This Article is written by ABHISHREE PARADKAR, a student of symbiosis law school, Pune
The Supreme Court of India upheld the order which directed compulsory retirement of a Judicial Officer from Haryana. The matter was decided by Judges Uday Lalit and Ajay Rastogi of the Apex Court.
Certain disciplinary proceedings had been initiated against the judicial officer after a preliminary enquiry brought to light “heavy and unexplained bank transactions”. The authority which made the inquiry had also submitted a report on 23rd May 2016 which found the petitioner guilty of being involved in unexplained bank transactions. However, the Disciplinary/ Vigilance Committee that was set up to deal with the issue found that the charges against the petitioner had not been proven and therefore, provided a recommendation to clear the judicial officer of all the charges.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court, however, refused to accept these recommendations and proceeded with imposing a penalty of compulsory retirement on the officer. Following the same, the Competent authority passed the said order, retiring him from his membership of the Haryana Superior Judicial Service.
The judicial officer challenged these orders by approaching the Supreme Court under a Writ Petition and contended that the Disciplinary/ Vigilance Committee had already found no evidence against the petitioner and this conclusion had been made “for and on behalf of the Full Court” and therefore, the Punjab and Haryana High Court cannot recommend compulsory retirement to the petitioner.
Observations of the Court
The Hon’ble Judges Uday Lalit and Ajay Rastogi drew observations from the case- State of Uttar Pradesh v. Batuk Deo Pati Tripathi
The judgement of the said case law provides that for the smooth functioning of the administrative business and convenience of operating the day-to-day matters with respect to the control over the subordinate judiciary, the High Courts are permitted to empower and authorize an Administrative Judge or an Administrative Committee of Judges to look into the said matter and act on behalf of the High Court. This was stated with reference to any specific authorization which is in favour of the Administrative Committee falling under the terms mentioned under Rule 1 of Chapter III of Rules of Court, 1952 as framed by the High Court with a requirement that the recommendations that were made the Committee would not hold any constitutional infirmity.
However, this does not imply that in the absence of such rules authorizing and empowering the committee, any decision made or conclusion drawn by it would be entirely binding on the Court or that the Court would exceed its jurisdiction in choosing a different view in the matter.
The Court therefore, stated that the High Courts are free to have their own say in the judgement without accepting the conclusions of the Committee.
Hence, the Supreme Court concurred with the High Court, considering the facts of the case where the records showed multiple transactions including withdrawals and deposits of substantial amounts, it cannot be said that the Full Court was unjustified in taking a different view from the Administrative Committee. It also refused to accept the plea of withdrawing the Writ Petition.