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Sexist remarks by judicial officer – SC upholds compulsory retirement

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New Delhi, Feb 27, 2020 –

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld Jharkhand High Court’s order to send one judicial member to compulsory retirement after at least 10 women complained that he made “highly sexist” remarks during his lectures to civil service probationers.

A bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta dismissed the petitions filed by two judicial officers — Arun Kumar Gupta and Raj Nandan Rai, both facing compulsory retirement — who filed an appeal in the apex court challenging the decision taken on administrative ground by the Jharkhand High Court.

The apex court observed that “the standard of integrity and probity expected from judicial officers is much higher than that expected from other officers.”

The bench noted that the senior judges of the Jharkhand HC, who were the members of the screening committee and the standing committee, took a considered and well-reasoned decision.

“Unless there are allegations of mala fide intention or the facts are so glaring that the decision of compulsory retirement is unsupportable, this court would not exercise its power of judicial review,” added the bench.

In Gupta’s case, the bench noted that there were two very serious allegations. The first pertains to his tenure as Deputy Director, Administrative Training Institute, Ranchi, when as many as 10 women civil service probationers alleged that he used objectionable language, which embarrassed the women officials.

“We have perused the complaints which were filed with the reply and the common refrain is that the language used by Gupta during his lectures was highly sexist,” said the court.

In the second case, Gupta had physically hurt a washerman by placing a hot iron on his head for allegedly not ironing his clothes properly. “It would be pertinent to mention that the Principal District Judge had reported to the High Court that the victim had personally approached him immediately after the occurrence and he (the Principal District Judge) found that the victim had sustained burn injuries and he got the victim treated,” the top court said.

In Rai’s case, the apex court noted that his record on many counts was not good at all. “There are also allegations against him of having granted bail for illegal gratification and substance has been found in this allegation in the report of the Judicial Commissioner, Ranchi (who is equivalent to the Principal District Judge),” the top court said.

The apex court concluded that in its opinion, these are not fit cases to interfere with the said decisions (of the high court). “A judicial officer’s integrity must be of a higher order and even a single aberration is not permitted,” the Supreme Court said.

The main contentions raised on behalf of the petitioners were that their retirement was not in the public interest, as their entire service record, especially the contemporaneous record, has not been taken into consideration.

Also, the petitioners have been granted various promotions which would have the effect of washing off their previous adverse entries.  (Agency)

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