Monday, April 8, 2013

The judge could not escape penalty merely because direct evidence could not be obtained.

AHMEDABAD: A judge has been thrown out of judicial service for adopting different yardsticks for accused facing similar charges in one case. Though corruption charges were not exactly proved against him, he has been given marching orders.

While upholding compulsory retirement of the judge, Gujarat high court (HC) observed that judicial service is not a service in the sense of an employment as is commonly understood. Judges are discharging their functions while exercising the sovereign judicial power of the state. Their honesty and integrity are expected to be beyond doubt. It should be reflected in their overall reputation. There is no manner of doubt that the nature of judicial service is such that it cannot afford to suffer continuance in service of persons of doubtful integrity or who have lost their utility.

Civil judge (senior division), P G Vyas lost his job for allowing three persons including two builders to go scot free before trial, and ordering criminal proceedings against two others. All were facing similar charges.

This case invited corruption charges against Vyas, who was posted at Mehsana in 1996. The detailed inquiry exonerated him of corruption charges, but he was held responsible for dereliction in discharging judicial functions and for misconduct and acting in a manner unbecoming of a judicial officer. HC awarded him major penalty for this and asked him to go for compulsory retirement in August 2009. This decision was taken by the HC's administrative side.

Complaining against the severity of punishment, Vyas moved HC on its judicial side by filing a petition. He contended that once corruption charges were not proved against him, he should not have been punished.

The bench of Justice Jayant Patel and Justice Mohinder Pal said that the judge could not escape penalty merely because direct evidence could not be obtained. The bench noticed the different treatment meted out by the judge to builders and chief officer of the municipality by discharging them, and by ordering for trial of two employees. The court also noticed that all the five were facing similar charges. "...He was not a novice or a junior judge since he had by then put in nearly 16 years of service," the court said.

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