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  India   All India  10 Sep 2019  Supreme Court asks HCs to avoid scathing remark

Supreme Court asks HCs to avoid scathing remark

Published : Sep 10, 2019, 3:42 am IST
Updated : Sep 10, 2019, 7:07 am IST

The high court, the top court said, can definitely say that the order passed shows “total lack of knowledge of law”.

Supreme Court of India (Photo: PTI)
 Supreme Court of India (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said that except for examining the correctness of a judgment by a lower court, the high courts should desist from passing “scathing remarks” against the judicial officers of the subordinate judiciary questioning their “integrity” or casting aspersion on their “character”.

“The judgment may be right or wrong, but the higher courts should not pass scathing remarks against the presiding officer of the lower courts only because they do not agree with the point of view of the trial court”, said a bench of Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose in their recent order.

Referring to the adverse remarks made by the high court, the top court in its order said,  “We are clearly of the view that all the adverse remarks in the judgment made against appellant (judicial officer), whereby his integrity has been questioned or whereby aspersions have been cast on his character, judicial orders or otherwise are bound to be expunged.”

The high court, the top court said, can definitely say that the order passed shows “total lack of knowledge of law”.

But when the high court went further and virtually “castigated the judicial officer as an unworthy and corrupt person” then the high court in our view, “over-stepped its boundaries” and such remarks need to be expunged, the top court said expunging the adverse remarks by the high court.

The judicial officer against whom Allahabad high court had passed adverse remarks was presiding over Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. A matter was settled between the claimant and the Insurance Company and settlement petition was filed before the tribunal, which was signed on behalf of the claimant by a lawyer.

Since two lawyers — R.M.Singh and D.K. Saxena — had filed the vakalatnama for the claimant, the other lawyer R.M. Singh objected to the recording of the settlement by the tribunal saying that his professional fee has not been paid.
The presiding officer of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal accepted the objection by Singh and ordered that the settlement petition could be filed by him and not by D.K.Saxena. This order of the tribunal was challenged before the High Court.

Upholding that the High Court was right in setting aside the tribunal order, the top court said, “It is not for any Court to settle the dispute between the lawyers with regard to payment of fees. If there is any misconduct on the part of the lawyer in taking up the brief of another lawyer, normally it is for the Bar Council and not for the Court to settle the dispute.”

The top court agreed with the High Court holding that the claimants in the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal should not be made to suffer because of the dispute between the lawyers.

The High Court while passing the remarks critical of the judicial officer of the tribunal had referred the matter to the Chief Justice of the High Court on the administrative side for an appropriate action.

Pointing to the remarks against the judicial officer questioning his integrity, the top court said,” Even if the High Court felt as strongly as it did that action needed to be taken, then the proper course was to place the matter before the Chief Justice on the administrative side with a request that action be taken against the concerned judicial officer.”

The High Court while recommending the matter on the administrative side for disciplinary action, however, passed the scathing remarks, which “virtually” meant that the appellant stood “condemned” even before any disciplinary proceedings were initiated against him.

Tags: supreme court, high courts
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi