The Karnataka High Court has dismissed a petition filed by a former Civil Judge, Junior Division questioning the order dated March 22, 2021 passed by the state government ordering compulsory retirement from service.
A single judge bench of Justice P S Dinesh Kumar while dismissing the petition filed by Shivanand Laxman Anchi said,
"It is relevant to note that Court proceedings are sacrosanct acts. By instructing the Bench Clerk to prepare the order sheets of the previous day and by signing them on the following day, petitioner has committed a serious dereliction of his duty."
"To record proceedings in the order sheet, which have not actually taken place is anathema to sacrosanct Court proceedings and such conduct cannot be countenanced in the case of a Judicial Officer/Judge. If this is permitted, there will be no sanctity for the proceedings. It is therefore, imperative that strict action is taken."
The petitioner was appointed as a Civil Judge, Junior Division in April 2014. In 2019, he was posted as Additional Civil Judge, JMFC, Virajpet and by a Notification dated June 22, 2019, he was placed in charge as Civil Judge and JMFC, Ponnampet with a direction to itinerate the said court for three days in a week, on every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
On June 27, 2019, the Principal District and Sessions Judge, Kodagu, Madikeri conducted a surprise visit and noticed that the petitioner was signing the order sheets of the previous day on 27th June and putting the date as 26th June.
Based on the report of the Principal District Judge, Articles of Charges were issued. A Departmental Enquiry was conducted by the First Additional District Judge, Kodagu, Madikeri and he held the charge as proved. A second show cause notice was issued and the petitioner submitted his reply. Petitioner was compulsorily retired vide order dated March 22, 2021.
Further, he said the petitioner was forced to remain absent for half-day in the afternoon of 26th June due to his father's health condition. The punishment of compulsory retirement is therefore grossly disproportionate.
The bench went through the evidence recorded in the department enquiry conducted and said, "It is recorded in the enquiry report that petitioner had neither cross-examined the witnesses nor adduced any evidence on his behalf. On appreciation of evidence on record, the enquiry officer has held the charges against petitioner were proved. Even before this Court, Shri. Sridhar Prabhu has mainly argued on the aspect of proportionality."
Following which it opined,
"Maintenance of high degree of probity and integrity, are the hallmarks of Judges. Litigants approach the Court with utmost trust. To record proceedings in the order sheet, which have not actually taken place is anathema to sacrosanct Court proceedings and such conduct cannot be countenanced in the case of a Judicial Officer/Judge. If this is permitted, there will be no sanctity for the proceedings. It is therefore imperative that strict action is taken."
Accordingly it held, "Petitioner has not chosen to cross examine the witnesses. He has also not let in any evidence in the enquiry. In view of the above, no exception can be taken to the quantum of penalty imposed for the petitioner."
Case Title: SHIVANAND LAXMAN ANCHI v. THE STATE OF KARNATAKA
Case No: WRIT PETITION No.16983 OF 2021
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 236
Date of Order: 3RD DAY OF JUNE, 2022
Appearance: Advocate SHRIDHAR PRABHU for petitioner; AGA A. RAMESH GOWDA, FOR R1; Advocate M.A. SUBRAMANI, FOR R2