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  • A plea has been filed in the Bombay HC challenging section 3 of the Judges (Protection) Act, 1985 that protects Judges from criminal or civil liability with regard to anything done or said by them in discharge of their official duties.
  • The petitioner, Sabina Lakdawala, had filed an application in the Court of 12th Bandra Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court under the DV Act on October 23, 2021 against her in-laws after her husband had passed away. The matter was heard for ex-parte relief on 30 October, 2021. However, the learned Magistrate left for her Diwali Vacation on the same day without passing any order in the same.
  • It was alleged by the petitioner that she had learned from some trusted sources that the Magistrate is inclined to delay the proceedings. Alarmed by this, she moved the HC. The HC directed the Magistrate to pass appropriate orders in the same.
  • Her in-laws were then called upon to file a counter affidavit, but despite no substantial arguments being advanced by her in-laws, she was not granted any relief in the Court of the learned Magistrate. The Court also adjourned the matter for hearing in March, 2022 which was later pre-poned to December, 2021. Even on this occasion the magistrate refused to pass any order, citing as reason, a lack of jurisdiction.
  • In the present writ petition filed under Article 226, she has sought directions to strike out the impugned section 3, or atleast read it down so that the immunity does not apply to cases where the Judge acts maliciously and wilfully denies justice.
  • The petitioner also claims that despite the injustice meted out to her, she cannot institute any proceedings against the respondent Magistrate because of the absolute immunity that the said Act provides. It was further contended by the petitioner that section 3 of the aforementioned Act renders section 197 of CrPC infructuous. Section 197 of CrPC favors the accountability of Judges by providing that the sanction for prosecuting any Judge for the wrongful acts done by him during the course of his duty as such Judge has to be sought by the appropriate government. Unless such a sanction is granted, the Courts cannot take cognizance of such wrongdoings by the Judge.
  • Equality before law and equal protection of the laws as envisaged in Article 14 of the Constitution forms the bedrock of our justice system. Thus, the petitioner contended that absolute immunity granted to a Judge even in cases of malicious and wilful denial of justice stands against the very foundation of our criminal justice system.
  • It was the petitioner’s plea that due to the wilful denial of the magistrate to pass the order, she was rendered homeless and at the mercy of others, she thus quantified the mental and physical agony that she was subjected to at 10 crores. It is important to note here that the business empire of her husband was worth 1000 crores.
  • The respondents to the instant petition also include the Magistrate, Department of Law and Justice, Maharashtra Public Service Commissioner and the Registrar, HC.
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