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Disrespect By Subordinate Judge Deprecated- HC Showing Benevolence Expunges Adverse Remarks On Tendering Apology And Commitment To Decorum And Courtesies

Katyayana defined the virtues of a good Judge as one who is not cruel, who is sweet-tempered, kind, clever and energetic but not greedy. A Judge should exhibit the proper judicial temperament which mandatorily includes Patience, Courtesy, Open-mindedness, Tact, Courage, Punctuality, Firmness, Understanding, Compassion, Humility and Common sense. However, Patience is the virtue which should be specially imbibed deep in judges and above all a judge has to learn to control his adrenal glands and his temper. Judges, although human beings, cannot be men of clay, amenable to all human failings and all frailties and foibles of life.

Recently, the Allahabad High Court on 05-03-2021 in the case of Mohd. Irshad vs. Smt. Anjum Bano in First Appeal No. 25 of 2017 showed exemplary benevolence and expunged the remarks and revoked suspension for misbehavior & showing disrespect to the High Court. The brief facts of the case are that a Petition under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for restitution of conjugal rights was filed in the Court of Principal Judge, Family Court, Sultanpur although both the petitioner & the respondent were Muslims.

On First Appeal, the High Court observed the family court below has wrongly decided the application for interim maintenance made therein and stayed the operation and implementation of the order dated 09.12.2015 passed by Principal Judge, Family Court, Sultanpur as well as further proceedings of Original Suit No.85 of 2014.

The High Court also directed the Principal Judge, Family Court, Sultanpur to appear in person before the Court and explain why this case was registered under Section 9 of Hindu Marriage Act although the parties therein were Muslims. In response to the said order the Principal Judge, Family Court, Sultanpur send a reply/report through letter stating therein that the case was heard & issue decided by his predecessor judge in accordance with the facts & pleadings.

Later, pursuant to order dated 23.10.2019, Sri Manoj Kumar Shukla, Principal Judge, District Sultanpur appeared before the Court on 18-11-2019 and reiterated that at the time of passing of the order dated 09.12.2015, he was not the Principal Judge of Family Court, District Sultanpur.

However, during enquiries by the Court he became agitated that he had been unnecessarily summoned although he had not passed the impugned order. He protested the manner in which judicial officers are being summoned by the High Court. He also submitted that such types of mistakes are committed by Judicial Officers due to heavy rush of work in the Court & lack of other infrastructural facilities.

He also reacted loudly on the failure of the family court to apply the correct law & also questioned about the functioning of the High Court and created scene in the Courtroom before the Members of the Bar who were sitting in the Court. He was annoyed that in past also, he was summoned by a Bench of the High Court. He kept on repeating that he had been unnecessarily called for and he also commented adversely on the functioning of the High Court. On being cautioned & warned of dire consequences affecting his career he was defiant and critical. The High Court was deeply irked by his misconduct/ misbehavior & disrespect for the High Court observed as under:

In view of the above, we are constrained to observe, that too, with a heavy heart and affliction that the scene created by the Judicial Officer, Sri Manoj Kumar Shukla today inside the Court room has diminished the image of Judiciary which was unwarranted and also it manifested disrespect to this Court which is not expected of a Judicial Officer. The conduct of the Judicial Officer in full view of the members of the Bar was not only disrespectful but was an attempt to show this Court in poor light. Our Constitutional Scheme recognizes and provides for a hierarchical system of Courts in achieving the goal of dispensation of justice.

In such a hierarchy, if a Judge of a subordinate court fails to conduct himself in a manner expected of the Judicial Officer, it is not only bound to lower the dignity and majesty of the Court but it may even tend to shake the faith and trust of the litigant who is the most important stake holder in the justice dispensation system.

The behavior and conduct of the Officer inside the Court room was such that it even caught the attention of the learned Members of the Bar who felt annoyed and even requested this Court to initiate appropriate action against the Officer. However, we feel it appropriate to refer the entire matter to Hon'ble the Chief Justice, who being the parens patriae needs to be apprised of any such misdemeanor by a Judicial Officer, who in this case, most astonishingly is of the rank of District Judge.

