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HC Can Initiate Disciplinary Proceedings Against Judicial Officer Facing Sexual Harassment Allegations: SC [Read Judgment]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
21 Aug 2019 12:38 PM GMT
HC Can Initiate Disciplinary Proceedings Against Judicial Officer Facing Sexual Harassment Allegations: SC [Read Judgment]

"Provisions of Sections 11 and 13 in no manner affect the control of the High Court under Article 235, which it has with respect to judicial officers"

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The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, dismissed a writ petition filed by a Judicial Officer of Delhi Higher Judicial Services, who is facing disciplinary proceedings alleging sexual harassment.

A Junior Judicial Assistant had filed a complaint against the judicial officer alleging sexual harassment at work place. When the matter reached the Full Court, the Judicial Officer was placed under suspension with immediate effect pending disciplinary proceeding contemplated against him. The judge approached the Apex court seeking to quash the proceedings of Internal Complaints Committee as well as Charge Sheet filed against him.

One of the contentions raised was that in view of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, there being an Inquiry Report by Internal Complaints Committee as envisaged by Sections 11 and 13, the High Court could not have taken a decision to initiate the inquiry or to suspend the judicial officer. The issues considered by the bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Navin Sinha were:

  1. Whether the High Court is a disciplinary authority of the petitioner, competent to initiate the disciplinary proceedings against the petitioner and suspend him as per Delhi Higher Judicial Service Rules, 1970 and All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969?
  2. Whether the decision of the Full Court on 13.07.2016 initiating enquiry against the petitioner and placing him under suspension was beyond jurisdiction?
  3. Whether the Preliminary Inquiry Report submitted by Internal Complaints Committee dated 05.11.2016 ought to have been supplied to the petitioner and non-supply of such Preliminary Inquiry Report dated 05.11.2016 vitiated the entire proceedings?

Answering the first two issues, the bench observed that provisions of Sections 11 and 13 in no manner affect the control of the High Court under Article 235, which it has with respect to judicial officers as noted above.

"The power to suspend the judicial officer vests in the High Court. The Full Court of the High court is in no manner precluded from initiating disciplinary inquiry against the petitioner and placing the petitioner under suspension on being satisfied that sufficient material existed. The High Court in its meeting dated 19.07.2016 has resolved to send the complaint of the employee to the Internal Complaints Committee and the Internal Complaints Committee having opined that inquiry need to be held, further steps were taken in accordance with Act, 2013." 

With regard to the third issue, the bench noted that under Section 11(1) in the second proviso, the only contemplation is to make available a copy of the findings. Thus, when the report in which there are no findings, parties are not entitled to have the copy, the bench said while dismissing the petition.

Click here to Read/Download Judgment



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