The Supreme Court on Friday expunged observations made against Ernakulam Principal District and Sessions Judge Honey M Varghese in a judgement of the Kerala High Court which suggested that she had exhibited political favouritism.
The bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer and JK Maheshwari observed that it'll be just and proper to expunge the observations/adverse remarks made against the judicial officer in the impugned order.
"We have learned counsel for the parties. We are of the view that it is just and proper to expunge the observations/adverse remarks made against the petitioner-judicial officer in the impugned order. Ordered accordingly. The Special Leave Petition is accordingly disposed of," the bench said in its order. On May 2, 2022 the bench headed by Justice Vineet Saran (now retired) had issued notice in the SLP and also stayed the High Court's observations.
The bench was hearing a SLP against a judgment of the Kerala High Court which allegedly made 'unwarranted' and 'unjustified' remarks about her.
The impugned order was passed in a transfer petition filed before the High Court by the father of the victim of a political murder seeking the transfer of bail application pending before the Court where the petitioner was the presiding officer. The father harboured a purported apprehension that since the petitioner's father was a member of the CPI(M) political party to which the accused also belongs, he would not get a fair hearing in the bail application. The father also alleged that the petitioner did not direct the supply of copies of the documents to the victim's counsel.
The High Court in the impugned order went on to hold that there is a basis for the apprehension of his father that he will not get a fair hearing in the bail application filed by the accused in the crime. The Court also observed that the judge appeared to have "affinity" towards the political party of teh accused.
The officer had asserted in the SLP that has had an unblemished career as a judicial officer spanning nearing a decade and maintained utmost probity and transparency throughout her judicial career. While clarifying that she moved the SLP obtaining the requisite permission from the Deputy Registrar of the Kerala High Court to take the appropriate legal remedy to expunge the said remarks, the petitioner argued that such observations erode the well-founded public confidence in the Court presided over by the petitioner as one of unquestionable integrity, equity and fairness. Although she had no grievance or objection to the substantive order transferring the application pending before her court to another court, it was argued that she took exception to the Court alluding any error in the procedure adopted by her in her capacity as a judicial officer as indicative of political favouritism - as uncalled for and in any event, unwarranted given the facts of the case.
Case Title: Honey M. Varghese v. State of Kerala & Others