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  India   All India  28 Feb 2020  Integrity of judicial officers must be high, says top court

Integrity of judicial officers must be high, says top court

THE ASIAN AGE. | PRAMOD KUMAR
Published : Feb 28, 2020, 2:13 am IST
Updated : Feb 28, 2020, 2:13 am IST

The two judicial officers had approached the top court in 2018 after they were compulsorily retired by the high court.

Supreme Court
 Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday set high standards for judicial officers saying they are expected to be of “much higher integrity” than officers in other streams and even a single aberration by them is not permitted.

“The standard of integrity and probity expected from judicial officers is much higher than that expected from other officers,” said a bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Deepak Gupta in their judgment upholding the compulsory retirement of two judicial officers in Jharkhand.

 

The court was dealing with the case of judicial officers who were compulsorily retired by Jharkhand high court in “public interest”, taking recourse to the Rule 74(b)(ii) of the Jharkhand Service Code, 2001.

One of the judicial officers, Arun Kumar Gupta, who was compulsorily retired had allegedly placed a hot iron on the head of a washerman for not ironing his clothes properly. The washerman later denied having been physically hurt by Mr Gupta and the judicial officer was exonerated.

In the case of the other judicial officer, Raj Nandan Rai, the top court said, “As far as this officer is concerned, we find that his record on many counts is not at all good.

His reputation and integrity have been doubted more than once in the years 1996­1997, 1997­ 20 1998  and  2004­2005.”

Justice Gupta, speaking for the bench, however, rejected the contention by the two judicial officers that in the course of their service they got various promotion and that itself washes off any adverse entry against them in the past.

Spelling out the law on compulsory retirement of judicial officers, the court said that the “wash off ” theory does not apply in case of judicial officers, especially with respect to adverse entries relating to integrity.

The two judicial officers had approached the top court in 2018 after they were compulsorily retired by the high court.

However, the top court by its September 6, 2018, had asked the high court to reconsider their cases in light of the “entirety of the materials” that was placed before it by the Registrar General of the Jharkhand high court.

The screening committee and the standing committee of the high court after re-appreciating the entire material reiterated their conclusion to compulsorily retire both of them.

Two serious allegations against Mr Gupta, the court noted included that while “working as deputy director, administrative training institute, at Ranchi, 10 ladies, who were civil service probationers made allegations that he was using unwarranted and objectionable language during his lectures, citing indecent examples and using words having double meaning and thereby causing embarrassment to lady officers.”

In the case relating to the placing of hot iron on the head of a washerman, the then principal district judge, to whom the washerman had reported the incident and who got the washerman treated, had told the Jharkhand high court that the victim had suffered burn injuries.

However, the top court noted, that his successor, principal district judge who conducted the preliminary inquiry did not care to examine his predecessor district judge who was personally approached by the washerman.

Referring to the incident of the hot iron, the top court said, “We are of the view that the screening committee was right that the victim may have been put under some pressure to withdraw his complaint. These occurrences are of the year 2011­ 2012 and cannot be said to be very old.” 

Tags: supreme court