Sunday, June 5, 2022

Delhi HC Transfers Case From The Judge Who Gave Personal Mobile Number and Met One of the Parties in Chambers

The Delhi High Court transferred a case from the court of a family judge who shared his personal contact number with the parties and met one of them in his chambers, observing that judges should not act in any way that raises even the slightest doubt in the minds of litigants and lawyers.
According to Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma, judges must constantly remind themselves that their actions are being watched and noted by litigants.

“Unfortunately, the judge’s conduct in sharing his personal mobile number with both parties and admittedly meeting one of the parties in the chamber has unnecessarily given a cause of reasonable apprehension of bias,” the Court wrote in its decision.

Justice Sharma was hearing a case in which a mother challenged a family court order in Saket that barred her from taking her minor child out of Delhi. A subsequent order to the same effect was challenged as well.

According to the petition, the family judge decided the guardianship petition and granted the father visitation rights while the proceedings were pending before the High Court. He was permitted to see the child during the week and on weekends and for several days during long weekends and holidays.

 The High Court ruled that the judge should not have shared his phone number with the parties, and that it is a well-established principle that justice must not only be done, but must also appear to have been done.

“The judge’s conduct during the judicial proceedings should be above board,” the order stated.

According to Justice Sharma, while mere adverse orders are insufficient to invoke the power of transfer, allegations of bias must be evaluated on the basis of a reasonable fear of bias.
The Court overturned the family court’s orders and reinstated the guardianship petition. The decision was directed to the family court’s Principal Judge. The father has been granted three hours of visitation on Wednesdays and Fridays, eight hours on weekends, and four hours on the child’s birthday.

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