No judge can claim he never passed wrong order: SC

Supreme Court of India

To err is human and any one of us, who held judicial office, can't claim that we have never passed a wrong order, the Supreme Court has said.

The top court asked the high court, which exercised administrative control over district judiciary, not to take disciplinary action against judicial officers for merely passing wrong orders, unless there was a clear cut allegation of misconduct, extraneous influences or gratification of any kind.

“No doubt, there has to be zero tolerance for corruption and if there are allegations of corruption, misconduct or of acts unbecoming a judicial officer, these must be dealt with strictly. However, if wrong orders are passed that should not lead to 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,” a bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose said.

The bench, however, explained that it was in no way indicating that if a judicial officer passes a wrong order, then no action is to be taken.

If the judicial officer passed orders against settled legal norms, the High Court should place it in service record and consider it in denying promotion and if he continued to pass such orders, he can be compulsorily retired, the court added.

The top court allowed an appeal filed by Krishna Prasad Verma, then Additional District and Sessions Judge, Chhapra; against the Patna High Court's orders for adverse action against him for granting bail to a murder accused and acquitting an accused in a drug trafficking case.

In both the cases, the court noted the enquiry officer could not bring about any extraneous reason against the judge for passing those orders.

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