The Supreme Court has held that judicial officers of “doubtful integrity” in the subordinate judiciary can be made to compulsorily retire from service even before they attain the age of 50 years.
A bench of justice JM Panchal and justice HL Gokhale gave the ruling while upholding the compulsory retirement of three senior civil judges of Delhi’s subordinate judiciary, RS Verma, MS Rohilla and PD Gupta for having “doubtful integrity.”
The apex court said the fundamental rules of the Delhi Higher Judicial Services gave absolute right to order compulsory retirement of such officers on the advice of Delhi high court even before they attain the age of 55 years. “There is nothing in the Delhi Judicial Service Rules or Delhi Higher Judicial Service Rules or the Indian Adminis-trative Service Rules laying down a prohibition that if the case of an officer for compulsory retirement is considered at the age of 50 years, his case cannot be reconsidered till he attains the age of 55 years,” the bench said.
It stated judges were discharging their functions while exercising the sovereign judicial power of the state. “Their honesty and integrity is expected to be beyond doubt. It should be reflected in their overall reputation,” the bench said, holding that the nature of judicial service was such that it could not afford to suffer continuance of persons of doubtful integrity or who lose their utility.