Observing that a judicial officer should have behavioural standards of extra-ordinary quality, the Bombay high court (HC) has upheld the dismissal of a chief judicial magistrate from Nanded for developing close relations with a woman advocate and passing orders in her favour.
A division bench of justice AS Oka and AK Menon was hearing a petition filed by the magistrate challenging his dismissal order passed in 2004 by the disciplinary authority comprising chief justice of the Bombay HC and other judges. The order was accepted by the state government.
In March 2001, the magistrate was charged for brazenly abusing his office, which amounts to grave misconduct unbecoming of a judicial officer.
According to the allegations, the petitioner developed close proximity with a lady advocate and favoured her with various orders. The petitioner has been charged with arbitrarily and without jurisdiction ordering the release of the woman advocate's brothers who were in jail.
The petitioner denied the allegation of proximity with the lady advocate and also that he had passed arbitrary orders without application of mind.
The high court, however, after going through the facts and evidence in the case, opined that no interference is required to be made in the dismissal order.
"In our view, the penalty imposed is completely justified. The petitioner was a judicial officer. The standards, which are to be observed and maintained by a judicial officer ought to be of an extra-ordinary quality. The allegations against the petitioner in the instant case were extremely serious. As chief judicial magistrate, he was obliged to maintain dignity of the judicial service. This was a matter of paramount importance," the bench said.
"In the instant case, we have no manner of doubt that the conduct of the petitioner in the matters that were brought before him were completely unjustified, lacking in credibility revealing obvious dishonesty, lack of integrity and a questionable character, especially so in the light of the allegations of proximity with a member of the bar," the court said.
Observing that it shocks the conscience of this court that a responsible officer holding the position of chief judicial magistrate has behaved in this manned, the bench said "time has come to send a message that such serious instances of misconduct cannot be treated with kid gloves. Time has come for the gloves to come off. Looking at the gross misconduct, no leniency can be shown."