligible for promotion or who comes within the zone of consideration, a fundamental right to be "considered" for promotion. Equal opportunity here means the right to be considered" for promotion. If a person satisfies the eligibility and zone criteria but is not considered for promotion, then there will be a clear infraction of his fundamental right to be "considered" for promotion, which is his personal right.”
The Association also objected to the production of a negative COVID19 report mandatorily by the summoned Judicial Officers while remarking,
"It appears that Hon'ble High Court is repeatedly curtailing fundamental right of Judicial Officers for the consideration for 65% promotion to the DJ cadre from eligible SrCJs. Now, for the suitability test eligible Judicial Officers (who are in the zone of consideration) have to submit RTPCR (negative) certificate...!! To go on duty in court every morning, they don't require such safety but to appear for the promotion test they require such certificate. This means, Judicial Officers who found positive in RTPCR are not entitled for the promotion...?"
Henceforth, on these grounds, the Association requested the postponement of the said test and asked for it to be arranged virtually when the time is suitable.