The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a court officer’s plea challenging his suspension by the Patna High Court, presumably for delivering a series of quick judgments, including in a POCSO case where he concluded the trial in a single day.
A bench of judges UU Lalit and SR Bhat issued opinions, including to the State of Bihar, on the plea filed by Shashi Kant Rai, another District and Sessions Judge (ADJ) in Araria.
Rai claimed in his plea that he “reasonably believes” there is “institutional bias” against him as he concludes the trial in a POCSO (The Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act) case involving the rape of a six-year-old child. girl in one day. He cited another judgment in which he imposed the death sentence on a defendant in four working days of trial, and said these verdicts were widely reported in the media and appreciated by the government and the public.
“Notice of issue returnable in two weeks,” ordered the bench.
“The response to the motion will set out the actions taken pursuant to the currently contested stay order and record all relevant documents,” the court said.
During the hearing, the bench observed that there are several judgments of the supreme court where it stated that the sentence should not be pronounced on the same day (after the conclusion of the trial).
Judge Lalit recalled that a judgment had been given in a case where a person had been sentenced to death within nine days and that the higher court had reversed this order and sent the case back to the magistrates’ court for a new trial.
“Because in our view it will be a travesty of justice that you do not even give adequate notice, adequate opportunity to the person who is ultimately going to be sentenced to death,” the bench said, adding that the judgment had been rendered. in 2019.
Lead attorney Vikas Singh, representing Rai, said the petitioner was also denied a promotion.
He said the judgment in the POCSO case involving the rape of a six-year-old girl, in which the trial ended in a single day and the defendant was sentenced to life, was not stayed in call.
The judge said a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court is already dealing with the broader issue of what mitigating circumstances are considered before handing down death sentences.
“So we actually tried to design modalities and say very well that at least you’re going to check the criminal record, check the probation officer. Now this type of assessment requires a reasoned approach to the matter” , said the bench.
“There are countless Supreme Court judgments on which the issue of sentencing should not be raised on the same day,” he said.
The Supreme Court observed that cases involving the death penalty are serious because they concern the life and death of a person.
He said there were many cases where the sentencing order and the sentencing order were issued on the same day, and in at least half a dozen verdicts the death sentence was commuted only for this motive (of haste).
Singh referred to a judgment by the Supreme Court and said the court ruled that a junior judicial officer should not be subject to disciplinary proceedings for an error in judgement.
“Correct, understandable. Misjudgment is a different matter. Here, misjudgment is not the issue,” the bench said. The plea alleged that the 8 February 2022 “silence” order issued by the High Court keeping the petitioner under suspension with immediate effect is “grossly arbitrary and breaches the principles of natural justice”. A silent order is an order in which the reasons for arriving at a conclusion or finding have not been stated.
“There is no reliance placed on any element to arrive at the said decision. The order merely indicates that disciplinary proceedings are pending against the applicant and, therefore, in the exercise of powers under the sub -Rule (1) of Rule 6 of the Bihar Judicial Service (Classification, Review and Appeal) Rules 2020 places the petitioner under suspension,” he said.
The plea asserted that the claimant had only sought consideration for restoration of seniority based on the new valuation system introduced by the High Court, which issued a show cause notice and then suspended him without give reasons simply to question the process of evaluating judgments. .
“This Written Petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India is filed by the Petitioner requesting the annulment of the Restraining Order of No Speaking dated 8th February 2022 issued by the Patna High Court and the alleged disciplinary proceedings referred to therein, being malicious, illegal, arbitrary, violating the fundamental rights of the petitioner as enshrined in Articles 14 and 21, as well as against the principles of natural justice,” he said. he stated.The applicant had joined the Bihar Judicial Service in 2007.
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