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SC rues HCs` tendency on summoning officials

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 18:37

New Delhi: Deprecating various High
Courts` tendency to summon senior government officials at the
drop of a hat, the Supreme Court has counselled them to avoid
doing it unless absolutely necessary, saying it would amount
to the misuse of judicial power.

Taking note of repeated summons by a division bench of
the Allahabad High Court to various senior officials of the
Uttar Pradesh government, a bench of justice RV Raveendran and
AK Patnaik of the Supreme Court censured the High Courts`
tendency to seek personal appearance of senior government
officials to attend to "all and sundry matters".

"It is a matter of concern that there is growing trend
among a few judges of various High Courts to routinely and
frequently require the presence of senior government officers,
including those of the level of secretaries, to seek
insignificant clarifications," the bench said.

"The court should desist from calling senior officers
for all and sundry matters as that would amount to the abuse
of judicial power," said the bench, in a recent ruling.

"The senior officers of the government are in-charge
of the administration of the state and have their own busy
schedules," it added.

"Requiring the presence of senior officers of the
government should be as a last resort, in rare and exceptional
cases, where such presence is absolutely necessary," the bench

Pointing out that the High Court has vast powers under
Article 226 of the Constitution, including the power to summon
senior government officials to assist the court in
administration of justice, the bench however added that the
court`s real power lies in common man`s faith and trust in it.

"The real powers of courts is not in passing decrees
and orders, nor in punishing offenders and contemnors, nor in
summoning senior officers, but in the trust, faith and
confidence of common man in judiciary," the bench said.

"Such trust and confidence should not be frittered
away by unnecessary and unwarranted show or exercise of power.
Greater the power, greater should be responsibility in
exercising such powers," the bench counselled.

Spelling out "well-settled norms and procedure" to
summon officials, the bench said that besides summoning
contemnors of courts, the High Courts can also seek the
presence of officials for their "assistance in understanding
complex policy or technical issue."


First Published: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 18:37

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