The Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court recently allowed an application filed by a district judge for expunction of adverse remarks made against him in a 2019 court order (Mohd. Irshad v. Smt. Anjum Bano).
A Bench of Justices Rajan Roy and Saurabh Lavania allowed the application and accepted the apology tendered by Principal Judge at Saharanpur, Manoj Kumar Shukla.
The judge was previously hauled up by the Allahabad High Court for wrongly applying the Hindu Marriage Act in a case between Muslim parties.
When he was summoned to appear before the High Court to explain his order, he began questioning the working of the High Court in a “loud voice” and started shouting in louder voice before the Members of the Bar present in the courtroom.
This prompted the Court to pass adverse remarks against the judge in an order dated November 18, 2019. The judge was also placed under suspension for his outburst. The 2019 order states,
“The conduct of the Judicial Officer in full view of the members of the Bar was not only disrespectful but was an attempt to show this Court in poor light. Our Constitutional Scheme recognizes and provides for a hierarchical system of Courts in achieving the goal of dispensation of justice. In such a hierarchy, if a Judge of a subordinate court fails to conduct himself in a manner expected of the Judicial Officer, it is not only bound to lower the dignity and majesty of the Court but it may even tend to shake the faith and trust of the litigant who is the most important stake holder in the justice dispensation system…”
Earlier this month, the judge filed an affidavit tendering an apology before the Court and submitted that he will maintain the high dignity and discipline of his office.
The judge also filed an application seeking expunction of the adverse remarks made by the High Court in its 2019 order. In the application, he stated that a momentary lapse of control over his faculties had led to the incident in question. Taking note of these submissions, the Court observed,
“He says that he has an unblemished record otherwise. Moreover, he also says that he shall never repeat what he did before this Court on 18.11.2019 and earlier before another Bench. He says that his entire career is at stake. He has been superseded by officers junior to him, who have been promoted as District Judge.”
In its order passed this month, the Court noted that the applicant has remained under suspension for more than a year and has since realized his mistake.
“We have also counselled the judicial officer not to repeat what he did before the Court on the dates mentioned herein above. We hope and trust that he shall henceforth not only perform his judicial duties with diligence and sincerity but shall also follow the decorum and courtesies, which are required to be observed vis-a-vis his juniors, his colleagues, as also the superior officers…”
The Court thus allowed the application and expunged the remarks made in the November 2019 order.
It also took note of the affidavit, along with the various statements made by the judicial officer and held,
“We are persuaded to expunge the adverse remarks contained in the order dated 18.11.2019 relating to the petitioner starting with the words “we asked a question to him” and ending with the words “and even requested this Court to initiate appropriate action against the officer. The same shall be treated as expunged and shall not be used against the applicant Manoj Kumar Shukla in his career.”
With regard to the disciplinary proceedings pending against him, the Court said that the consequences shall follow accordingly as per law.
While parting with its order, the Court said that it expects the judicial officer not to repeat what he did before the Court.
“We hope and trust that he shall henceforth not only perform his judicial duties with diligence and sincerity but shall also follow the decorum and courtesies, which are required to be observed vis-a-vis his juniors, his colleagues, as also the superior officers.”