SC Criticises Former Madras HC judge for releasing Judgment in Criminal case 5 months after Retiring

The Supreme Court has criticised a former judge of the Madras High Court for pronouncing a one-line order in a criminal case and releasing the detailed judgement five months after he retired from service.

The top court said that retaining the file of a case for five months after demitting office was an act of gross impropriety.

Setting aside the order of the high court, a bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan said the operative part of the order was pronounced on April 17, 2017.

Five weeks were available to the judge for releasing the reasoned judgment till the date on which he demitted office, it said.

“However, the detailed judgment running into more than 250 pages has come out after a lapse of five months from the date on which the judge demitted the office. Thus, it is obvious that even after the learned judge demitted the office, he assigned reasons and made the judgment ready.

“According to us, retaining file of a case for a period of five months after demitting the office is an act of gross impropriety on the part of the learned judge. We cannot countenance what has been done in this case,” the bench said.

Justice T Mathivanan demitted office on May 26, 2017, and the detailed judgment in the case was made available on October 23 that year.

Quoting Lord Hewart, the apex court said, “Justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done.”

“What has been done in this case is contrary to what Lord Hewart said. We cannot support such acts of impropriety and, therefore, in our view, the only option for this court is to set aside the impugned judgment and remit the cases to the high court for a fresh decision,” the bench said, setting aside the judgment.

“Needless to add that we have made no adjudication on the merits of the controversy and all issues are left open to be decided by the high court,” it added.

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