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Judicial Officer's Integrity Must Be Of A Higher Order And Even A Single Aberration Is Not Permitted: SC [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
27 Feb 2020 12:32 PM GMT
Judicial Officer
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The Supreme Court in its judgment delivered on Thursday summed up the law on the subject of compulsory retirement of Judicial officers,

The bench comprising of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta observed that 'washed off' theory does not apply in the case of adverse entries with regard to integrity of Judicial Officers.

A judicial officer's integrity must be of a higher order and even a single aberration is not permitted, said the bench while dismissing the Writ Petitions filed by Judicial officers of Jharkhand who were compulsorily retired.

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One of the contentions taken in this case was that since the Judicial officers have been promoted to various higher posts, their record prior to the promotion will lose its sting and is not of much value. Referring to various judgments which discuss the principles regarding compulsory retirement, the bench summed up the principles as follows:

  • (i) An order directing compulsory retirement of a judicial officer is not punitive in nature;
  • (ii) An order directing compulsory retirement of a judicial officer has no civil consequences;
  • (iii) While considering the case of a judicial officer for compulsory retirement the entire record of the judicial officer should be taken into consideration, though the latter and more contemporaneous record must be given more weightage;
  • (iv) Subsequent promotions do not mean that earlier adverse record cannot be looked into while deciding whether a judicial officer should be compulsorily retired;
  • (v) The 'washed off' theory does not apply in case of judicial officers specially in respect of adverse entries relating to integrity;
  • (vi) The courts should exercise their power of judicial review with great circumspection and restraint keeping in view the fact that compulsory retirement of a judicial officer is normally directed on the recommendation of a high powered committee(s) of the High Court.

Referring to some allegations against the Judicial officers, the bench observed that the findings by the screening committee and standing committee need not be interfered with.  

Case name: ARUN KUMAR GUPTA vs. STATE OF JHARKHAND 
Case no.: WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 190 OF 2018
Coram: Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta 


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