High Court can suo motu question Sessions judge’s unjustified order
J. Venkatesan in THE HINDU
|Only a correctional suggestion was made to administration: Supreme Court|
He didn’t explain why charge under IPC Section 304 was preferred to one under 302 Erroneous order found out during inspection
NEW DELHI: If a sessions judge passes an erroneous or patently unjustified order, the High Court concerned can suo motu question its correctness by an administrative decision, the Supreme Court has held.
A Bench of Justices J.M. Panchal and H.L. Gokhale was dismissing a special leave petition filed by a retired additional sessions judge against an Orissa High Court order, which rejected his contention that the High Court could not suo motu initiate action against him by an administrative decision for the discharge of his judicial duties.
R.S. Mishra, while being an additional sessions judge, discharged an accused in a criminal case for an offence of murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. Instead, he was tried for a lesser offence under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and awarded five-year imprisonment. A judge of the High Court, during an inspection, found out this erroneous order, but the accused had completed his term by then.
Therefore, the judge made certain observations against Mr. Mishra for not framing the charges under Section 302, though the material on record warranted it. As he was not considered for the selection grade, Mr. Mishra took voluntary retirement and challenged the order, pleading for expunction of the remarks. The High Court rejected his petition.
Dismissing the appeal against this order, the Supreme Court said: “In the instant case, a young person had been killed. It was not a case of grave and sudden provocation. The material on record showed that there was an injured eyewitness, and there was the supporting medical report. The material on record could not be said to be self-contradictory or intrinsically unreliable. Thus, there was a prima facie case to frame the charge under Section 302 of the IPC. The reason given for dropping the charge under Section 302 was totally inadequate and untenable, and showed non-application of mind by the appellant to the statements in the charge sheet and the medical record.”
Writing the judgment, Justice Gokhale said: “The [session judge’s] order does not explain why a charge under Section 304 was being preferred to one under Section 302. The impugned [High Court] order contained nothing but a correctional suggestion to the High Court administration, which it has accepted. The appellant was responsible for an unjustified dilution of the charge and, therefore, a thorough checking of his service record was necessary which is what is directed in the impugned order.”
The High Court order did not call for any interference, the Bench said.
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