Madras High Court initiate suo motu contempt proceedings over arrest of Magistrate

Madras High Court initiate suo motu contempt proceedings over arrest of Magistrate

The Madras High Court has initiated suo motu contempt proceedings against a woman Superintendent of Police and four of her subordinates over the arrest of a Judicial Magistrate. The Court came down vehemently on the Police for deliberately violating the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court concerning arrest of judicial officers.

The Court said, “Blatant misuse of powers and showing scant regard and disrespect to the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court, have compelled us to take a suo motu action for contempt by five police officers and three constables. By this action, the Police had lowered the authority of the court in the eye of the general public, which prima facie amounts to contempt of court."

Four days ago, Conoor Fast Track Court Magistrate, S Thangaraj was arrested after a complaint received from one woman sub-inspector. She alleged that Thangaraj had known her for more than a year and a half, while he was a practising lawyer and they were involved in a sexual relationship under the promise of marriage. She says, Thangaraj started avoiding her after becoming magistrate and married another woman. She complained of rape, intimidation and cheating against Thangaraj.

The Supreme Court in
Delhi Judicial Service vs State Of Gujarat 
has laid down guidelines regarding arrest of judicial officers and the arrest of Thangaraj seems to be against these guidelines. The guidelines are listed below.

(A) If a judicial officer is to be arrested for some offence, it should be done under intimation to the District Judge or the High Court as the case may be.

(B) If facts and circumstances necessitate the immediate arrest of a judicial officer of the subordinate judiciary, a technical or formal arrest may be effected.

(C) The facts of such arrest should be immediately communicated to the District and Sessions Judge of the concerned District and the Chief Justice of the High Court.

(D) The Judicial Officer so arrested shall not be taken to a police station, without the prior order or directions of the District & Sessions Judge of the concerned District, if available.

(E) Immediate facilities shall be provided to the Judicial Officer to communication with his family members, legal advisers and Judicial Officers, including the District & Sessions Judge.

(F) No statement of a Judicial Officer who is under arrest be recorded nor any panchnama be drawn up nor any medical tests be conducted except in the presence of the Legal Adviser of the Judicial Officer concerned or another Judicial Office of equal or higher rank, it' available.

(G) There should be no handcuffing of a Judicial Officer. If, however, violent resistance to arrest is offered or there is imminent need to effect physical arrest in order to avert danger to life and limb, the person resisting arrest may be over-powered and' handcuffed. In such case, immediate report shall be made to the District & Sessions Judge concerned and also to the Chief Justice of the High Court. But the burden would be on the Police to establish necessity for effecting physical arrest and handcuffing the Judicial Officer and if it be established that the physical arrest and handcuffing of the Judicial Officer was unjustified, the Police Officers causing or responsible for such arrest and handcuffing would be guilty of misconduct and would also be personally liable for compensation and/or damages as may be summarily determined by the High Court.