In a significant move, the Chief Justice of J&K and Ladakh High Court Justice Pankaj Mithal issued a circular restricting the judicial officers of subordinate courts from offering gifts, receiving, seeing off, or arranging trips/ hotels for visiting High Court Judges and Chief Justices.
As per the circular/guidelines, only a senior non-judicial Administrative Officer will receive/see off, or provide other protocol to a visiting High Court judge or Chief Justice.
The guidelines also state that if a visiting High Court Judge/Chief Justice is desirous of calling meetings with judicial officers then it should be done after court hours.
The guidelines make it clear that judicial officers cannot arrange hotels/trips or offer gifts to visiting High Court judges.
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The circular also mentions that in case a District Judge or Cheif Judicial Magistrate makes arrangements for visiting High Court judges then the bill will be directly paid by the High Court and the said judicial officer cannot use personal funds.
Organising functions for the visiting judges by judicial officers have also been banned and such functions can only be organised at the government’s cost and that too after written directions.
The circular also states that from now on judicial officers cannot be assigned the duty of Liasion Officer and the same shall be undertaken by Senior Administrative Officer, Mobile Magistrate or Leave Reserve Officer.
The circular makes it clear that any violation of the guidelines mentioned above will be treated as gross misconduct and might lead to disciplinary action against the erring judicial officer.