A lower court judge can be promoted to higher echelons only on the basis of the assessment of his/ her work and conduct, the Delhi High Court said on Monday.
Justice BD Ahmed and VK Jain said this while dismissing a petition filed by a subordinate court judge (name withheld), questioning his downgrading from B+ in 2006 and 2007 to B for 2008, affecting his promotion prospects, by an inspecting judge of the high court (who oversees performance) in the annual confidential report (ACR).
While deciding on the issue, the court considered various damaging allegations against the subordinate court judge, including questions on his integrity.
"It is clear if a judicial officer has a particular grading for a year, it does not mean that he must get the same grade next year. The grading can be higher or lower depending on the assessment of his work and conduct in the course of the year," the judges said.
The court said even if the allegations about the judge's integrity were ignored, he was found weak on other aspects.
"In the present case, the inspecting judge has examined all the aspects of the matter. Even if we put aside his remarks with regard to integrity and discipline, just on the petitioner's knowledge of law and procedure and quality of his judgments, a grading of 'B' cannot be regarded as unfair or arbitrary," the court added.
Citing a 2001 judgment, the court said even in the absence of proper complaints on the integrity of the judge, if verbal repeated complaints or on the basis of discreet enquiries, the general impression created in the minds of those making enquiries or the Full Court is that concerned judicial officer does not carry a good reputation, it may form appropriate 'material' for the Full Court (meeting of all judges of HC) while recording ACR of a judicial officer.