Promotion of CJM who convicted Rahul stayed

One-liner: The SC on Friday stayed the promotion of 68 Gujarat lower judicial officers, including Surat Chief Judicial Magistrate Harish Hasmukhbhai Varma who had convicted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case.

In violation of service rules: A bench said the promotion of the judicial officers was in violation of the Gujarat State Judicial Service Rules 2005, amended in 2011, which states that promotions must be made on the principle of merit-cum-seniority and on passing a suitability test.

Illegal: "We are more than satisfied that the impugned list issued by the HC and the subsequent order issued by the state govt granting promotion to district judges are illegal and contrary to the decision of this court. The same is, therefore, not sustainable," the bench said.

Stayed: "We stay the implementation of the promotion list. Respective promotees are sent to their original post which they were holding prior to their promotion," it said, and passed an interim order staying the promotions and directed that the matter be heard by an appropriate bench.

Hearing of plea: The top court was hearing a plea of senior civil judge cadre officers, Ravikumar Maheta and Sachin Prataprai Mehta, challenging the selection of the 68 judicial officers to the higher cadre of district judges.

Reply sought: It had also asked the High Court Registrar General to file a reply specifically on whether the promotions to the post in question are to be given on the basis of the seniority-cum-merit or the merit-cum-seniority and place on record the entire merit list.

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