Will stick to Earlier Decision of Terminating Six Women Judicial Officers: MP HC tells SC

The Madhya Pradesh High Court told the Supreme Court on Friday that it will stick to its earlier decision of terminating the services of six women judicial officers for their unsatisfactory performance.

The apex court had on February 2 asked the high court to decide within three weeks whether it can reconsider its decision to terminate the services of the six judicial officers.

The counsel representing the high court informed a bench of justices B V Nagarathna and Augustine George Masih about the decision.

The bench, which was hearing a suo motu (on its own) petition initiated after three of the six former judicial officers approached the top court against the termination of their services, has posted the matter for further proceedings on April 30.

On January 12, the top court had taken cognisance of the termination of the services of the six women civil judges and issued notice to the registrar general of the high court seeking a response. The court had also issued notice to the axed judicial officers asking them to place on record their contentions.

Senior advocate Gaurav Agrawal is assisting the apex court as an amicus curiae in the matter. Advocate Tanvi Dubey appeared for one of the former judicial officers during the hearing on Friday.

Agrawal had earlier told the top court that no adverse remarks had been made about the performance of these former judicial officers by the administrative committee of the high court.

He had said three of the six former judicial officers, who had approached the top court last year after their services were terminated, had moved the high court too against their dismissal and their petition is pending there.

He had also informed the apex court that the plea which was filed in the top court was later withdrawn.

According to the January 11 office report of the case uploaded on the apex court website, the application by three former Civil Judges, class-II (Junior Division) from Madhya Pradesh State Judicial Service was addressed to the apex court.

The three former judges had said the termination happened despite the fact that quantitative assessment of their work could not be done on account of Covid outbreak.

“It is further submitted that the officers along with three other female officers were appointed in Judicial Services in the state of Madhya Pradesh. They are alleged to be terminated from service primarily on account of disposal not being up to the standards set,” the office report said.

The termination orders were passed in June 2023 by the state law department after an administrative committee of the high court and a full court meeting found their performance during the probation period unsatisfactory.

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According to an impleadment application filed by one of the former judges through advocate Charu Mathur, despite having an unblemished service record of four years and not having suffered any adverse remarks, she was terminated without following the due process of law.

She alleged her termination from service was a violation of her fundamental rights under Articles 14 (right to equality before law) and 21 (right to life and personal liberty) of the Constitution .

She said in her application that if the period of her maternity as well as child care leave is taken into consideration in the quantitative work assessment, it will cause grave injustice to her.

“It is a settled law that maternity and child care leave is a fundamental right of a woman and also the infant, therefore evaluation of the applicant’s performance for the probation period on the basis of the leave taken by her as part of maternity and child care is grossly violative of her fundamental rights,” the application said.

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