Chamber Of A Judge Is Also A Public Office, HC Judge Pulls Up Registrar For Not Installing CCTV Cameras In His Chambers
"Chamber of a Hon'ble Judge is also a "public office" and there cannot be any other interpretation other than this.
"Two weeks lapsed, three weeks lapsed and now, four weeks lapsed. Nothing happened, is the painful situation", said Justice SM Subramaniam of Madras High Court while he pulled up Registrar for not yet taking steps in installing CCTV cameras at his chamber.
The Judge, in an order issued yesterday observed that there is nothing wrong in monitoring the judicial and administrative functions of the Judges in their Chambers which is also a public office. The judge reiterated that the costs will be borne by himself, if no funds are available with the High Court.
The Judge had, one month ago, directed the Registrar (Administration) to install CCTV cameras in his chambers. The direction was issued in a bid to follow his own advice to the Chief Secretary to the State government to install CCTV cameras inside official chambers and office rooms of all higher officials, "in order to avoid all such allegations/complaints against the higher officials and to safeguard the interest of women officers and women employees from the offences of sexual harassment".
Explaining the intent of the order, the judge said: "This Court thought fit at the time of delivering the judgment that Charity should begin at home, and install the CCTV Camera, is of paramount importance on account of the current day developments and considering the growing crime rate in the Country, more specifically, Sexual Harassment in work places against women"
Judges' Chamber Is Also A Public Office
The judge also referred to SC judgment in Pradyuman Bisht V. Union of India, wherein directions were issued for installation of CCTV Cameras inside the Courts and at such important locations, Court complexes, as may be considered, appropriate. Justice Subramaniam further observed:
"Chamber of a Hon'ble Judge is also a "public office" and there cannot be any other interpretation other than this. Chambers of the Hon'ble High Court Judge is used as a Court Hall for conducting in-camera proceedings and to deal the administrative files, judicial orders and for dictation of judgments. Thus, the Chambers of the Hon'ble Judge is certainly the "public office" and there cannot be any other second opinion. When the Chamber of a Hon'ble Judge is a "public office", then there cannot be any inference in respect of the installation of CCTV Camera and the Hon'ble Judge felt that both for security purposes and to function transparently, such an action is initiated."
Posting the matter on 15th March, the judge has asked the Registrar to answer the following questions
- Whether the copy of the order dated 14.02.2019 in W.P.No.25213 of 2018 has been received by the Registrar (Administration) or not ?
- Whether the Registrar (Administration) is aware of the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in the case of Pradyuman Bisht V. Union of India, reported in 2018 15 SCC 433 or not?
- What all are the procedures adopted for furnishing and providing infrastructures and other facilities to the Chambers of the Hon'ble Judges and how much financial allotment is granted to each Chamber of the Hon'ble Judges?
- What all are the furnishings, infrastructures, installations and facilities provided in the Chambers of the Hon'ble Judges and the expenditures already met by the Hon'ble High Court for providing such facilities to the Chambers of the Hon'ble Judges of the Hon'ble High Court of Madras?
- What is the difficulty for the Registrar(Administration) in installing the CCTV Cameras in the Chambers of Hon'ble Mr.Justice S.M.SUBRAMANIAM, inspite of the fact that the Hon'ble Judge himself informed the Registrar(Administration) that the CCTV Camera can be installed from and out of his Chamber funds allotted or at his own cost?
- Even in the absence of judicial order, whether the Hon'ble Judge has got powers to install CCTV Camera in the interest of his own security as well as in the interest of justice as held by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in the case cited supra ?
- Public confidence in the judicial institution is of paramount importance. When Courts are issuing certain directions to the Government and to the other other authorities in respect of public offices and more specifically, within the Court premises to monitor the movements of the Advocates, Staff members and litigants, this Court is of the humble opinion that nothing wrong in monitoring the judicial and administrative functions of the Hon'ble Judges in their Chambers as the Hon'ble Judges Chambers are also falling within the definition of "public office".
- Under these circumstances, the Registrar(Administration) has to furnish the details in respect of the above questions raised, so as to proceed further in this matter.