|`Error of judgment shouldn't be attributed to improper motives'|
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has held that a wrong judgment or wrong interpretation of law by a judicial officer in a case cannot be a ground for initiating disciplinary proceedings or awarding punishment to the judicial officer.
In the instant case, appellant Ramesh Chander Singh, a judicial officer in Uttar Pradesh, was charged with accepting a bribe for granting bail in a case. An inquiry was held and it came to light that the respective courts rejected the bail applications twice on merits.
It was alleged that he granted bail on the third application in utter disregard ofjudicial norms and on insufficient grounds and it appeared to be based on extraneous consideration.
The Full Court of the Allahabad High Court imposed a major punishment of withholding two annual increments of the appellant with cumulative effect and subsequently he was reduced to a lower rank.
The High Court dismissed his writ petition challenging the punishment and the present appeal before the Supreme Court was directed against that judgment.
A three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta and Justice D. K. Jain in their ruling said, "This court on several occasions has disapproved of the practice of initiation of disciplinary proceedings against officers of the subordinate judiciary merely because the judgments/orders passed by them are wrong. The appellate and revisional courts have been established and given powers to set aside such orders.
The higher courts after hearing the appeal may modify or set aside erroneous judgments of the lower courts. While taking disciplinary action based on judicial orders, "High Court must take extra care and caution."Justice Balakrishnan said, "Our legal system acknowledges fallibility of judges. It has to be kept in mind that a subordinate judicial officer works mostly in a charged atmosphere. He is under a psychological pressure — contestants and lawyers breathing down his neck.Every error, however gross it may be, should not be attributed to improper motives. The judges of the High Court have a responsibility to ensure judicial discipline and respect for the judiciary from all concerned. No greater damage can be done to the administration of justice and to the confidence of the
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