The Bombay High Court has dismissed the PIL filed by advocate Ulhas Naik challenging the elevation of Justice SK Shinde to the bench and imposed a cost of Rs. 1 lakh for levelling reckless allegations against the judge.
The bench of Justice RM Borde and Justice RG Ketkar noted that the petitioner advocate had intentionally made an incorrect statement on oath that Justice Shinde, (who before becoming the Chief Public Prosecutor was a district judge) “was ineligible for being appointed as a judge of the high court as he had been compulsorily retired while functioning as a district judge.”
The court verified the original records and observed that Justice Shinde had tendered his resignation for the post of judge, City Civil Court and Additional Sessions Judge, Bombay, to the Registrar General, High Court at Bombay on August 1, 2006.
“It was reported by the Registry that there were no dues payable by Respondent No. 7 (Shinde J), nor there was any departmental proceeding pending against him. The High Court recommended to the Government of Maharashtra to accept the letter of resignation and in pursuance of such recommendation, the State of Maharashtra, by an order dated September 4, 2006, accepted the resignation tendered by Respondent No. 7 from the date of the service of the decision of the State Government on Respondent No. 7,” the court said.
During the pendency of the PIL, the court observed how the petitioner first filed a notice of motion seeking liberty to file a fresh PIL. Then, the petitioner said how he was not aware exactly but believed that there is a “public perception” that Justice Shinde “in view of contemplation of departmental enquiry seems to have been compulsorily retired or sought voluntary retirement or resigned from the service”.
As far Justice Shinde’s appointment itself is concerned, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh informed the court that the procedures prescribed by the Memorandum of Procedures were followed scrupulously before the notification for his appointment was issued. The ASG also mentioned how “Justice Shinde was well known for his expertise in criminal law and for his standing and reputation at the Bar.”
Finally, condemning the nature of the PIL filed by the advocate, the court said: “The PIL is a weapon which is to be used with great care and circumspection and the judiciary has to be extremely careful to see that behind the beautiful veil of public interest an ugly private malice, vested interest and/ or publicity seeker is not lurking. It is to be used as an effective weapon in the armory of law for delivering social justice to the citizens. We are compelled to record that while scrutinizing the challenge raised before us in the form of PIL, there is a lurking and ugly private malice, vested interest and/or publicity seeker tendency.”