Monday, September 29, 2014

Judge gets justice after 21 years

The Gujarat high court has asked the state government to pay former judge R K Divyeshwar for the years of service he lost after he was dismissed allegedly for turning up 'drunk' at a female judge's house.

The high court held that dismissal from service was too harsh a punishment for going to a woman colleague's house uninvited. The court reduced the penalty to withholding of three increments but allowed him to continue as a judicial officer.

However, the state government and the high court administration were not ready to give up and carried on the legal battle till September 2014 when a division bench rejected their review petition too.

According to case details, Divyeshwar was posted at Anand as judicial magistrate first class (JMFC). On November 14, 1991, he surprised the then JMFC Petlad S C Srivastava by arriving at her official residence in Petlad.

The female judge complained about this visit five days later before the district judge, saying that Divyeshwar appeared drunk and had tried to misbehave with her. Divyeshwar was charged with trying to misbehave with a woman judge, leaving Anand without prior permission and conduct unbecoming of a judicial officer.

Following an inquiry, Divyeshwar was held guilty and dismissed in 1993. He, however, resisted and filed a petition in the high court which came to the conclusion another judge, who lived in the same neighbourhood as Srivastava and was a witness in the inquiry, could not confidently say that Divyeshwar was drunk. The high court also disbelieved the allegation that Divyeshwar had tried to misbehave with the woman judge.

"Acts of the petitioner, at the most, amount to technical misconduct which does not warrant the extreme penalty of dismissal," the high court said.

The court ordered Divyeshwar's reinstatement to the post and directed that he be paid the financial remuneration for lost years of service.

But the high court administration insisted that the dismissed judge not be paid because he had started practicing as a lawyer after his dismissal.

This dispute lasted for another 16 years and a division bench rejected the authorities' appeal. Then the authorities opted for a review which was also dismissed by the high court recently.

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