Orissa HC upholds the compulsory retirement of a judicial officer

Recently, the High Court of Orissa (Cuttack Bench) refused to quash a judicial officer’s compulsory retirement. While doing so, the Court made pertinent observations on high integrity standards expected from a judicial officer.

The Division bench headed by Hon’ble Justice Dr S Muralidhar stated that judicial officers were different from other civil servants, and even a single blot in their service record makes them vulnerable. The Court observed that the object of compulsory retirement was to weed out the corrupt, dishonest and deadwood.

It was further observed that even if an officer has sound knowledge of the law but lacks integrity, then it would hamper the smooth functioning of the judiciary,

After going through the facts of the case, the Court concluded that there was no reason to view that the Government of Orissa Law Department’s order for compulsory retirement was stigmatic, malafide or unwarranted.

Background:

The court was dealing with a judicial officer’s petition to quash an order for compulsory retirement that was issued against him.

The Court noted that several complaints were received against him throughout his career, and two disciplinary proceedings were initiated against him for grave charges. The Bench also took note of another entry that stated that his integrity was doubtful for 2006 and 2005.

As per the Court, even though the officer received an out of turn promotion, is career left a lot to be desired.

It was also pointed out that Rule 44 of applicable Rules of 2007 authorises the High Court to retire (in the public interest) any member who has attained the age of 50 years.

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Decision

The Bench ruled that there was sufficient material on record to justify the order passed against the judicial officer in the case. The Court declined to interfere with the order of compulsory retirement.

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