Kerala High Court: The Bench of P.V. Asha, J. was seized of civil writ petition where the issues were: (i) whether the recommendation in Justice K.J. Shetty Commission Report to grant advance increments to candidates having post-graduation in law applies to the District Judges also; and (ii) whether the order passed by Government on 23-11-2013 as modified on 17-11-2017 to the extent it limited advance increments only to those District Judges who were in service on 22-11-2013 was discriminatory.

Petitioner herein had commenced his service as a District Judge on 18-08-1995, on direct recruitment, was elevated as a Judge of this Court on 18-01-2012 and demitted office on 24-11-2015. At the time of his recruitment as District Judge in the Kerala State Higher Judicial Service, he was holding LLM Degree from the University of Kerala. He filed the instant petition seeking increment, as recommended by Shetty Commission.

The Court opined that Chapter 10 of the Shetty Commission Report dealt with direct recruitment to the cadre of District Judges. The said Chapter had no recommendation to grant incentives to Civil Judges (Senior Division) or the District Judges having higher qualification.

Further, it is settled law that whenever a new benefit is introduced it is open to the Government to fix a date so as to grant the benefit with effect from the date of the order or any particular date. Advance increments were granted as per government’s order to the District Judges having LLM, who were in service on 22-11-2013. Those who had already left service as on that date, either by retirement or elevation or otherwise, were automatically left out from the class. Therefore, classification of District Judges on such ground was not violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

In view of the above, the petition was dismissed. [A.V. Ramakrishna Pillai v. State of Kerala, 2018 SCC OnLine Ker 7429, decided on 13-11-2018]


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