Taking a serious view of the fact that a person in the "rowdy list" was appointed as a district judge, the Supreme Court has directed all High Courts to henceforth ensure that police verification was carried out before making appointments to the judiciary.
A Bench of Justices BS Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar also ruled that it would be mandatory for the High Courts to maintain the annual confidential reports (ACRs) of the judges to ensure transparency and also provide fair treatment to the incumbents.
"It is a matter of concern, as we are of the considered view, that timely action on behalf of the High Court would have avoided this uncalled for litigation as it would have been a matter of great doubt whether the appellant could at all be inducted into the service in face of the admitted position that the name of the appellant was stated to be on rowdy list at the relevant time," the Bench observed.
The apex court passed the judgement while dismissing the appeal of Khazia Mohammed Muzammil who challenged the Karnataka High Court's decision to discharge him from service as he was found "unsuitable" for the post.
Muzammil had joined the Karnataka Higher Judicial Service on May 15, 1996 on probation. After three years in service, he was discharged for being "unsuitable" for the post. Aggrieved, he appealed in the apex court.
However, the apex court after pursuing the records expressed shock at the Karnataka High Court's decision to appoint Muzammil on probation despite his name being in the "rowdy list" of police. It noted that the same High Court had earlier in 2000 refused to delete his name from the list.
According to the police record, Muzammil was General Secretary of an organisation called Majlis-Isa-o-Tanzim and had allegedly harboured criminals involved in serious crimes like murder and communal riots.
There was a specific charge against him for delivering provocative communal speeches, which allegedly contributed to aggravating communal disturbance in Bhatkal in the year 1993.
"Normally, the person, with such antecedents, will hardly be permitted to join service of the Government and, particularly, the post of a judge.
"The High Court on the administrative side also appears to have dealt with the matter in a very casual manner. It was a matter of serious concern for the High Court as he was being appointed as an Additional District and Sessions Judge and would have remained as such for a number of years. It was expected of the Government as well as the High Court to have the character verification report before the appointment letter was issued," the apex court observed.