THE Allahabad High Court on November 18, 2019 was confronted with the alleged misbehavior of a judicial officer Manoj Kumar Shukla, Principal Judge, District- Sultanpur who had been summoned to court in connection with an order he had passed in 2015 in which he registered a case under Section 9of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 though the parties concerned were Muslims.
On an appeal against the order passed by Shukla, the High Court had directed him to appear in person before it to explain under what circumstances, the Original Suit No.85 of 2014 “Mohd. Irshad vs. Smt. Anjum Bano” had been registered under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act.
In compliance with the High Court’s direction, Principal judge, Manoj Kumar Shukla, appeared in person before the High Court and told a division bench of the High Court that at the time of passing of the order dated December 9, 2015; he was not the Principal Judge of District-Sultanpur.
At this point, the High Court asked him who was the Judge concerned at that time of District Sultanpur. Shukla replied-
- He has been unnecessarily called before this Court even when he has not passed the order dated 23.10.2019.
- This Court should not have called the Judicial Officer in such a manner in which he has been called inspite of the fact that he has not passed the said order.
- The Hon’ble Apex Court time and again reminded that a Judicial Officer should not be called before the Court and even then, he has been called by this Court.
He further submitted that such types of mistakes are committed by a Judicial Officer, due to heavy rush of work in the Family Court and such errors are bound to take place as only one Steno (judgment writer) has been provided for writing order/judgment.
The High Court, however, told him that even if there was a heavy rush of work and lack of other infrastructural facilities, Judge was duty-bound to see that whether he was passing the order correctly by applying the correct law.
“However, in loud voice, Shukla questioned about the functioning of the High Court and also started shouting in louder voice before the Members of the Bar who were sitting in the Court”, the High Court said.
Shukla then submitted that in past also, a Bench of High Court consisting of Justice Mateen and after some time he said the other Judge Upadhyay summoned him. The High Court at this point reminded him to take the name of Judge with respect, however, ignoring the said fact, Shukla said that at that time also, he was unnecessarily called for by the High Court and now again he has been unnecessarily called for and he commented adversely on the functioning of this Court.
The High Court then went on to caution him that his attitude and submission may lead to unwarranted consequences and may even affect his future career. However, undeterred with the warning, Principal Judge Shukla went on to say-
- What I have said is correct and I do not care about anything.
- I was appointed in judicial service through the U.P. Public Service Commission.
- You may observe what I have stated before this Court and the manner in which I have made the statement.
A division bench of the High Court comprising Justices Anil Kumar and Saurabh Lavania, thus, recorded in the order-
“we are constrained to observe, that too, with a heavy heart and affliction that the scene created by the Judicial Officer, Sri Manoj Kumar Shukla today inside the Courtroom has diminished the image of Judiciary which was unwarranted and also it manifested disrespect to this Court which is not expected of a Judicial Officer”.
It further noted, “the conduct of the Judicial Officer in full view of the members of the Bar was not only disrespectful but was an attempt to show this Court in poor light. Our Constitutional Scheme recognizes and provides for a hierarchical system of Courts in achieving the goal of the dispensation of justice”.
“In such a hierarchy, if a Judge of a subordinate court fails to conduct himself in a manner expected of the Judicial Officer, it is not only bound to lower the dignity and majesty of the Court but it may even tend to shake the faith and trust of the litigant who is the most important stake holder in the justice dispensation system”, said a division bench.
Taking note of the misdemeanor of Shukla, the High Court ordered to place the entire matter before the Chief Justice of the High Court who, according to the High Court, being the parens patriae needed to be apprised of any such misdemeanor by a Judicial Officer, who in this case, most astonishingly is of the rank of District Judge.