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Ultimate decision of Judicial Officer in case does not matter while deciding misconduct - it is decision making process which matters; SC.

Supreme Court of India


The SC {Sadhna Chaudhary v. State of U.P. & Anr} holds that had the charge been specific that the decision­ making process was effectuated by extraneous considerations, then the correctness of the   appellant’s conclusions   probably   would   not   have   mattered   as much. However, it was held that a perusal of the charges makes it evident that the exclusive cause of enquiry, inference of dishonesty as well as imposition of penalty was only on the basis of the conclusion of enhancement of compensation. Further, held that given how the challenge to one of those two orders had been turned down at the High Court stage, and the other was both affirmed and furthered in principle by this Court, the very foundation of the charges no longer survives against the Judicial Officer.

It was also held that there is no fault in the proposition that the end result of adjudication does not matter, and only whether the delinquent officer had taken illegal gratification (monetary or otherwise) or had been swayed by extraneous considerations while conducting the process is of relevance. It was held, indeed, many­ a ­times it is possible that a judicial officer can indulge in conduct unbecoming of his office whilst at the same time   giving   an   order,   the   result   of   which   is   legally   sound.  It was held that such unbecoming conduct can either be in the form of a judge taking a case out of turn, delaying hearings through adjournments, seeking bribes to give parties their legal dues etc. None of these necessarily need to affect   the   outcome.   However, it was held that   in   the   present   case,   a perusal   of   the   chargesheet   shows   that   no   such   allegation   of   the process having been vitiated has been made against the appellant.

It was further held that there is no explicit mention of any extraneous consideration being actually received or of unbecoming conduct on the part of the appellant. Instead, the very basis of the finding of ‘misbehaviour’ is the end result itself, which as per the High Court was so shocking that it gave rise to a natural suspicion as to the integrity and honesty of the appellant. Although this might be right in a vacuum, however, it was held given how the end result itself has been untouched by superior courts and instead in one of the two cases, the compensation only increased, no such   inference   can   be   made.   Thus,   the   entire   case   against   the appellant collapses like a house of cards.

In the present case, the appeal was preferred by Sadhana Chaudhary, being aggrieved, against an order dated 12.12.2018 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad by which her writ petition, seeking judicial review of her dismissal from the Uttar Pradesh Higher Judicial Services by Respondent No. 1, had been rejected. The appeal was allowed by the SC by granting reinstatement with  consequential   benefits   including   retiral benefits to the appellant/ judicial officer.

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