It is high time that stakeholders in the judiciary refrain from making allegations against judicial officers without any basis, the Madras High Court recently remarked during the hearing of a case (A Lakshmanan v. State).
Since the Bar and the Bench are two sides of the same coin, lawyers must discourage their clients from making such baseless allegations, the Court added. The order passed by Justice K Murali Shankar, who sits at the Madurai Bench, reads:
“… it is high time for the stakeholders of the Judiciary to refrain from making allegations or levelling charges against the Judicial officers without any basis or iota of truth. More importantly, since the bar and the bench being the two sides of the same coin, the bar must discourage their clients and the litigant from raising baseless allegations and they must desist from incorporating the same in the pleadings.”
The Court made the observation while dealing with a revision petition that involved allegations that a trial court had dismissed an application without hearing both sides sufficiently.
The petitioner before the High Court stood accused of various offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The petitioner’s counsel initially alleged before the High Court that an application under Section 91 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was dismissed by the trial court hearing the corruption case without hearing the petitioner’s side.
Section 91 CrPC deals with the production of any document or thing necessary or desirable for the purposes of any investigation, inquiry, trial or other proceedings.
The State, through the Additional Public Prosecutor, asserted that the trial judge had passed the impugned order only after hearing both sides.
The petitioner’s counsel immediately clarified that he meant that the petitioner was not given sufficient opportunity to argue his case in physical mode. The counsel added that he was not blaming or making any other allegation against the judicial officer.
“The immediate response of the learned counsel in withdrawing the said allegation is very much appreciable“, the Court recorded in response, adding that baseless attacks against judicial officers must be discouraged.
As far as the the petitioner’s grievance that he was not heard in physical court before the dismissal of the Section 91 CrPC application, the High Court observed that he had not made any objection earlier to the trial court holding the enquiry virtually.
“During the Covid Pandemic period, the entire Country was working virtually. Since the petitioner has not raised any objection before the trial Court, he is estopped from canvassing or raising such a stand before this Court. The very lodging of a complaint that the petitioner was not given an opportunity to argue elaborately physically is very much against the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court permitting virtual hearing of the cases and the directions of this Court issued through various circulars during the Pandemic period for conducting the cases virtually“, the Court said.
The Court proceeded to dismiss the revision petition itself, after finding that the petitioner had not provided sufficient material to show that the documents sought to be produced were relevant, necessary, or desirable for the trial.
“It is settled law that Section 91 Cr.P.C., does not give an absolute right for the accused to ask for summoning any document and it is only when the Court on a consideration of facts and circumstances, considers that the production of the document or thing sought for is necessary or desirable for the purpose of the trial, enquiry or proceedings would summon the same, but not otherwise. Hence, it is to be only seen as to whether the trial Court has judiciously and judicially exercised its discretion”, the High Court explained.
The Court further expressed agreement with the State’s stance that the petitioner had filed the Section 91 CrPC application only to protract the trial, more so since he had not explained why he had not preferred the application earlier.
It was pointed out that after the registration of the FIR in 2005, the final report had been filed in the matter in 2007. The case had been pending for 13 years when the Court took cognizance of the matter, the judge observed.
In this backdrop, the revision petition was dismissed on merits.