28 Jun 2022 11:30 AM GMT
The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently set aside the order of the Disciplinary Authority against a former lower court Judge, whereby he was held guilty of misconduct. Corollary to the same, the Court also set aside the order of his compulsory retirement. He was held guilty by the Disciplinary Authority for, among other things, granting bail with "corrupt or oblique motive" and for...
The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently set aside the order of the Disciplinary Authority against a former lower court Judge, whereby he was held guilty of misconduct. Corollary to the same, the Court also set aside the order of his compulsory retirement. He was held guilty by the Disciplinary Authority for, among other things, granting bail with "corrupt or oblique motive" and for granting adjournments on "extremely flimsy grounds".
Disagreeing with the reasoning of the Disciplinary Authority regarding the adjournments granted by the Petitioner/Former lower court Judge, the division bench of Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Vishal Mishra observed-
Whether the concerned Judge was justified in granting adjournments or not, cannot be ascertained by merely looking at the order sheets and the number of times, the case has been adjourned. There are so many factual situations that happen in the open Court which cannot always come about in the order sheets of the Judge. Many of the submissions, many of the requests and many such events that happen in the open Court are best left between the discussions of the Bar and the Bench. It is not necessary that each and every word that an advocate states in an open Court requires to be transcribed into the order sheets. The Judge holding a Court is not a stenographer to take down the dictation of each and every advocate.
The case of the Petitioner was that the Authorities had proposed to hold a departmental enquiry against him, related to certain judicial orders passed by him when he was posted as an Additional District and Sessions judge. The Enquiring Officer had absolved him of the charges levelled against him, holding that the same could not be proved. The matter was then placed before the Disciplinary Authority which reversed the finding of the Enquiring Officer. Aggrieved by the said decision along with the order of his compulsory retirement, he moved the Court to challenge same.
The Petitioner submitted before the Court that the Disciplinary Authority had erroneously reversed the findings of the Enquiring Officer based on mere inference. He also pointed out that in spite of making a request, he was not granted an opportunity of a personal hearing. He further submitted that there was no complaint against him in his entire career as a Judge of the Madhya Pradesh Judicial Services. Therefore, he argued that he was wrongly removed him from service.
Per contra, the Respondents submitted that the Disciplinary Authority was justified in reversing the findings of the Enquiring Officer. It was further submitted that the Petitioner being a judicial officer was expected to maintain the highest degree of honesty and integrity but had failed to do so. Therefore, the Respondents argued, they were justified in passing the impugned orders.
Examining the submissions of the parties and documents on record, the Court held that it was unable to reason with the findings of the Disciplinary Authority. With regard to Petitioner granting bail in violation of the provisions, the Court opined that the same may reflect upon his understanding of law rather than his corrupt intent-
If even according to the Disciplinary Authority, the grant of bail is in violation of the mandatory provisions, the same may reflect upon the competency of the Judge in understanding the law. It cannot lead to a conclusion that he is either corrupt or the order has been passed for extraneous consideration. It is trite to mention that there are many judicial orders that may be considered to be right or may be considered to be wrong. It is not necessary that in every case where bail is granted, the same has to always be looked into with suspicious eyes that it is granted with corrupt motive or for an extraneous consideration. We do not find any logic or reason, let alone an explanation for arriving at such a conclusion. There may be a possibility that the concerned Judge has either misread the evidence or has applied it wrongly. At the most it only reflects upon his judicial competency and not that he is either corrupt or the order has been passed for extraneous consideration.
The Court then expressed its disagreement with the conclusion of the Disciplinary Authority with regard to the allegation against the Petitioner for leniently granting adjournments. The Court opined that there are several situations brought before the courts which do not make it to their order sheets but are considered for adjournments, nevertheless-
We do not think that the Disciplinary Authority could have recorded such a reason of finding fault with the concerned Judge for being lenient to the Bar. One really does not know as to what happens when an adjournment is sought for. It is not proper to come to a conclusion that only because an adjournment has been granted, the integrity of a Judge has to be doubted. It is a matter of fact that whenever a matter is listed, that too, for arguments, the learned counsels always seek time to either prepare themselves or for other reasons. An adjournment may be granted. Therefore, we do not think that this could be held against the concerned Judge.
The Court did not accept the observations made by the Disciplinary Authority that by granting adjournments the Petitioner manifested 'lack of devotion'-
The lack of devotion that has been stated by the Disciplinary Authority, if it is to be accepted on a face value, would infer that no Judge should grant any adjournment to any lawyer in any case at any point of time. Unfortunately, the stakeholders would know that this cannot be done. It is not necessary that the learned advocates seek adjournment only because they do not intend to argue the matter. On many an occasion, there are very valid grounds for which an advocate would seek an adjournment. But only because the Judge grants it, cannot be said that he lacks devotion.
Perusing the ACRs of the Petitioner, the Court noted that his integrity was never questioned. It eas observed that his reports revealed that he enjoyed a good reputation and was touted as a good worker who was prompt in performance of his duties. Therefore, the Court held that it could not find any valid reason for the Disciplinary Authority to reverse the findings of the Enquiring Officer.
With the aforesaid observations, the Court set aside the impugned orders and further held that the Petitioner was entitled to 25% of the arrears of pay from the date of dismissal i.e., compulsory retirement. The Respondents were also directed to rework the Petitioner's salary, his entitlements and retiral benefits accordingly.
Case Title : K.C.RAJWANI v THE STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH LAW & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS AND ANR
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (MP) 166
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