The Bombay High Court has dismissed a writ petition filed by one Girish Gosavi who is a probationer Civil Judge Junior Division and Judicial Magistrate First Class at Ulhasnagar and was dismissed from service for being unsuitable. He had challenged his discharge communicated to him on November 18, 2013, by Justice KK Sonawane of the high court, who was at the time the Principal District Judge, Thane.
The petitioner also challenged a communication by the Legal Adviser and Joint Secretary, Government of Maharashtra, and the recommendations of the probation committee of the high court. Both had recommended his discharge from service.
A bench of Justice RM Sawant and Justice S Kotwal rejected the argument that the order of discharge passed against the petitioner was stigmatic and concluded that it was a case of simple discharge upon finding the petitioner unsuitable.
An anonymous complaint was received by the Registry of the District Court, Ulhasnagar, dated October 18, 2011. It was stated in the said complaint that the petitioner was staying at Andheri, Mumbai, and comes to the district court in Ulhasnagar around 11.30-12.00 noon. That he does the work of the morning court after 11.30 am. He calls the advocates in his chamber and chitchats with them, thereby undermining the confidence of the litigants. It was further alleged that the petitioner discusses about other judges in the presence of the lawyers and he carries out court work from his chamber. He sits at 12.00 noon for the morning court and thereby creates difficulties for the staff, lawyers and litigants as reports cannot be prepared.
Apart from this, oral complaints about the petitioner were received by the Principal District Judge. On the basis of these complaints, the Principal District judge decided to pay a surprise visit to the Ulhasnagar District Court and check the punctuality of the petitioner. It was found that the petitioner did not arrive till 11:45 am and around noon, a message was received by the court staff that the petitioner was not keeping well and would not be coming.
Another district judge was sent to the Ulhasnagar court in order to enquire about the allegations in the anonymous complaint against the petitioner. He concluded that the petitioner remained absent from duty for 6 days each in February, March and April. It was also concluded that the petitioner remained absent in the morning court but used to attend the regular court.
Submissions and Judgment
Petitioner’s lawyer Neeta Karnik argued that since the order of discharge is on account of special report of the Principal District Judge, Thane, in which disparaging remarks as regards the conduct, character and integrity of the petitioner are made, the same are stigmatic and, therefore, the petitioner could not have been discharged without being given an opportunity to explain the alleged circumstances which are against him.
Karnik also submitted that the conclusion which the learned Principal District Judge, Thane, has reached as regards the unsatisfactory work and conduct of the petitioner are based upon unsubstantiated allegations.
Senior advocate PS Dani appeared on behalf of the Registrar General of the Bombay High Court and the then Principal District Judge, Thane, (Justice KK Sonawane). He submitted that all the relevant material, including the ACRs written by the Principal District Judge as well as the report of the guardian judge, were placed before the probation committee of the Bombay High Court that comprises of three judges. The committee also held in favour of discharge of the petitioner.
After examining the judgment of the apex court in Samsher Singh v/s State of Punjab and another, the court noted-
What flows from the aforesaid judgment is that if there is a suspicion of misconduct, the discretion is of the employer to go into it or he may not go into the guilt of the probationer but would not like to keep a man he is not happy with.
The court also said even if the strong language used by the Principal District Judge, Thane, could have been avoided, the probation committee still found him not suitable for continuation of service and thus the order passed against him was a simple order of discharge. Hence the petition was dismissed.
Read the Judgment Here