“Judges are to remain humble and not be guided by their ego or prejudices,” remarked the Delhi High Court on Wednesday as it took strong objection to an Additional Sessions Judge satisfying his “sadistic pleasures” by summonsing senior police officers, ordering inquiries, making scathing remarks and delaying hearing in a criminal case only because one of the summons issued to the investigating officer was “lost”.
Justice Vinod Goel reprimanded the ASJ for becoming “egoistic” and ordering inquiries against senior cops rather than checking with his own staff about the loss of summons.
The high court said so, while setting aside the April 20, 2017, order of the ASJ, vide which he had directed the Commissioner of Police to conduct inquiry against DCP North and ACP (Civil Lines) who, he felt, had failed to efficiently probe how the summons issued by him to the investigating officer in the criminal case went missing.
On the ASJ taking strict view of DCP not appearing in person before him, the high court said, “The DCP being not available for justifiable reason, before the ASJ on 20.04.2017 seems to have hurt the ASJ’s ego who was under the belief that high-ranking executive officials are somehow inferior to members of the Judiciary and bound by all their directions. The ASJ to satisfy his own sadistic pleasures seems to have forgotten that Judges are to remain humble and not be guided by their ego or prejudices.”
“Time and again the Apex Court has deprecated the practice of Courts summoning senior Police and Government officials by observing that Judges should have modesty and humility. They should realise that summoning a senior official, except in some very rare and exceptional situation, and that too for compelling reasons, is counter-productive and may also involve heavy expenses and valuable time of the official concerned,” it said.
The court referred to the 2004 Supreme Court judgment in the Testa Setalvad vs State of Gujarat case wherein the apex court has deprecated the practice of courts in making remarks about the incompetence or character of either the parties, their counsels or other government officials.
“Therefore, I find that the order of the ASJ in ordering an enquiry against the ACP, Civil Lines and DCP to be highly arbitrary and unbecoming of a Judge who is supposed to maintain judicial propriety at all times and is not to be guided by his ego or personal prejudices against someone or a particular group or class of people/officers,” Justice Goel ordered.
He also asked all district & sessions judges to sensitise the judicial officers under their jurisdiction.
In the instant case, a criminal case came to be registered in 2016. After filing of the chargesheet, the case was committed to the court of the Sessions judge.
On February 28, 2017, the ASJ ordered to summon the Investigating Officer for March 8 and fixed the matter for arguments on charge. On March 8, it was observed by the ASJ that process in respect of the IO was not received back and therefore, he issued fresh summons to the concerned IO and also summonsed the Incharge of the V-B for March 22.
The IO and the incharge of V-B of Police Station Timarpur, appeared before the ASJ on March 22, and informed the court that he had not received any summons. The Naib court, who is the link between the court and the police station concerned, also informed the court that he had also not received the summons.
The ASJ, however, felt that an enquiry was required regarding the loss of summons and directed the DCP concerned to conduct an inquiry.
The DCP (North) got an inquiry conducted through ACP, Civil Lines, and a detailed report was filed in the court of the stating that the summons for appearance of the IO were never received in the police station.
The ASJ did not find this enquiry conducted by the DCP to be satisfactory. On April 20, the next date of hearing, the DCP could not appear in person since he was busy in the upcoming Municipal Elections in Delhi and was represented by ACP, Civil Lines, and SHO Timarpur.
However, the ASJ went on to note that the DCP had not taken pain to go through record of the court to find out as to whether the summons was issued or not. The ASJ observed that DCP did not make enquiry from the Naib court and does not know how to conduct an enquiry. The ASJ further observed that due to such negligence, matters are delayed and prosecution cases are demolished. The ASJ then directed the Commissioner of Police, New Delhi to take appropriate action against the DCP and ACP, Civil Lines.
“The purpose of issuing summons was to ensure the presence of the concerned person i.e. IO Harender Kumar in the Court which was achieved when on the issuance of fresh summons, IO Harender Kumar appeared before the ASJ on 22.03.2017. Further, IO Harender Kumar had also appeared on 03.04.2017.
The controversy should have been put to rest on 22.03.2017 itself by the ASJ but he chose to step over the boundaries of judicial propriety and unnecessarily directed to conduct an enquiry by the DCP about the loss of the summons allegedly issued to IO Harender Kumar,” Justice Goel noted.
The court noted that the usual practice followed by the courts of additional sessions judges to serve summons is that the summons are issued by the Ahalmad of the concerned court. These summons are handed over to the Naib Court posted in the court. The Naib Court sends the summons to the Incharge of the V-B of the concerned Police Station for execution.
“Instead of calling the Ahlmad and perusing the record himself as to whether the summons were issued by Ahlmad/court officials and to whom the summons were handed over, the ASJ without applying his mind unnecessarily chose to direct the DCP concerned to conduct an enquiry regarding the loss of summons. This particularly when the Naib Court informed the ASJ on 22.03.2017 itself that he had not received the summons. The ASJ should have confronted his Ahalmad with the Naib Court and the matter would have ended then and there.
“The ASJ should have heard the arguments on the point of charge on 22.03.2017 instead of becoming egoistic in directing the DCP to conduct an inquiry. This was not done and instead of making short enquiries from his own staff/Ahalmad, the ASJ whimsically directed an enquiry by the DCP who is completely alien to the records of the court and is already burdened with many other important responsibilities.
“The ASJ did not hear arguments on point of charge on 22.03.2017, 03.04.2017 and 20.04.2017 and himself faulted in delaying the matter and casted aspersion on DCP/ACP by observing that cases are being delayed due the negligence of such officers…,” observed Justice Goel.