Involvement of Sitting Judges of Higher Judiciary in the Case of Sexual Harassment: Applicability of In-House Procedure.
Bench: Jagdish Singh Khehar, Arun Mishra.
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 792 of 2014
As the proceedings against the sitting judges of Justice of Hon’ble Higher Judiciary being sensitive are required to be kept as inaccessible to the third parties and should also kept out of the public domain. Highlighting the conduct of the sitting judges or otherwise in the public domain, is not permissible. And therefore, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, in its various judgements considered the significance of the “In-House Procedure”, which has been proved to be an established means for inquiring into allegations levelled against a judge of superior courts, through his peers. The ‘In-House procedure’ is a medium to determine the efficiency of alleged conducts and as being a proved measure, the procedure can serve for impeachment of the offender-Judges under Article 124.
The present case is one, where petitioner being an Additional and Session Judge alleged to had been sexually harassed by Judge of High Court concerned. As such the ‘In-House procedure’ which is applicable to the sitting judges of High Court, was sought to set in motion by forwarding a complaint, which was filed against the Respondent-Justice and received by the Chief Justice of India, to the Chief Justice of High Court. The Chief Justice of High Court is required under such ‘In-House Procedure’ to determine that whether such any prima facie case is made out which requires a deeper probe, after investigating the matter in first stage of the Investigation process. However, the Chief Justice of the High Court constituted the ‘Two-Judges Committee’ and required that committee to record statements of witnesses to hold an inquiry into the dispute as such the Chief Justice of the High Court had exceeded his authority provided under ‘In-House Procedure’. Moreover, the Chief Justice of High Court has engaged the Colleague Judges of the same High Court in the committee, which has also resulted in violation of provisions of ‘In-House procedure’. Thus, considering aforesaid, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has set aside the procedure which was adopted by the Chief Justice of High Court and required the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India to deal with the matter afresh as it is actually to be determined by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India only.
by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.
See Original Judgement-Additional District and Sessions Judge Vs Registrar General, High Court of MP and Others