Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud on Wednesday voiced his concern about the letter written by Allahabad High Court judge, Justice Gautam Chowdhary seeking explanation from railway authorities for 'not meeting his requirements during a train journey.
In a communication addressed to Chief Justices of all the High Courts, CJI Chandrachud expressed displeasure over the letter that went viral on social media.
He said that the said letter has given rise to 'justifiable' criticism of the judiciary and emphasised that judges must ensure that the 'protocol facilities' that they get due to their position as judge must not be seen as a 'manifestation of power and authority'.
"This communication has given rise to justifiable disquiet both within and outside the Judiciary. Protocol "facilities" which are made available to Judges should not be utilised to assert a claim to privilege which sets them apart from society or as a manifestation of power or authority," the letter by the CJI said.
A wise exercise of judicial authority both on and off the Bench is what sustains the credibility and legitimacy of the judiciary and the confidence which society has in judges, the CJI said.
The CJ also batted for 'self-reflection' and counselling within the judiciary.
"Protocol facilities which are made available to judges should not be used in a manner that is liable to result in inconvenience to others or to bring public criticism of the judiciary," the CJI's communication said.
As regards the letter in question written by the High Court judge to the Railways, the CJI clarified that a judge of the High Court does not possess disciplinary jurisdiction over railway personnel.
"Hence there was no occasion for an officer of the (Allahabad) High Court to call for an explanation from the railway personnel 'to be placed before his lordship for his kind perusal.' Evidently, the officer of the High Court was carrying out a direction of the Judge of the High Court in this instance," the CJI's letter said.
Justice Gautam Chowdhary has called for an explanation from railway officials for allegedly not meeting his requirements on a recent train journey he undertook with his spouse.
A letter in this regard was sent by the Registrar (Protocol) of the Allahabad High Court to the General Manager of the North Central Railway, Prayagraj on July 14.
Justice Chowdhary had sought an explanation from the General Manager of the North Central Railway, Prayagraj, for the poor experience, he had, during a recent journey on the Purushotam Express in the First Class AC Coach from New Delhi to Prayagraj.
The train was apparently late by over 3 hours and no Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel were found in the coach to meet the requirements of the judge in spite of intimating the authorities concerned.
Moreover, no pantry car workers attended to the judge for providing refreshments and a call to the pantry car manager went unanswered, the letter said.
The letter went viral on social media and the netizens criticised not only the judge but also the judiciary.