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While suspending the entire order passed by Justice Rakesh Kumar on the state of corruption in the judicial system, an 11-Judge Bench of the Patna High Court has observed that the “uncharity unleashed” by Justice Kumar appeared to be an outcome of “personal prejudice” as the “utterances and overtures” were “full of anguish tending towards vengeance” and not “reform“.
“A sudden leap in the sky through an approach of gaining yellow page fame appears to be one of the motives behind the pronouncement“, the Bench said.
Clarifying that they should not be misunderstood to be insensitive or averse to the concerns expressed by Justice Rakesh Kumar, the 11-Judge Bench remarked that it was their “onerous duty” to not allow any irreparable damage by an individual acting on private prejudices.
“..we believe that in the discharge of our onerous duty to live and stand by the oath that we have taken, we should not hesitate in taking prompt action and allow the recurrence of any such irreparable damaging judicial acts so as to undermine the whole judicial system on the strength of an individual’s private prejudices founded on his perception of past history and relentless obsessions that appear to have been expressed in a language that is not only brine, but is malicious, contumacious, demeaning and completely insensitive to the living and dead alike.”
The Bench also opined that the order was “not akin to judicial conduct of a constitutional functionary” as it went “to the extent of imputing personal motives and casting insinuations on all those who are past or even the present.”
The 11-Judge Bench comprising the Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justices Vikash Jain, Chakradhari Sharan Singh, Prabhat Kumar Jha, Anjana Mishra, Ashutosh Kumar, Birendra Kumar, Vinod Kumar Sinha, Anil Kumar Upadhyay, Rajeev Ranjan Prasad and Sanjay Kumar was constituted suo motu after taking judicial notice of the print and social media publications of the content of the order passed by Justice Rakesh Kumar.
The 11-judge Bench at the outset noted that the order by Justice Rakesh Kumar was passed in a matter which had been disposed of on March 23, 2018. Despite, the proceedings having terminated in 2018, the single judge got the matter listed before him suo motu on August 28 and passed a judicial order.
The 11-judge Bench opined that by taking up the disposed of anticipatory bail plea filed by former IAS officer KP Ramaiah in connection with the multi-crore Bihar Mahadalit Vikas Mission fund scam, Justice Rakesh Kumar committed “the gravest of error” as he assumed a jurisdiction which was not available to him under any law.
After recording the statement of the Court master on how the matter came to be listed before Justice Rakesh Kumar, the Court concluded that there was no written order nor any application nor any proceeding which could justify the listing of the case.
“In the absence of any judicial proceeding pending or otherwise, there was no occasion for the learned Single Judge to have assumed an authority which he otherwise did not possess on the subject matter either under the Patna High Court Rules or even under the Code of Criminal Procedure.”
The order passed by the Bench further records that even the lawyers i.e. Advocate General Lalit Kishore, ASGI SD Sanjay, Senior Advocates YV Giri, Yogesh Chandra Verma, Chairman of the Coordination Committee of the three Bar Associations and Additional Advocate General Anjani Kumar, who were “unfortunately present” when the order was dictated by Justice Rakesh Kumar also “expressed their concern and anguish” and were of the opinion that the order did “not deserve to be sustained“.
“The atmosphere of the Court is engulfed in a pall of gloom as if this bench is dictating its own reference, but then that is a compulsion, as extraordinary situations require extraordinary remedies.“, it said.
The Bench held that Justice Rakesh Kumar acted completely coram non judice and the order was thus a total nullity in the eyes of law.
“The learned Single Judge has stepped out far ahead and has set an inglorious benchmark in the history of the Patna High Court by wielding his pen like an unmerciful sword as that of a committed revolutionary, who has set out to change the course of history by flouting settled standards of judicial propriety and the sobriety expected of a High Court Judge. The language of the news that has spread like wild fire, is clearly instigating, enough to pollute the readers mind and disrupt healthy social thinking. The tenor and terminology of the expression may not be literally abusive, but are certainly defamatory, uncouth and uncivil.“
While extracting the “offending portions“, the Bench observed that reference to Justice Rakesh Kumar’s experience as the CBI Standing Counsel, the Allahabad High Court, complaint in a Sub Divisional Court, bungalows allotted to the High Court Judges, the administrative proceedings in disciplinary matters etc in the order had no nexus to the subject matter before him.
“By a strange reason or logic he has drawn an inference about protection being given to the officers of the Subordinate Judiciary by the High Court. The comment is preposterous and with no basis.“, the Bench remarked.
The Bench thus concluded that the order passed by Justice Rakesh Kumar was a result of “some personal prejudice“, pronounced with the motive of gaining fame.
“This sort of determined judicial oratory, which is more in the nature of street- sloganeering and high pitched rhetoric is not meant to sound a judicial reform, but to belittle others with whom the learned Single Judge appears to have some personal grudge or prejudice- may be for reasons of professional envy in the past, caste prejudice or on account of some idiosyncrasies which the learned Judge may himself be aware of.
Personal carping and unceremonious comments on all and sundry alike seems to be drowned in some sort of personal belief of the learned Judge that whatever he has perceived from his experience is all 24-carat truth, and the rest of the world, except himself, has created all the misery around.”, it said.
The Bench added that the entire order was a “burning example” of the violations of principles of natural justice, judicial impropriety and a “malicious tirade in the name of some crusade“.
In the end, remarking that the independence of judiciary had an insegregable and inseparable link with its credibility, the Court stated,
“A Judge functioning at any level has dignity in the eyes of public and credibility of the entire system is dependent on the use of dignified language, sustained restraint, moderation and sobriety..
..To cast a slur and to figuratively assassinate your own brethren should be avoided in all judicial pronouncements but the pride of the learned single Judge has manifested itself so profusely, forgetting the Bible that who judges others, condemns himself and a word spoken is an arrow let fly.”
The order passed by Justice Rakesh Kumar was thus suspended with the direction that neither the file of the case shall not be placed before Justice Rakesh Kumar nor would any directions issued by him be implemented.
Read the Order: