Madras HC upholds compulsory retirement of judicial officer for alleged misconduct
However, on his representation, the RG by order dated January 23, 2014 informed him that the high court had expunged the remarks.
Chennai: The Madras high court has upheld an order of the state government, compulsorily retiring a Chief Judicial Magistrate, Tiruvannamalai, from service for alleged misconduct, based on the decision of the Full Court of Madras high court.
A division bench comprising Justices R.Subbiah and T.Krishnavalli dismissed the petition filed by R.Naraja, CJM, Tiruvannamalai, challenging the orders of the state government and the Registrar General of the Madras high court.
According to petitioner, while he was in judicial service to his shock and surprise, for the first time, the RG informed him that while recording the Annual Confidential Report as Judicial Magistrate III, Erode, for the period from May 2, 2012 to October 16, 2012 the high court had recorded his reputation to honesty, integrity and impartiality as not satisfactory and under special remarks, it was stated that the officer was to avoid close contact with advocates.
However, on his representation, the RG by order dated January 23, 2014 informed him that the high court had expunged the remarks. While so, he came to know from the reports published in an English daily newspaper, dated March 21, 2018, that he had been sent out of service at the age of 50 years for misconduct pursuant to a resolution passed by the Full Court of this court. On his representation, the Administrative Committee of high court resolved to continue his services beyond the age of 50 years subject to approval of the Full Court. Subsequently, the Full Court unanimously resolved not to extend his service and directed the Registry to address the government to issue necessary orders in that behalf. Based on the same, the state government passed the order, compulsorily retiring him from service in public interest. Aggrieved, he filed the present petition.
The bench said, “On a perusal of the material records, we find that the details of the service particulars like ACR, work done statement, leave availed particulars, vigilance particulars etc., were circulated to the judges comprising of Full Court and finally on March 19, 2018 based on the above particulars and deliberations made in the meeting, a decision was taken by the Full Court by majority voting, specifically resolving not to extend the service of the petitioner beyond the age of 50 years. From the work done statement, it is clear that the petitioner had not reached norms for certain period. Therefore, it cannot be said that the decision taken by the Full Court is without any materials. This decision was taken only in public interest, pursuant to the power conferred under FR.56 (2) and Article 235 of the Constitution of India”. Moreover, it was well settled that order of compulsory retirement was neither a punishment nor a stigma and the principles of natural justice have no role to play in ordering compulsory retirement, the bench added.
The bench said from the narration of the facts, it would be difficult to reach a conclusion that the finding reached by the high court was based on no evidence at all. The necessary conclusion was that the misconduct alleged against the petitioner stands proved. The question then was : what would be the nature of punishment to be imposed in the circumstances? Since the petitioner was a judicial officer and the maintenance of discipline in the judicial service was a paramount matter and since the acceptability of the judgment depends upon the credibility of the conduct, honesty, integrity and character of the officer and since the confidence of the litigant public gets affected or shaken by the lack of integrity and character of the judicial officer, it thinks that the imposition of penalty of dismissal from service was well justified. It does not warrant interference, the bench added.