10 June 2024


Judgments

Supreme Court

Ram Murti Yadav Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors.

MANU/SC/1710/2019

10.12.2019

Service

Strict standard needs to be applied for judging conduct of judicial officer

The Appellant, a judicial officer of the rank of Additional District and Sessions Judge, assails his order of compulsory retirement at 56 years of age under Rule 56 (C) of the U.P. Fundamental Rules.

The Appellant while posted as a Chief Judicial Magistrate granted acquittal to the Accused in Criminal Case of 2005. A complaint was lodged against the Appellant with regard to the acquittal. After calling for comments from the Appellant, and perusing the judgment and the order of reversal in appeal, the Administrative Judge recommended an enquiry. A vigilance enquiry, was held. The enquiry report dated 10.05.2012 was adverse to the Appellant. The Appellant was informed that on basis of the enquiry, a censure entry had been recorded in his character roll. The order of punishment was accepted by the Appellant without any challenge.

A committee of three Hon'ble Judges constituted for screening of judicial officers for compulsorily retirement under the Rules recommended the compulsory retirement of the Appellant which was endorsed by the Full Court leading to the impugned order of compulsory retirement.

An error of judgment in deciding a criminal case, while discharging judicial functions, cannot ipso facto lead to an inference of dishonesty. There was in fact no material to infer dishonesty or lack of integrity on part of the Appellant in granting acquittal in the criminal case. Merely because a different view was possible does not justify the extreme step of compulsory retirement. The order of compulsory retirement being stigmatic in nature, the failure to hold departmental enquiry vitiates the same.

The complaint against the Appellant with regard to the acquittal granted by him was first considered by the Administrative Judge, who was satisfied that it is a matter for further enquiry. The comments of the Appellant were called for. A vigilance enquiry was recommended by the Administrative Judge, who obviously was not satisfied with the explanation furnished. The officer holding the vigilance enquiry was also a judicial officer who opined that the act of acquittal by the Appellant was not above board. The comments of the Appellant were again called for. The Screening Committee consisting of three Hon'ble Judges, on an overall assessment of the Appellant's service record, recommended his compulsory retirement. The Full Court scrutinised the service records of the Appellant again while considering the recommendation of the Screening Committee and arrived at the conclusion that it was in public interest to compulsory retire the Appellant. It is undisputed that, the punishment of censure meted out to the Appellant was never assailed by him.

A person seeking justice, has the first exposure to the justice delivery system at the level of subordinate judiciary, and thus a sense of injustice can have serious repercussions not only on that individual but can have its fall out in the society as well. The standard or yardstick for judging the conduct of the judicial officer therefore has necessarily to be strict.

It is not every inadvertent flaw or error that will make a judicial officer culpable. The State Judicial Academies undoubtedly has a stellar role to perform in this regard. A bona fide error may need correction and counselling. But a conduct which creates a perception beyond the ordinary cannot be countenanced. For a trained legal mind, a judicial order speaks for itself. In conclusion, the order of compulsory retirement of the Appellant calls for no interference. The appeal is dismissed.

Relevant

Registrar General, Patna High Court v. Pandey Gajendra Prasad and Ors., MANU/SC/0444/2012

Tags : Compulsory retirement Legality

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