Ajit Kumar vs. State of Jharkhand (Supreme Court)

DATE: (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: March 10, 2012 (Date of publication)

Click here to download the judgement (ajit_kumar_judge_outsource_judgements_dismissal.pdf)

Judge alleged to have “outsourced” judgements can be dismissed without opportunity of hearing or enquiry

The appellant was appointed sub-ordinate Judge in the Garhwa Civil Court. The Inspecting Judge inspected the records of the Civil Court and submitted a confidential report to the Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court that the appellant did not prepare judgments on his own but got it prepared by some body else before delivering the judgments. The Chief Justice referred the matter to the Full Court. The Full Court resolved that the appellant be recommended for removal from service without any enquiry as it was felt that it was not practicable in the interest of the institution to hold an inquiry since it may lead to the question of validity of several judgments rendered by him. Pursuant to that resolution, the Governor exercised power under proviso (b) to Article 311(2) of the Constitution and removed the appellant from service. This was unsuccessfully challenged before the High Court. In appeal before the Supreme Court, it was argued that an enquiry for the purpose of removal of a judicial officer could not be dispensed with. It was also claimed that there was no evidence to show that the appellant was guilty of any misconduct as alleged. HELD dismissing the appeal:

(i) Under the “doctrine of pleasure” recognized under Article 310, all civil posts under the Government are held at the pleasure of the Government and are terminable at its will. Under Articles 310 and 311, public servants are given protection from being dismissed, removed or reduced in rank without holding a proper inquiry or giving a hearing. Exceptions to Article 311 have been provided that the said Article shall not apply to such employees who have been punished for conviction in a criminal case, where inquiry is not practicable to be held for reasons to be recorded in writing or where the President or the Governor as the case may be is satisfied that such an inquiry is not to be held in the interest of the security of the State. The power to dispense with an enquiry is an absolute power of the disciplinary authority who after following the procedure laid down therein can resort to such extra ordinary power provided it follows the pre-conditions laid down therein meaningfully and effectively;

(ii) On facts, the allegation against the Judge was that he did not prepare judgments on his own but got it prepared through some body else. The view of the High Court that it is not possible to hold an enquiry and that holding of such enquiry should be dispensed with in view of the fact that if an enquiry is held the same may lead to the question of validity of several judgments rendered by the Judge is a legal and valid ground for not holding an enquiry. There was also no necessity for giving the Judge any opportunity of hearing before removal from service.

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