Judicial Officers should act like high priests…High Court

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Rajesh Pandey

While observing that if there exist a temple of justice, the judicial officers must act like its high priests, the Allahabad High Court upheld the dismissal of a judicial officer accused of dowry demand and attempting to influence a junior judge in a personal case

Dismissing a writ petition filed by Umesh Kumar Sirohi, an additional district judge, who was removed from service, a division bench comprising of Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh and Justice Donadi Ramesh said, “Any transgression committed by a judicial officer to extract benefit for himself or those to whom he may be closely related would always be dealt with severely”.

 

In the present writ petition, the petitioner has challenged the penalty order passed by the state government dated April 16, 2021, communicated to the petitioner by the registrar(judicial)(confidential), high court Allahabad vide letter dated May 28, 2021, whereby the petitioner – then serving as

 

additional district and sessions judge, Lalitpur was removed from service with immediate effect.

 

The court added that a judicial officer who defiles his office merits no mercy.

 

“Once the ‘bad fish’ is identified, it may not be retained in the ‘tank’. No room may ever exist and no margin of error may be permitted as may allow any possibility for a judicial officer to seek to influence another judicial officer in exercise of judicial function. If there exist a temple of justice, the judicial officers must act like its high priests who must not only conduct the rituals involving discharge of their duties on the dais but they must zealously guard the purity of the temple itself,” the court said.

 

The two chargesheets were issued against the petition by the administrative side of the high court in 2016 and 2017. In the first chargesheet, he was accused of demanding dowry for the marriage of his brother (also a judge) and inflicting an injury on his own hand as a conspiracy to implicate his brother’s wife and her family.

 

Sirohi’s wife had registered a police complaint in this regard against the sister-in-law and her family members, leading to registration of a case against them.

 

Another allegation against Sirohi and his brother was that they had tried to influence the investigating officer in the matter by misusing their official position.

 

In the second charge sheet, it was alleged that Sirohi had tried to influence an additional chief judicial magistrate in the proceedings of the case registered by his wife. He was also accused of making false allegations of bias against the then district judge, Meerut.

 

In 2020, the full court of the High Court accepted the inquiry reports against Sirohi and recommended his dismissal from service. The state accepted the recommendation, leading to his removal from service, which is under challenge in the present writ petition.

 

After hearing the arguments and examining the records, the court concluded that a case of most serious misconduct had been made out against Sirohi.

 

The court noted that charges alleging efforts to influence the investigating officer and demand of dowry were found proved.

 

With respect to the case lodged by Sirohi’s wife, the court said no material had been produced to doubt the “allegation of exaggeration of the real occurrence”.

 

The court found the disciplinary inquiry in departmental inquiry to be fair and proper. With regard to the another inquiry against him, the court said enough material was brought on record to show that Sirohi had made efforts to influence another judicial officer during the course of a judicial proceeding.

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