‘Drop everything against him’: SC to Patna HC on judge who fast-tracked POCSO cases

New Delhi, Aug 8 : The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Patna High Court to drop all disciplinary proceedings against a suspended Additional Sessions Judge from Bihar for deciding POCSO cases within days.

A bench of Justices U.U. Lalit and Ravindra Bhat told the counsel representing the high court that “Our sincere advice is to drop everything. If you don’t want to, we’ll go threadbare into it..”

The bench said unless there are allegations of corruption and malafide, only then disciplinary action is justified. Advocate Gaurav Agarwal, representing the high court, submitted that he would inform the high court.

The bench noted that there shouldn’t be an over zealousness to take action against the judge, as it would send a bad message to other judicial officers, who are performing their duties efficiently, and also anything against the judicial officer would be a reflection on the high court as well.

It said that the judge was asked to submit his written statement in defence within 10 days, after receiving the memorandum dated August 5, 2022, containing articles of charge along with enclosures, which was served upon the petitioner judge.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing the petitioner judge, submitted that his client is willing to submit the statement of defence. The bench noted that the high court should consider the suspended judge’s written statement.

After hearing arguments, the top court scheduled the matter for further hearing on August 18. The high court’s counsel submitted that an appropriate decision, after considering the entirety of the matter, including the petitioner’s written response, would be taken within two days.

On July 29, the top court issued notice to the Registrar General and the state government on the claim by Shashi Kant Rai that his suspension order and the pending disciplinary proceedings against him recorded no reasons. Rai had moved the top court through advocate Nitin Saluja.

Rai, an Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADJ) in Araria, sought quashing of the non-speaking suspension order dated February 8, issued by the Patna High Court and the purported disciplinary proceedings as mentioned therein, being malicious, illegal, and arbitrary.

In the previous hearing, the top court observed that the approach of a judge – who sentenced a convict to capital punishment within four working days and decided a POCSO case and awarded life term to the convict within a working day – cannot be termed commendable. (IANS)

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