Recently, in one of its orders, the Allahabad High Court at Lucknow observed that moderation, sobriety, and reserve are the most remarkable qualities of a judicial officer, and she/he should never be divorced from them.
In the case, the applicant was a Judicial Magistrate who prayed the Court to quash remarks made by Sessions Judge, Hardoi while setting aside a judgment rendered by the applicant, in a criminal case.
Allahabad High Court held that in such a case, it is relevant to consider the following:-
- Whether the party against whom such remarks are made is present in the Court or had the opportunity to defend himself/herself.
- If there is enough evidence on record to justify such remarks
- If the decision of the case must refer to the conduct of the person.
Hon’ble Justice Alok Mathur also noted that judicial pronouncement should be judicial and must not refer to reserve or petty moderation.
While going through the case, the Bench relied on some Apex Court observations’ where the Supreme Court cautioned High Courts from criticising subordinate judicial officers. In this regard, the Court observed that the Sessions Judge had full powers to re-appreciate the evidence and arrive at a different conclusion. Still, his jurisdiction did not extend to criticising the applicant who was discharging his duties.
The Court opined that the comments reflect the officer’s persona, and he was expected to judge the case and not the author of the judgement.
The Allahabad High Court further held that even though Sessions and District Judges have administrative control over subordinate judicial officers, they don’t have the power of superintendence which only the High Courts have.
While allowing the application for deletion of observations and remarks made against the applicant, the Bench observed that if the Sessions Judge was not happy with the judgement authored by the applicant he had the option of informing Hon’ble Chief Justice or Administrative Judge, but he had absolutely no occasion or need to comment on the applicant.
Title: Alka Pandey vs the State of UP
Case No.: 2389 of 2020
Date of Order:15.12.2020
Coram: Hon’ble Justice Alok Mathur