Like Caesar’s wife, judges must be above suspicion
New Delhi: Observing that like Caesar’s wife, a judge must be above suspicion, the Supreme Court today upheld the Madhya Pradesh government's decision to compulsorily retire a district and sessions judge for unsatisfactory performance.
A bench of justices R M Lodha and Anil R Dave also deplored Judge R C Chandel's conduct of seeking erstwhile Member of Parliament R K Malaviya's help for getting expunged some adverse remarks made by the high court against him in his annual confidential reports.
Malviya, in turn, had obliged him and had written to the Law Ministry on his plea.
"The standard of conduct expected of a judge is much higher than an ordinary man. This is no excuse that since the standards in the society have fallen, the judges who are drawn from the society cannot be expected to have high standards and ethical firmness required of a judge.
"A judge, like Caesar’s wife, must be above suspicion. The credibility of the judicial system is dependent upon the judges who man it.
"For a democracy to thrive and rule of law to survive, justice system and the judicial process have to be strong and every judge must discharge his judicial functions with integrity, impartiality and intellectual honesty," said Justice Lodha, writing the judgement for the bench.
Working as Punna district and sessions judge, Chandel was compulsorily retired from the service on September 13, 2004 in public interest by the Madhya Pradesh government on the state high court's requests.
The decision was taken on the basis of various remarks made against his performance in the annual confidential reports for the years 1993 and 1994.
The apex court said the judges hold office of public trust
and must be honest to the core.
"The office that a judge holds is an office of public trust. A judge must be a person of impeccable integrity and unimpeachable independence. He must be honest to the core with high moral values.
"When a litigant enters the courtroom, he must feel secure that the judge before whom his matter has come, would deliver justice impartially and uninfluenced by any consideration," the apex court said.
The bench termed as "most shocking and unbecoming conduct" of Chandel approaching the MP for expunging the remarks against him.
"The conduct of the appellant in involving an MP and the Ministry of Law and Justice in a matter of the high court concerning an administrative review petition filed by him for expunging adverse remarks in ACRs of 1993 and 1994 is most reprehensible and highly unbecoming of a judicial officer.
"His conduct has tarnished the image of the judiciary and he dis-entitled himself from continuation in judicial service on that count alone.
"A judge is expected not to be influenced by any external pressure and he is also supposed not to exert any influence on others in any administrative or judicial matter.
"On this ground also his writ petition was liable to be dismissed," the bench said.