19 August 2020

A Judge is judged not only by his quality of judgments but also by the quality and purity of his character

Qualities of a good judge:

What cannot be ignored is also the fact that once when the petitioner being appointed as a member of judicial service unlike other employment or profession, judicial service is in itself a class apart. Judges in the judicial service is not merely in employment, nor are the judges mere employees, they are the holders of a post by which they exercise judicial powers. Their office is one with great trust and responsibility. Any act of injustice or misdeed by a judicial officer would lead to a disastrous and deleterious situation having grave adverse consequence.[Para No.26]

    It is always expected that a judicial officer discharges his work and duties in tranquillity and he has to behave and conduct in a manner as if he is a hermit.[Para No.27]

A Judge is judged not only by his quality of judgments but also by the quality and purity of his character
    So far as the conduct part is concerned, the Judges should always maintain and enforce a high standard of conduct which he should personally observe. It is always expected that a judicial officer shall apart from maintaining high level of integrity, should have great judicial discipline and should always try to avoid impropriety. Judge should always be sensitive to the situation around him and should avoid being overactive or over-reactive. It is always expected from a Judge to perform himself most diligently and should not get himself engaged in behavior that is harassing, abusive, prejudiced or biased.[Para No.28]

    Talking on the elements of judicial behaviour it has always been said that Judges shall remain accountable for their actions and decisions. A Judge's official conduct should be free from impropriety and the appearance of impropriety; he should avoid infractions of law; and his personal behaviour, not only upon the Bench and in the performance of judicial duties, but also in his everyday life, should be beyond reproach. Accordingly an act of the Judge whether in official or on personal capacity which erodes the credibility of the judicial institution has to be avoided.[Para No.29]

    Judges play a pivotal part in the administration of justice and further the trial Judge has a greater role to play in the dispensation of justice. The conduct of every judicial officer should be above reproach. He should be conscientious , studious, comprehensive, courteous, patient, punctual, just, impartial, indifferent to private, political or partisan influences; he should administer justice according to law and deal with his appointment as a public trust; he should neither allow other affairs or his private interest to interfere with the prompt and proper performance of his judicial duties nor should he administer the office for the purpose of advancing his personal ambitions or increasing his popularity. The nature of the judicial office and the independence of the judiciary, personal conduct and official conduct of men who preside over this the most important branch of state has to be approached with care and caution.[Para No.30]

    One must understand that Judges are not employees of anybody. As member of the judiciary a Judge exercises sovereign judicial functions while exercising the judicial powers conferred upon him. It is therefore essential that the personality of the Judge, which in the ultimate analysis, his behaviour and attitude, is developed to optimise the efficiency of the justice delivery system. At the same time what is paramount is that the image of the establishment or the institution in particular and the judiciary in general should not to be tarnished in any manner at any point of time while discharging and displaying his conduct as a Judge both inside the courtroom as well as when he's in public.[Para No.31]

