Independence & Fearlessness Of Judiciary Not Only Expected From Superior Courts, But Also From District Judiciary: SC

Hon’ble Court of Justice






Appellant (s)


Respondent (s)





Judgement By




This is a landmark judgement upholding the belief & importance of a fearless & independent judiciary, to create a rule of law, without which there cannot be a strong democracy.  This fearlessness & independence in functioning is not only the bastion of superior courts, but equally applicable to District judiciary.

Role of district level courts are of much significance as they directly interface with huge number of litigants, many of them cannot afford to come to High Court of Supreme Court. For such litigants, the last word is the judgement delivered by Magistrate or the best, by a Sessions Judge.

Such operational scenario of judiciary necessitates that the district level courts are free from any pressure and can decide cases bases solely on facts and file.

 Article 235 of the constitution of India vests control of subordinate courts to High Court as well as granting it necessary powers as protector and guardians also.

One different occasions & instances, the Honorable Supreme Court has written down criteria for on which action can be taken against judicial officers. But the honorable Supreme Court has also directed High Courts on several occasions preventing actions against judicial officers in case wrong orders are passed. The apex court judiciary bench is aware that to err is human, and none of the judges who held judicial office have passed wrong order.

A wrong order should not be necessitating a disciplinary action unless there is evidence that the wrong orders have been passed for extraneous reasons and not because of the reasons on the file.


Previous Judgement References:

  • Referring to the observation of court in Ishwar Chand Jain vs. High Court of Punjab & Haryana, it had been taken a note on protecting the honest judicial officers, from local adversaries and anonymous petitions in mofussil courts. If High Court encourages anonymous complaints to hold the field the subordinate judiciary will not be able to administer justice in an independent and honest manner.

In this case, the apex court has no doubt in mind that the resolution passed by the Bar Association against the appellant was wholly unjustified, and the complaints made by Shri Mehlawat and others were motivated which did not deserve any credit. Even the vigilance Judge after holding inquiry did not record any finding that the appellant was guilty of any corrupt motive or that he had not acted judicially. All that was said against him was that he had acted improperly in granting adjournments.

 Thereafter, following the dicta laid down in Union of India & Ors. Vs. A.N. Saxena2 and Union of India & Ors. Vs. K.K. Dhawan3, this Court in P.C. Joshi Vs. State of U.P. & Ors.4 the apex court has noted as following

The words of caution are given in K.K. Dhawan case and A.N. Saxena case that merely because the order is wrong or the action taken could have been different does not warrant initiation of disciplinary proceedings against the judicial officer. In spite of such caution, it is unfortunate that the High Court has chosen to initiate (1992) 3 SCC 124 (1993) 2 SCC 56 (2001) 6 SCC 491 disciplinary proceedings against the appellant in this case.

In Ramesh Chander Singh Vs. High Court of Allahabad  & Anr.5, a three-judge Bench of this Court, after considering the entire law on the subject, including the authorities referred to above, clearly disapproved the practice of initiating disciplinary proceedings against the officers of the district judiciary merely because the judgment/orders passed by them are wrong.

 In Ramesh Chander Singh Vs. High Court of Allahabad  & Anr.5, a three-judge Bench of this Court, after considering the entire law on the subject, including the authorities referred to above, clearly disapproved the practice of initiating disciplinary proceedings against the officers of the district judiciary merely because the judgment/orders passed by them are wrong.

 In the case of Zunjarrao Bhikaji Nagarkar v. Union of India , the apex court t held that wrong exercise of jurisdiction by a quasi-judicial authority or mistake of law or wrong interpretation of law cannot be the basis for initiating disciplinary proceeding.

Making adverse comments against subordinate judicial officers and subjecting them to severe disciplinary proceedings would ultimately harm the judicial system at the grass-root level


In the Context of Present Case --

  1. Undoubtedly, if there is a prima facie material or evidence to show reckless misconduct of any judicial officer while discharging his duties, the High Court will be entitled to initiate disciplinary action against him. Such materials providing the recklessness shall be evident from the orders and also be placed on course of disciplinary procedure.
  2. In the present case, there were two charges against appellant ( who was a judicial officer):
    1. Charge 1 : Sri Krishna Prasad Verma while functioning as Additional Distt. & Sessions Judge, Chapra granted bail to two persons.  Earlier bail petitions of both the accused were rejected by the hon'ble court The allegation on the  Addl Dist & Session judge was that he acted under extraneous consideration which tantamount to gross judicial impropriety, judicial indiscipline, lack of integrity, gross misconduct and an act unbecoming of a Judicial Officer
    2. Charge 2: Sri Krishna Prasad Verma while functioning as Additional District and Sessions Judge, Chapra with an intent to acquited Raju Mistry, the main accused under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 closed the proceeding in great haste resulting in his  acquittal of Raju . The conduct of the judge was claimed to be unbecoming of a judicial officer

Action after Allegation --

  1. In the Charge 1 :
      1. Additional public prosecutor representing the state hasn’t opposed the prayer of the accused. In absence of opposition, the Judge normally grants bail.
      2. As the appellant has not taken the notice of High Court order of rejecting the bail of the accused, it amounts to negligent as the officer didn’t read through the entire file. But when it was brought to notice of the appellant that he hadn’t taken note of the high court order while granting bail, the appellant cancelled the bail granted to all the accused, within less than two months of notice.  Therefore, the appellant has corrected his mistake.
  1. In the Charge 2:
  1. In the case of 'Narcotic Drug & Psycotropic Substances Act' the appellant has closed the evidence of prosecution resulting in material witness not being examined, consequently the accused was acquitted.  As per the allegation, the appellant did not send any communication to Superintendent of Police, District Magistrate and other for production of witness. 
  2. The above-mentioned allegation becomes baseless that there is no provision in 'Criminal Procedure Code' that sessions judge will be seeking witness. Producing the witness is the responsibility of prosecution.
  3. Even in this case, interestingly, the Public Prosecutor had made a note on the side of the daily order-sheet that he is unable to produce the witnesses so the evidence may be closed


The apex court concluded the following (as summary ) :

  • We again reiterate that unless there are clear-cut allegations of misconduct, extraneous influences, gratification of any kind etc., disciplinary proceedings should not be initiated merely on the basis that a wrong order has been passed by the judicial officer or merely on the ground that the judicial order is incorrect.
  • In view of the above discussion, we allow the appeal, set aside the judgment of the High Court and quash all the orders passed against the delinquent officer. He is directed to be given all consequential benefits on or before 31.12.2019

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