Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Apex court pulls up K’taka judge for indiscipline

Virtually Shuts Him Up For Berating CJ Dinakaran
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday yellow carded Justice D V Shylendra Kumar for his intemperate observations and interim orders berating Karnataka high court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran and said they were in defiance of the model code of conduct for judges framed by the apex court in 1997.

The SC also stayed all interim orders passed by the bench headed by Justice Kumar to show Justice Dinakaran in poor light during the hearing of a tax-related matter. The SC made it clear to the judge — famous for blogging his views about deficiencies in judiciary — that the CJ, as the head of the HC, had the sole prerogative to list matters before benches.
An SC vacation bench comprising Justices Deepak Verma and K S Radhakrishnan said Justice Kumar would do well to read SC’s December 2, 1997, judgment in the State of Rajasthan vs Prakash Chand case laying down guidelines about how judges should conduct themselves while deciding cases.
Hearing a petition filed by Karnataka HC against the intemperate language and observations of Justice Kumar, the bench stayed all interim orders passed by the HC bench though it clarified that there was no stay on the bench hearing the matter and deciding it.
Before parting with the matter, Justice Verma fondly recalled how he used to have coffee regularly with Justice Kumar and promised in court that he would continue to do so. When he asked for views of senior advocate Uday Holla, who argued for the HC, the counsel said observations of the bench pained him a lot as it harmed the judiciary’s image. However, he too disclosed his closeness to Justice Kumar saying he was his classmate.
But Justice Verma was his stern self during hearing of the HC petition. After dictating the order staying the HC bench’s interim orders and reminding Justice Kumar about the guidelines, he said, “This should serve the purpose and good sense must prevail.”Referring to Justice Kumar’s earlier blogs, Justice Verma said it virtually brought tears to his eyes. Justice Radhakrishnan said Justice Kumar’s observations were in complete breach of the 1997 judgment.
In the 13-year-old judgment dealing with Justice B J Sethna, an errant judge of Rajasthan HC, the apex court had warned, “All actions of a judge must be judicious in character. Erosion of credibility of the judiciary in the public mind for whatever reason is the greatest threat to the independence of judiciary. Eternal vigilance by the judges to guard against any such latent internal danger is, therefore, necessary lest we suffer from self-inflicted mortal wounds.”
It had also laid down guidelines, which included:
a. Administrative control of the HC vests in the chief justice alone. On the judicial side, however, he is only the first among equals
b. CJ is the master of the roster. He alone has the prerogative to constitute benches of the court and allocate cases to the benches so constituted
c. Judges of the HC can only do that work as is allotted to them by the CJ or under his directions
d. A judge cannot pick and choose any case pending in the HC and assign the same to himself or themselves for disposal without appropriate directions of the CJe. No judge or judges can give direction to the registry for listing any case before him or them which runs counter to the directions given by the CJ.
All these points framed by the SC appears to have been breached by Justice Kumar who, the HC claimed, questioned the authority of the CJ in listing the matter before another bench.

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