Joshi Vs. State of U.P. & Ors  Insc 377 (8 August 2001)
Babu & Doraiswamy Raju Rajendra Babu, J. :
appeal is directed against the order of the High Court of Allahabad dismissing
a writ petition filed by the appellant. Certain disciplinary proceedings were
initiated against the appellant. After inquiry, he was held guilty of the
charges and was ultimately terminated from service. A writ petition was filed
by him in the High Court on the grounds, inter alia, that:
charges leveled against him do not constitute misconduct; and
findings recorded in the inquiry are based on conjectures and surmises and not
High Court found that there was material for the inquiry officer to reach the
conclusions adverse to the appellant and dismissed the writ petition.
disciplinary proceedings were initiated, inter alia, on complaints made by two
Advocates, namely, V.K.Tiwari and Rajiv Kumar Singh. Nine charges were leveled
against the appellant, seven of them pertain to orders of bail granted in 19
cases. During his tenure of two years at Etah, the appellant is stated to have
disposed of over 3,000 bail applications. Only 19 bail orders out of these 3000
bail applications were the subject matter of charge sheet. The Enquiry Officer,
however, found that in 7 cases, orders of bail were properly granted and the
charges were not proved to that extent. In four cases the charges are held to
be partly proved. In one case, the appellant himself had recalled the order of
bail after about 1-1/2 months of the grant of bail on an application made by
the complainant on the ground that the bail was obtained by fraud and
misrepresentation. In two other cases, according to the Enquiry Officer, bail
ought to have been granted on the very first application, but it was granted on
the second application. The Enquiry Officer took note of each one of the cases
before him and re-examined whether bail should have been granted in each one of
those cases or not.
parties concerned had not made any complaint in any one of the cases. On
examination of each one of the charges in relation to grant of bail, the
Enquiry Officer proceeded to consider the cases on merits. He found that there
used to be a pattern in rejecting the first bail application and thereafter
even in the absence of fresh ground, second bail application was entertained
and bail had been granted or in certain other cases even in the first instance
itself the bail ought to have been granted.
we have been taken through the various charges levelled against the appellant
in detail and the material placed before the Enquiry Officer, it is clear that
inferences have been drawn only on the basis that either the applications had
been rejected at earlier stage for grant of bail or such applications ought to
have been granted at the first stage itself.
no specific material was brought on record to show or prove that there were any
mala fide or extraneous reasons on the part of the appellant in passing the
test to be adopted in such cases is as stated by this Court in the cases of
Union of India & Ors. vs. A.N.Saxena, 1992 (3) SCC 124 and Union of India & Anr. vs. K.K.Dhawan, 1993 (2) SCC 56.
In K.K.Dhawans case [supra], this Court indicated the basis upon which a
disciplinary action can be initiated in respect of a judicial or a quasi-
judicial action as follows :
the judicial officer has conducted in a manner as would reflect on his
reputation or integrity or good faith or devotion to duty;
there is prima facie material to show recklessness or misconduct in the
discharge of his duty;
if he has acted negligently or that he omitted the prescribed conditions which
are essential for the exercise of the statutory powers;
if he had acted in order to unduly favour a party;
if he had been actuated by corrupt motive.
with a matter of similar nature in Ishwar Chand Jain vs. High Court of Punjab
& Haryana & Anr., 1988 Supp. (1) SCR 396, the following observations
were made by this Court :
While exercising control over the subordinate judiciary under the Constitution,
the High Court is under a constitutional obligation to guide and protect
judicial officers. An honest, strict judicial officer is likely to have
adversaries. If complaints are entertained on trifling matters relating to
judicial officers which may have been upheld by the High Court on the judicial
side, and if the judicial officers are under constant threat of complaints and
enquiry on trifling matters, and if the High Court encourages anonymous
complaints, no judicial officer would feel secure, and it would be difficult
for him to discharge his duties in an honest and independent manner. An
independent and honest judiciary is a sine qua non for the Rule of law. It is
imperative that the High Court should take steps to protect its honest judicial
officers by ignoring ill-conceived or motivated complaints made by unscrupulous
lawyers and litigants. [p.409] In the present case, though elaborate enquiry
has been conducted by the Enquiry Officer, there is hardly any material worth
the name forthcoming except to scrutinize each one of the orders made by the
appellant on the judicial side to arrive at a different conclusion. That there
was possibility on a given set of facts to arrive at a different conclusion is
no ground to indict a judicial officer for taking one view and that too for
alleged misconduct for that reason alone. The Enquiry Officer has not found any
other material, which would reflect on his reputation or integrity or good
faith or devotion to duty or that he has been actuated by any corrupt motive.
At best he may say that the view taken by the appellant is not proper or
correct and not attribute any motive to him which is for extraneous consideration
that he had acted in that manner. If in every case where an order of a
subordinate court is found to be faulty a disciplinary action were to be
initiated, the confidence of the subordinate judiciary will be shaken and the
officers will be in constant fear of writing a judgment so as not to face a
disciplinary enquiry and thus judicial officers cannot act independently or
fearlessly. Indeed the words of caution are given in K.K.Dhawans case [supra]
and A.N.Saxenas case [supra] that merely because the order is wrong or the
action taken could have been different does not warrant initiation of
disciplinary proceedings against the judicial officer.
spite of such caution, it is unfortunate that the High Court has chosen to
initiate disciplinary proceedings against the appellant in this case.
are other two charges in respect of which the appellant was found to be guilty.
One relates to grant of order of stay of disconnection of telephone for
non-payment of Rs.410/- to the Telephone Department in a consumer dispute filed
by a senior government doctor. All that he did in his capacity as Incharge
District Judge on the assumption that the District Judge being the ex-officio
Chairman of the District Consumer Forum he could grant such an order and that
too when one of the members of the Forum has placed the papers before him
seeking for orders. At best it is a case of bona fide and erroneous exercise of
judicial powers and that matter cannot be treated as misconduct at all. How the
Enquiry Officer could arrive at a finding that it is falling in one of the
categories mentioned above surpasses our comprehension.
last charge is to the effect that the appellant had appointed a mali [gardener] on a temporary basis for a period of 3-12
months at a time when he was Incharge District Judge. The action of the
appellant was too trivial to call for any action because the appointment made
by him was not pursuant to any improper motives such as illegal gratification
or otherwise. How the same amounts to misconduct is not clear to us at all
except to state that he was only Incharge District Judge.
we find that the findings recorded by the Enquiry Officer are totally vitiated
for want of any legally acceptable or relevant evidence to support the charges
of misconduct. In the absence of any evidence, the Enquiry Officer could not
have reached the conclusion in the manner he did, and these findings affirmed
by the disciplinary authority also stand vitiated.
learned counsel for the respondents sought to rely upon a number of decisions
of this Court to indicate the scope of interference in matters of this nature.
We have adverted to the broad principles attracted to a case of this nature
which are sufficient for disposal.
we do not refer to other decisions.
therefore, have no hesitation to allow this appeal, set aside the order made by
the High Court and thereby allow the writ petition filed by the appellant,
directing his immediate reinstatement in service with continuity of service and
all consequential benefits such as payment of arrears of salary and other
benefits. No costs.
RAJENDRA BABU ] ...J.
DORAISWAMY RAJU ] AUGUST