Ensuring that judges with 'doubtful integrity' do not make the judicial system rotten, the Punjab and Haryana high court has dismissed the petition of former Haryana judge AK Raghav, challenging his premature retirement.
It was in December 2009 that the high court, in its full court meeting, had decided to prematurely retire Raghav, then additional district and sessions judge, after finding his 'integrity doubtful'. Finally, the Haryana government had issued the notification in this regard in January 2010 on the communication sent by the high court.
Raghav had joined judicial services in Haryana as a sub judge-cum-judicial magistrate in 1984 and was promoted to the Haryana superior judicial services in 1997. In the officer's annual confidential report (ACR) for 2006-07, he was graded 'Integrity doubtful'. The petitioner had moved the high court, challenging his compulsory retirement decision in 2011.
Deciding the petition, a division bench comprising justices Hemant Gupta and Fateh Deep Singh said "entire service record of the petitioner was considered appropriate to premature retire him."
The court said the representation against the adverse remarks recorded in the former judicial officer's ACRs were considered by the committee constituted for the purpose and later by the full court and "such consideration cannot be said to be vitiated in any manner."
The court said the petitioner's argument that he had already completed 55 years of age in April 1999, therefore, his services could not be recommended for premature retirement in December 2009, was not tenable. On this, the high court made a reference of a Supreme Court judgment in Rajendra Singh Verma's case, which says, "after 50 years, at any time, the case of an officer can be considered for compulsory retirement."
'Partial towards Bar member'
The counsel representing the high court, Naresh Kumar Joshi, informed the court that the former judge's ACR for 1993-94 had a remark that "he was partial towards a member of the Bar and otherwise too quite approachable" and it was observed that "he should be watched carefully." It was submitted that earlier he was graded 'Below average' in the ACR for 1981-82 and 'Integrity doubtful' in 1988-89, though the same were later upgraded by the administrative committee to 'Satisfactory'.
Apex court order
While deciding the case, the division bench of the high court said the Supreme Court, in its judgment in the case "RC Chandel vs high court of MP" had observed, "In assessing potential for continued useful service of a judicial officer in the system, the high court is required to take into account the entire service record. Overall profile of a judicial officer is the guiding factor. Those of doubtful integrity, questionable reputation and wanting in utility are not entitled to benefit of service after attaining the requisite length of service or age."