Allahabad HC suspends Judicial Officer who slapped sedition charges against Arun Jaitley

Allahabad HC suspends Judicial Officer who slapped sedition charges against Arun Jaitley

Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court on Saturday suspended Judicial Officer Ankit Goel, who had slapped sedition charges against Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in October last year. The Judge has been suspended for irregularities and acting beyond his jurisdiction. He has been found prima facie guilty of “indiscretion in carrying out judicial work” and an inquiry has been ordered against him for further action.

Mr. Goel had taken suo motu cognizance of Mr. Jaitley’s criticism of the Supreme Court’s decision declaring the National Judicial Appointments Commission unconstitutional. In the order, he had said that Mr. Jaitley’s blog ‘Indian democracy cannot be a tyranny of the unelected’ prima facie amounted to sedition under Section 124A as well as causing public mischief under Section 505 of Indian Penal Code. He had summoned Mr. Jaitley to be present before him in November.

This order had been challenged before the High Court. Justice Yashwant Varma of the Allahabad High Court had then quashed the order of the Judicial Magistrate. Coming down heavily on the Magistrate, the Court had said that the Magistrate appears to have “closed his eyes to the well-settled view that healthy criticism or even intellectual disagreement with a particular view of a judge contained in a judgment of the court is not a crime”. The view expressed may be unacceptable or even unpalatable to some, but the same does not render it liable to prosecution under the Penal Code, the Court had added. You may read the LiveLaw article here.

The High Court also dismissed the summons issued by him to Samajwadi Party Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav for his purported comment that allegations of gang rape could often be fabricated.

Interestingly, the Kerala High Court recently ruled that except in exceptional circumstances, a judicial officer is protected from legal action of whatever nature for wrong orders rendered by him. You may read the LiveLaw article here. However the kind of action taken against Mr. Goel is yet to be seen.