12 Mar 2011

Judgment-writing cannot be outsourced: Supreme Court

Dismissing the challenge to the order of the High Court  of Jharkhand, the Supreme Court in a recent decision [Ajit Kumar v. State of Jharkhand] held that that the resolution passed by the judges of the High Court terminating the services of a lower-court judge was valid. The High Court has ordered so, having relied upon the report of an Inspecting judge who had concluded that "the appellant did not use to prepare judgments on his own, rather he used to get it prepared through some body else before delivering the judgments". The High Court had directed the termination without holding any "enquiry as it was felt that it was not practicable in the interest of the institution to hold an inquiry since it may lead to the question of validity of several judgments rendered by him."

Expressing its opinion on the issue in no uncertain terms, the Supreme Court declared that the decision of High Court could not be faulted with only on the ground that no inquiry was carried out. It summed up the legal position in the following terms;
11. In the case in hand, the officer concerned was working as sub-ordinate Judge and during the course of inspection by the Inspecting Judge it was found that he did not use to prepare judgments on his own, he used to get it prepared through some body else before delivering the judgments. Undisputedly, the inspecting Judge submitted his report to the Chief Justice of the High Court. The High Court considered the said report and thereafter was of the opinion that it is not possible to hold an enquiry in the case of the appellant and that holding of such enquiry should be dispensed with in view of the fact that if an enquiry is held the same may lead to the question of validity of several judgments rendered by the appellant. The aforesaid reason recorded by the High Court was a legal and valid ground for not holding an enquiry. There was therefore also no necessity of giving him any opportunity of hearing as the scope of holding an enquiry and giving him an opportunity of hearing was specifically dispensed with.
12. Consequently, the High Court recommended the removal of the appellant from service. Subsequent to that, the Governor decided to invoke the provisions of Article 311(2) (b) of the Constitution of India as holding of enquiry may lead to question of the validity of several judgments delivered by the appellant. The procedure and the pre-conditions laid down for invoking the extra-ordinary power under Article 311(2) (b) having been complied with and properly exercised within the parameters of the provisions, the order passed by the competent authority removing the appellant from the services cannot be held to be without jurisdiction and power. 
15. It cannot be disputed that the power under the aforesaid Articles is to be exercised by the Governor in consultation with the High Court. Under the scheme of the Indian Constitution the High Court is vested with the power to take decision for appointment of the sub-ordinate judiciary under Articles 234 to 236 of the Constitution. The High Court is also vested with the power to see that the high traditions and standards of the judiciary are maintained by the selection of proper persons to run the district judiciary. If a person is found not worthy to be a member of the judicial service or it is found that he has committed a misconduct he could be removed from the service by following the procedure laid. Power could also be exercised for such dismissal or removal by following the pre-conditions as laid down under Article 311(2) (b) of the Constitution of India. Even for imposing a punishment of dismissal or removal or reduction in rank, the High Court can hold disciplinary proceedings and recommend such punishments. The Governor, alone is competent to impose such punishment upon persons coming under Articles 233 - 235 read with Article 311(2) of the Constitution of India. Similarly, such a power could be exercised by the High Court to dispense with an enquiry for a reason to be recorded in writing and such dispensation of an enquiry for valid reasons when recommended to the Governor, it is within the competence of the Governor to issue such orders in terms of the recommendation of the High Court in exercise of power under Article 311(2) (b) of the Constitution of India.

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