We, therefore, direct the Senior Registrar to place this order before Hon'ble the Chief Justice for taking appropriate and necessary action.

Later, the said Sri Manoj Kumar Shukla erstwhile Principal Judge, Family Court, Sultanpur under suspension since 22.11.2019 moved an application being C.M.Application No. 32788 of 2021 for expunction of adverse remarks made against him by this Court in its order dated 18.11.2019 & offered unconditional apology for the untoward happenings on the last day of hearing. He stood before the Court 'with folded hands and in tears, seeking mercy and pardon' and repented for being anguished because he had not passed the order impugned in the first appeal yet he had been made to appear before the High Court.

He regretted that in a momentary lapse of control over his faculties, the said incident had occurred. He also committed that he shall never repeat what he did before this Court on 18.11.2019 and earlier before another Bench. He lamented that his entire career was at stake as he has been superseded by officers junior to him, who have been promoted as District Judge. He begged for mercy as both his life and career have been tainted because of the adverse remarks. The Bench of the High Court accepted his unconditional apology and showed unprecedented benevolence in the matter and held thus:

Considering the overall facts of the case as the applicant is a Judicial Officer of the of rank of Additional District Judge and also as he expresses sincere regret and remorse regarding his conduct which is also reflected from his affidavit filed in support of the application for expunction of remarks, paragraph 2 and 11 of which read as under:

2. That before submitting anything on the fact the deponent most respectfully submits that he is Judicial Officer member of Higher Judicial Services and he maintains high dignity and discipline of his office and his entire carrier remained throughout unblemished. The deponent begs repentance and he extends remorse and begs unqualified pardon from this Hon'ble Court if anything spoken, demonstrated or done by him which is tantamount unreasonable or undisciplined on his part. He always obeyed the orders issued by this Hon'ble Court and complied with in letter and spirit and he has made always frantic endeavour to dignify the judicial system and his office from his girt coast of his heart and he can never speak or show any gesture which is against the dignity or majesty of this Hon'ble Court.

11. That the applicant begs unconditional apology from this Hon'ble Court regarding the observation made against him in the order dated 18.11.2019 and he extends assurance that such thing will never happen in future. It is settled law that this Hon'ble Court may invoke the inherent power to wipe off the remark/observation made against the judicial officer. Hence, the above said application is being preferred invoking the provisions of Section 151 of Code, 1908.

As also considering his assurance, undertaking and unconditional apology contained in paragraph 11 as quoted above, we are persuaded to expunge the adverse remarks contained in the order dated 18.11.2019 relating to the petitioner starting with the words we asked a question to him and ending with the words and even requested this Court to initiate appropriate action against the officer. The applicant has remained under suspension for more than a year.

He has realized his mistake; therefore, we see no reason to allow the aforesaid remarks to continue against him any further in view of what has been stated hereinabove. The same shall be treated as expunged and shall not be used against the applicant- Manoj Kumar Shukla in his career. As regards the disciplinary proceedings pending against him, the consequences shall follow accordingly as per law.

We have also counselled the judicial officer not to repeat what he did before the Court on the dates mentioned hereinabove. We hope and trust that he shall henceforth not only perform his judicial duties with diligence and sincerity but shall also follow the decorum and courtesies, which are required to be observed vis-a-vis his juniors, his colleagues, as also the superior officers. He once again assures us that he shall observe these etiquettes not only against judicial officers and judges but also against the Members of the Bar. We accordingly, allow the application in the aforesaid terms.

It is therefore imperative for every litigant, officer or subordinate Judge who has been directed to appear before the Court to behave honorably in the Court and maintain calm & solace while addressing the Court. As runs the Italian proverb Anger can be an Expensive Luxury. Do not let Anger ruin your life; relationship & career- maintain decorum & human courtesies.

Written By: Inder Chand Jain
Ph no: 8279945021, Email: [email protected]

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