Punjab and Haryana High Court: After the Division Bench of G.S. Sandhawalia and Harpreet Kaur Jeewan reprimanded the State authorities for using ‘per se contemptuous’ language in the letter conveying non-acceptance of recommendation for promotion of 13 Haryana Civil Service (Judicial Branch) Officers, the State produced its justification and filed a short affidavit through Mr. Sanjeev Kaushal, Chief Secretary of Haryana. The Court accordingly allowed the petitioner to file an amended writ petition and adjourned the next hearing to 9-10-2023. It also said that “Keeping in view the controversy involved, the original record received be sealed and kept with the Registrar Judicial.”
It was stated on behalf of the petitioner that the writ for mandamus was initially filed to conclude the selection and notification of appointments by way of promotion of selected/recommended candidates. However, in pursuance of order dated 6-09-2023, the State issued a letter dated 12-09-2023 conveying its non-acceptance of the recommendations for promotion during the pendency of the instant writ petition.
On 13-09-2023, the Court took note of the letter dated 12-09-2023 wherein, the recommendation of promotion for the 13 Haryana Civil Service (Judicial Branch) Officers was not accepted by the authorities. The relevant portion of the said letter, as depicted by the Court, read as:
“The Constitution has conferred upon High Court a sacred and noble duty to give best advice or the opinion to the Governor. The High Court cannot act arbitrarily in giving its opinion to the Governor or else it will be a betrayal of trust. If the advice is not supportable by any material on record and is arbitrary in character, it may not have any binding value/effect.”
The Court pulled the authorities concerned finding the language used in the said letter to be ‘per se contemptuous‘ and ordered the Joint Secretary to Government of Haryana who signed the said letter to appear before the Court on the same day to give justification as to the manner in which the said letter was addressed to this Court. When the Court questioned the Joint Secretary whether she had read the letter before signing the same, she conveyed that the same was recommended by the Chief Minister. That was the reason the Court required the Chief Secretary, Government of Haryana to be present before the Court on 14-09-2023 and produce the original file, just to see who approved the issuance of the said letter.
[Shikha v. State of Haryana, 2023 SCC OnLine P&H 1611, Order dated 14-09-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For Petitioners: Senior Advocate Gurminder Singh, Advocate Harpriya Khaneka
For Respondents: Advocate General B.R. Mahajan, Deputy Advocate General Arun Beniwal, Senior Advocate Munisha Gandhi, Advocate Shubreet Kaur Saron