Dismissal of latecomer Judge upheld, enquiry not essential to discharge probationer

Bombay High Court: Dismissing an appeal against the order of a probation committee, a Bench comprising of RM Savant and SV Kotwal, JJ. upheld the order of discharging a lower court Judge from service for reportedly turning up late at work on several occasions and violating other judicial norms. In this case, an anonymous complaint was received by the Registry of Court that the petitioner, who was a probationer Civil Judge Junior Division and Judicial Magistrate First Class at Ulhasnagar, was reporting to work late daily and beginning his court between 11.30 am -12 noon. Other allegations against him were that he used to chit chat with lawyers which thereby undermined the confidence of the litigants. It was also alleged that the petitioner discussed about other Judges in the presence of lawyers and carried out court work from his chamber.

Surprise checks were conducted based on the complaint and it was found that the petitioner was missing from work on the first day of the surprise check. It was also established that he was absent for 6 days each in the last 3 months. Subsequently, the Principal District Judge left disparaging remarks with regards to the conduct, character and integrity of the petitioner and he was subsequently dismissed. The petitioner’s lawyer contended that the comments made against her client were stigmatic in nature and were based on unsubstantiated allegations. She also stated that the petitioner was not given an opportunity of hearing to present his case before the probation committee.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the Court quoting the case of Gujarat Steel Tubes Ltd. v. Gujarat Steel Tubes Mazdoor Sabha, (1980) 2 SCC 593 held that having regard to the allegation or suspicion of misconduct that the master/employer may have against the probationer, the employer may not choose to hold an enquiry to discharge the probationer whom the employer is not desirous of keeping. The Court further stated that even if strong language was used by the Principal District Judge against the petitioner, the probation committee still did not find him suitable for continuation of service. [Girish Chandrakant Gosavi v. Chief Secretary, Law and Judiciary Department, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 939, order dated 03-05-2018]

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