Ad hoc literally means “for this” in Latin, and in English this almost always means “for this specific purpose”. Issues that come up in the course of a project often require immediate, ad hoc solutions. An ad hoc investigating committee is authorized to look into a matter of limited scope. An ad hoc ruling by an athletic council is intended to settle a particular case, and is not meant to serve as a model for later rulings. If an organization deals with too many things on an ad hoc basis, it may mean someone hasn’t been doing enough planning.
Article 127. Appointment of ad-hoc Judges-
As stated in Indian Constitution 1949
(1) If at any time there should not be a quorum of the Judges of the Supreme Court available to hold or continue any session of the Court, the Chief Justice of India may, with the previous consent of the President and after consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned, request in writing the attendance at the sittings of the Court, as an ad hoc Judge, for such period as may be necessary, of a Judge of a High Court duly qualified for appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court to be designated by the Chief Justice of India.
(2) It shall be the duty of the Judge who has been so designated, in priority to other duties of his office, to attend the sittings of the Supreme Court at the time and for the period for which his attendance is required, and while so attending he shall have all the jurisdiction, powers and privileges, and shall discharge the duties, of a Judge of the Supreme Court.
Demand for retiral benefits by ad hoc judges
The appeals for retiral benefits to be granted to ad hoc judges were filed by practicing advocates, for those who were being appointed as Additional District Judge for Fast Track Courts on an ad-hoc basis.
All of the appellants were initially appointed as ad-hoc judges for five years, which was later extended and they were subsequently relieved from their assignments. However, the writ petitions filed by the appellants challenging the relieving order were dismissed by the High Court.
The appellants then made representation urging for grant of retiral benefits, including pension, gratuity and leave encashment, which was again dismissed by the Madras HC.
Details about the case
K. Anbazhagan, G. Savithri, R. Radha, A.S. Hassina and PG Rajagopal were appointed as Fast Track Ad Hoc Judges in the State of Tamil Nadu. Their initial ad hoc appointment was for five years, which was extended and they were subsequently relieved from their assignments in the year 2011/2012. Their writ petitions challenging the relieving order was dismissed. They later filed writ petitions claiming retiral benefits including pension, gratuity, and leave encashment, which were dismissed by the high court on the following:
- The Fast Track Courts created under Eleventh Finance Commission cannot be said to have been created in a ‘pensionable establishment’.
- Rule 11 of 1978 Rules, which provides for commencement of qualifying service, do not cover appointment on contractual basis. The appointments of appellants were appointments on contract basis; hence they are not covered by Rule 11 of 1978 Rules.
- Division Bench of High court in its judgment dated 20.07.2012 rendered in Writ Petition No.13703¬13705 of 2012 treated the appointment of appellants as contractual appointment.
Ad-hoc Judges are entitled to Retiral Benefits, says Supreme Court
The bench in an elaborate discussion on the basis of materials on record and also disagreeing with reasons cited by the High court observed that their appointment was in pensionable department.
Ad-Hoc Isn’t Contractual
The bench observed: “In service jurisprudence, the appointments are made by employer with different nomenclature/characteristics. Appointments are made both on permanent or temporary basis against permanent post or temporary post. The appointment can also be made on ad hoc basis on permanent or temporary post. There is one common feature of appointments of permanent, temporary or ad hoc appointment i.e. those appointments are made against the post whether permanent or temporary. On the contrary, for contractual appointment, there is no requirement of existence of any post. A contractual appointment is not normally made against a post. Further, contractual appointments are also not normally on Pay Scale. On the mere fact that the advertisement as well as the appointment was made initially for a period of five years, the nature of appointment of the appellants cannot be termed as contractual appointment. When a Government servant is contemplated to hold a certain post for a limited period it is a Tenure Post.”
The bench further observed: “The fact that the advertisement limited the appointment for a period of five years only because the posts were contemplated for five years only, the appointment of the appellants at best can be said as “Tenure appointment”. Although temporary, ad hoc and contractual appointments are used in contradiction to a regular and permanent appointment but between ad hoc appointment and contract appointment, distinction is there in service jurisprudence and both the expressions cannot be interchangeably used. When the advertisement against which the appellants were appointed and the appointment order mentions the appointment as ad hoc appointment, we cannot approve the view of the High Court that the nature of the appointment of the appellants was only a contractual appointment.”
In a relief to lawyers appointed as ad-hoc judges, who have been battling with the Madras HC demanding retiral benefits, the Supreme Court has held that they are eligible for Pension and Gratuity.
The apex court’s judgment was passed by a bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, while hearing a batch of appeals challenging a judgment of the Madras HC.
The SC, however, setting aside the decision of the Madras High Court’s order concluded:
1. The judgment of the High Court dated 01.04.2015 is set aside and the Civil Appeals filed by the appellants are allowed.
2. The respondents are directed to approve superannuation pension to appellants K Anbazhagan and PG Rajagopal in line with 1978 Rules.
3. The respondents are directed to give permission for compensation pension to the appellants, namely, Selvi G Savithri, R Radha and AS Hassina.
4. All the appellants are entitled to payment of gratuity in conformity with 1978 Rules.
5. The respondents are also directed to permit encashment of earned leave to the credit of the appellants subject to a maximum of 240 days.
6. All above retiral benefits should be computed and paid to the appellants within a period of two months from today. The appellants shall be entitled to such payments along with the simple interest @ 7% per annum, in case the payments are made after two months.
The fast track court scheme was brought in the deal with the exigency of huge pendency of cases and the judicial officers were appointed to such courts for almost a decade and have performed their role as judges satisfactorily. Thus, the Supreme Court, ruled that judicial officers who rendered their services as fast track court judges were entitled to pensionery and retiral benefits.