Kozhikode Principal District and Sessions Judge S Krishnakumar was transferred to a Labor Court in Kollam due to his unwarranted observations in the provocative dress order and subsequent inappropriate approach to cases, the High Court Registrar informed the Kerala High Court last month [S Krishnakumar v State of Kerala]..In response to an appeal moved by the judge against a single-judge's order upholding his transfer, the Registrar General of the Kerala High Court filed an affidavit on October 10 stating that the transfer was done in the general interests of the administration of justice."After considering the unwarranted observations in Crl.M.C. No. 1303/2022 (provocative dress order), having regard to the successive inappropriate approaches made by the officer in dealing with matters of the nature aforesaid, the High court decided to post him in the Labour Court, Kollam, in the general interests of the administration of justice," the affidavit said.Pertinently, the affidavit also said that the judge had passed many orders which had come under scanner including one instance in which he disposed of a Sessions Case after sending WhatsApp message to the accused regarding the posting of the case..The unwarranted observations referred to in the affidavit were part of an order passed by the transferred judge in a sexual harassment case while granting bail to activist Civic Chandran.In the order, the judge had held that sexual harassment case would not prima facie stand if the victim was wearing a “sexually provocative dress”.“In order to attract this Section, there must be a physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures. There must be a demand or request for sexual favours. There must be sexually colored remarks. The photographs produced along with the bail application by the accused would reveal that defacto complainant herself is exposing to dresses which are having some sexual provocative one (sic). So Section 354A will not prima facie stand against the accused," the order had said.The High Court had subsequently expunged those remarks after the State challenged the same before the High Court.A decision was also taken by the High Court on the administrative side to transfer the judge. The judge had then approached the High Court by way of the present petition challenging the transfer. .A division bench of the High Court then stayed the judge's transfer while seeking the High Court registrar's response..In his affidavit opposing the appeal, the High Court Registrar clarified that the transfer in this case is not a punishment transfer, but one effected under the exigencies of service. He also pointed out that by way of the same administrative order, four other judicial officers were transferred and not just judge Krishnakumar. The affidavit stated that Judge-in-Charge of Kozhikode Judicial District had noted that various judicial orders passed by the appellant had invited scathing and severe criticisms from the general public as well as the academicians. Therefore, the Judge-in-charge called for a report from the registry and also considered many of the orders and judgments passed by the appellant. About the "provocative dress" order and a previous order granting anticipatory bail to the same accused in a case involving offences under the SC/ST (Prevention of Attrocities) Act, the affidavit said,"The observation made by the officer appears to be quite unwarranted, in the light of the settled principles on the subject. That apart, the above Judicial Officer had earlier granted pre arrest bail to the same accused in Crime No. 483/2022 of Koyilandy Police Station, in which the offences alleged inter alia included offences under Sections 3(1)(w)(i) and 3(2)(va) of the SC/ST (PA) Act, 1989.....These orders point to the cussedness of the approach of the officer subjecting the entire judiciary in a poor light among the general public which would lead to the erosion of the public confidence in the institution." .Apart from these two orders, some other judgments passed by the judge Krishnakumar were also pointed out in the Registrar's affidavit.When the appellant was serving as a Special Judge (Marad Case), Kozhikode, in a session case, he directed the State Government to pay compensation to the tune of ₹1 Lakh to the accused and to recover the amount from the Investigating Officer and initiate departmental action as well. This was set aside by a Division Bench of the High Court which observed, "Sobriety is one of the most important and non-negotiable quality of a judge. A Judge's decision to initiate penal action against persons or authorities whose conduct comes into consideration in a case will be interpreted as an impulsive action, unsuitable for a judicious and sagacious mind expected of a judge, when it was taken devoid of any factual or legal foundation and actuated by personal predilections. We therefore, find the direction issued by the trial Judge to take action against P.Ws, 35 and 38 by way of initiating criminal prosecution and departmental action' are devoid of any legal merit." When, the appellant while serving as Additional Sessions Judge, Kollam, he disposed of a Sessions Case after sending WhatsApp message to the accused regarding the posting of the case. While setting aside this order, the Kerala High Court observed, "needless to point out that judicial impartiality and honesty are sacrosanct. Zeal to dispose as many cases as possible is a laudable quality for a Judge, especially at a time when we talk about docket explosion. But, it shall never be at the cost of quality of the judgment. Legal rights of a party shall not be a casuality in a hurry to dispose of cases." .According to the Registrar, these decisions were not disclosed by the Registry when the proposal was placed before the Administrative Committee while considering the appellant for being posted as the Principal District Judge, Kozhikode. Referring to the precedents set by the Superme Court and the Kerala High Court, the Registrar stated that the transfer for inefficiency to a post borne in the same cadre, need not be preceded by departmental enquiry and cannot be interfered with. Therefore, he sought for dismissal of the appeal.