REFERENCE: WRIT PETITION NO.17326/2017& WMP. NO.18834/2017
DATE OF JUDGEMENT:
10th July 2017
Justice Nooty. Ramamohana Rao
Justice M. Dhandapani
Thiru N. Vasudevan, District Munsif -cum-Judicial Magistrate............ (Petitioner)
The Registrar General, High Court of Madras....................................(Respondent)
- Whether the petitioner can implead the Registrar General as a party?
- Whether the disciplinary action against the petitioner has been initiated mechanically or mere asking by the complainant?
When the defendant was not present at the time of pronouncement of judgement, such judgement and decree passed by the presiding officer would be drawn fraught with risk and danger and leading to a possible error.
- The petitioner who was working, at the relevant point of time, as a Principal District Munsif, Gingee. There was a civil matter seeking a decree to be passed for payment of a debt on the foot of a promissory note before him. The petitioner had passed a judgement and decree in the absence of the defendant.
- The defendant against whom the decree was passed, filed a complaint against the petitioner, and alleged that he had threatened him to make an endorsement on the Court record admitting the suit claim. Therefore, he prayed in his complaint that suitable action is taken in the matter.
- To the pursuant of the complaint, the Hon’ble Administrative Committee had initiated Disciplinary Proceeding against the petitioner, passed an order was communicated by the Registrar General on 01.04.2016 and imposed punishment of withholding one increment for a period of one year without cumulative effect on the petitioner.
- The petition had filed a writ petition against the order on 01.04.2016 and proceeded in opposition to the Registrar General.
TAMIL NADU CIVIL SERVICES (DISCIPLINE AND APPEAL) RULES
- Rule 17(a): According to which, orders can be passed by the Disciplinary Authority, wherever it is proposed to impose on a member of a service, any of the penalties specified under Sub-Rules (i), (ii), (iii), (v) and (ix) in Rule 8.
- Such a member of service shall be given a reasonable opportunity of making any representation that he may desire to make and such representation may be taken into consideration before the order imposing penalty is passed.
- The above set out penalties is known as minor penalties.
ANALYSIS OF THE JUDGEMENT
- At the time of adjudication of the matter, the Court had stated entertaining complaints about the judicial order passed by a Presiding Officers, if were to be liberally entertained, it would open up Pandora's box, if not, a bottom less pit.
- A Judicial Officer is not supposed to take sides in favour of one party or the other,the partisan attitude would not meet the standard expected of a Judicial Officer.
- The Courts have consistently been following the principle that justice must not only be done but must appear to have been so done.
- The Court pointed out the infirmity in settling the parties to this case. The High Court of Madras had not impleaded as a necessary or as a proper party. The decision to impose a penalty on the writ petitioner was taken by the High Court of Madras, but not by its Registrar General.
- The Registrar General was only an Official Communicating Agency, through whom the decision of the High Court, taken on the administrative side,would get communicated. So the Court had dismissed the case on such a technical ground.
- The petitioner had contended that the conduct of a Judicial Officer in passing a particular order cannot be made the subject matter of disciplinary proceedings.
- The Court mentioned if there are no strong grounds to suspect the officer's bona fides, to initiate disciplinary proceedings against a Judicial Officer for the judicial work should not be normally undertaken.
- The Court has also believed that the Committee after scrutiny of the entire material, suspected that there was something improper from the side of the writ petitioner.
- Thus, the Committee had studied carefully the entire case papers and upon a strong suspicion that the conduct of the Judicial Officer passed a particular order lacks bona fides.
- Every Judicial Officer is expected to maintain complete neutrality in every matter. In the present case, the Court went by that standard and the conduct of the judge.
The Court has evaluated that, if the suit set aside a minor punishment as per said Rules, and the disciplinary proceedings is to bedrawn afresh again, there is no guarantee that this time around the proceedings is confined only up to the imposition of such minor punishment. The Court had dealt with the issue at length. If one were to follow the standard adopted by the writ petitioner, the writ petition and the WMP should be dismissed. In the exercise of discretionary power of the court in the matter, it was decided to leave the petitioner to bear his costs.
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