Wednesday, September 15, 2010

One adverse entry in service record & you’re gone, Supreme Court tells judges

One adverse entry in service record & you’re gone, Supreme Court tells judges

Wednesday, Sep 15, 2010, 3:03 IST
By Rakesh Bhatnagar | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

Subordinate court judges, beware! The Supreme Court (SC) has held that even a single adverse entry, howsoever old, in the service records of such judges casting doubts on their “integrity” can lead to serious consequences, including forced retirement.

SC, which is engaged in strengthening infrastructure in subordinate courts where at least 2.5 crore cases are pending for years, wants matters relating to judicial officers examined differently than any other “wing of society”, such as government servants.

“He [the judge] is serving the state in a different capacity,” the court said while upholding a Jharkhand high court (HC) full bench order awarding compulsory retirement to temporary additional district judge Pyare Mohan Lal.

Lal joined Bihar Civil Service in 1982 as a munsif (judicial magistrate) and was confirmed in 1987. In March 2001, the Patna high court issued a notification promoting him to the post of subordinate judge.

The same year Bihar was bifurcated and Lal was sent to Jharkhand. After serving as a sub-judge in Ranchi, he was again promoted, along with other judicial officers, as a temporary additional district judge in the city’s fast-track court.

On May 12, 2003, however, the Jharkhand HC passed an administrative order recommending compulsory retirement of six judicial officers, including Lal, in “public interest”.

The court had examined Lal’s service record and found that he was an average officer who needed massive improvement. His reputation was not good, either.

In fact, the inspecting judge of HC submitted an adverse report about him, saying Lal’s knowledge was average and he needed “extensive study”. The judge said his disposal of cases was not “up to the mark” and there were “some whispers [about his reputation]”.

Lal moved HC, but to no avail. He later filed a petition before SC alleging “non application of mind” by HC and termed its order “mala fide”.

Rejecting his pleas, a bench of justices JM Panchal, Deepak Verma and BS Chauhan held that since Lal’s retirement had been upheld by a full bench of HC, “there is hardly any chance to make allegations of non-application of mind”.

Referring to Lal’s service record, the bench said it’s evident that he “remained an average officer throughout his career” and could “never improve”. His performance had been poor and there were entries that his “integrity/reputation was not good”, it said.

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