    In one of the most recent decisions reported in 2020 SCC online SC 307 in the case of Sadhna Chaudhary Vs. State of UP and Another, the Hon'ble Supreme Court has dealt with decisions dealing on the topic of the behaviour of a Judge and the standard of discipline which he has to maintain. It would be relevant at this juncture to refer to a couple of citations referred to in the said judgment. The Supreme Court referring to the case of Shrirang Yadavrao Waghmare vs State of Maharashtra 2019 (9) SCC 144, had laid down the principles often reiterated so far as the conduct of a judicial officer is concerned. In the said case of Sadhna Chaudhary the Supreme Court quoting certain citations referred to in the case of Shriranga Yadavrao (Supra), had quoted paragraph 5,6,7 & 8 which are relevant for the facts of the present case also and which for ready reference is being reproduced here in under:
"5. The first and foremost quality required in a Judge is integrity. The need of integrity in the judiciary is much higher than in other institutions. The judiciary is an institution whose foundations are based on honesty and integrity. It is, therefore, necessary that judicial officers should possess the sterling quality of integrity. This Court in Tarak Singh v. Jyoti Basu [Tarak Singh v. Jyoti Basu, MANU/SC/0975/2004 MANU/SC/0975/2004 : Integrity is the hallmark of judicial discipline, apart from others. It is high time the judiciary took utmost care to see that the temple of justice does not crack from inside, which will lead to a catastrophe in the justice-delivery system resulting in the failure of public confidence in the system. It must be remembered that woodpeckers inside pose a larger threat than the storm outside.
6. The behaviour of a Judge has to be of an exacting standard, both inside and outside the court. This Court in Daya Shankar v. High Court of Allahabad [Daya Shankar v. High Court of Allahabad, MANU/SC/0620/1987 MANU/SC/0620/1987 : (1987) 3 SCC 1 : 1987 SCC (L & S) 132] held thus:
Judicial officers cannot have two standards, one in the court and another outside the court. They must have only one standard of rectitude, honesty and integrity. They cannot act even remotely unworthy of the office they occupy.
7. Judges are also public servants. A Judge should always remember that he is there to serve the public. A Judge is judged not only by his quality of judgments but also by the quality and purity of his character. Impeccable integrity should be reflected both in public and personal life of a Judge. One who stands in judgments over others should be incorruptible. That is the high standard which is expected of Judges.
8. Judges must remember that they are not merely employees but hold high public office. In R.C. Chandel v. High Court of M.P. [R.C. Chandel v. High Court of M.P.M ANU/SC/0639/2012 MANU/ SC/0639/2012 : (2012) 8 SCC 58 : (2012) 4 SCC (Civ) 343 : (2012) 3 SCC (Cri.) 782 : (2012) 2 SCC (L & S) 469], this Court held that the standard of conduct expected of a Judge is much higher than that of an ordinary person. The following observations of this Court are relevant:
    "29. Judicial service is not an ordinary government service and the Judges are not employees as such. Judges hold the public office; their function is one of the essential functions of the State. In discharge of their functions and duties, the Judges represent the State. The office that a Judge holds is an office of public trust. A Judge must be a person of impeccable integrity and unimpeachable independence. He must be honest to the core with high moral values.
    When a litigant enters the courtroom, he must feel secured that the Judge before whom his matter has come, would deliver justice impartially and uninfluenced by any consideration. The standard of conduct expected of a Judge is much higher than an ordinary man. This is no excuse that since the standards in the society have fallen, the Judges who are drawn from the society cannot be expected to have high standards and ethical firmness required of a Judge. A Judge, like Caesar's wife, must be above suspicion. The credibility of the judicial system is dependent upon the Judges who man it. For a democracy to thrive and the Rule of law to survive, justice system and the judicial process have to be strong and every Judge must discharge his judicial functions with integrity, impartiality and intellectual honesty. "[Para No.32]

    In the case of Sadhna Chaudhary (supra) the supreme court further held in paragraph 19 as under :-
"19. Even furthermore, there are no two ways with the proposition that Judges, like Caesar's wife, must be above suspicion. Judicial officers do discharge a very sensitive and important constitutional role. They not only keep in check excesses of the executive, safeguard citizens' rights and maintain law and order. Instead, they support the very framework of civilised society. It is courts, which uphold the law and ensure its enforcement. They instil trust of the constitutional order in people, and ensure the majesty of law and adherence to its principles. Courts hence prevent people from resorting to their animalistic instincts, and instead provide them with a gentler and more-civilised alternative of resolving disputes. In getting people to obey their dicta, Courts do not make use of guns or other (dis)incentives, but instead rely on the strength of their reasoning and a certain trust and respect in the minds of the general populace. Hence, it is necessary that any corruption or deviation from judicial propriety by the guardians of law themselves, be dealt with sternly and swiftly. "[Para No.36]

Chattisgarh High Court

Prabhakar Gwal
State Of Chhattisgarh

Decided on 17/08/2020

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