The Punjab and Haryana high court has ruled that an order passed by a judicial officer while discharging judicial functions cannot be made sole basis of recording adverse annual inspection remarks without any other information or material.
The division bench comprising justices Hemant Gupta and Fateh Deep Singh also clarified that under the guise of re-designation, any officer graded "integrity doubtful" could not be reverted to a lower rank without following the procedure contemplated or departmental inquiry for inflicting a major penalty.
The orders came on a petition filed by Dr Sanjeev Arya, a Haryana Civil Service (judicial branch) officer, challenging annual inspection remarks "integrity C-below average" and "integrity doubtful" for the year 2007-08, the period he was posted at Narwana. The officer had also challenged his re-designation (demotion) from additional civil judge (senior division) to civil judge (junior division) on the basis of inspection remarks.
However, allowing Arya's petition, the division bench set aside high court's own orders on administrative side dated August 8, 2012, of re-designating the petitioner. The court also said that recording of the adverse remarks communicated to Arya on October 23, 2008, on the basis of the judicial order passed by him, suffered from patent illegality and thus, was not sustainable in law.
Addressing the reason for recording of adverse remarks against Arya, the court said, "…mere fact that the police remand (in a bail matter) was not granted in respect of an offence said to be committed six years earlier, cannot be said to be a reason so as to invite adverse remarks. The judicial officer, dealing with the numerous cases, has to be given play in joints to have discretion in not granting police remand."
Appearing for Arya, senior advocate Puneet Bali had argued that the reason for recording adverse remarks was not granting the police remand to the accused, though the anticipatory bail had been declined. Bali had contended that the petitioner has excellent reports for the period prior to the time in question and even thereafter.