Disciplinary Proceedings against Conduct of Judicial Officer

Disciplinary Proceedings against Conduct of Judicial Officer Case Laws Civil Law Employment & Incentives Judicial Service Tribunal Judicial Staff Knowledge - Civil Law Lahore High Court Litigation & Arbitration Service Appeal Solutions - Civil Law Mr. Justice Faisal Zaman Khan in his judgment has decided the issue regarding disciplinary proceedings against conduct of judicial officer in Service Appeal No. 22 of 2011.

1. This appeal under Section 5 of the Punjab Subordinate Judiciary Service Tribunal Act (No.XII of 1991) (Act) has been filed impugning order dated 28.03.2011 by virtue of which major penalty of removal from service was imposed upon the appellant.

2. Succinctly, the facts of the case are that appellant joined the judicial service as a Civil Judge on 01.12.2000. While he was posted at Rawalpindi, in pursuance of a complaint filed by the District Judge, Rawalpindi on 04.02.2010, a preliminary inquiry was conducted, whereupon, on 17.05.2010 a charge-sheet was issued to him on the ground that upon surprise inspection it was found that 341 case files were lying in his chamber in which judgments/orders were typed, but the same were unsigned and in about 50 files no judgments/interim orders were written. Written defense was submitted by the appellant, whereupon, a regular inquiry was held and on 18.10.2010 recommendations were made to remove the appellant from service. Consequent thereto, show cause notice was issued to the appellant and finally on 28.03.2011 order of removal from service was passed. Feeling aggrieved, a review petition was filed by the appellant, which was not decided within a period of 90 days, whereupon present appeal was preferred, whereafter, on 27.07.2013, his review petition was dismissed as having become infructuous (due to filing of the present appeal).

3. Learned counsel for the appellant without commenting on the merits of the case submits that although the charge of inefficiency was established against the appellant, however, the penalty awarded to him does not commensurate with the acts alleged to have been committed by him. He assert that appellant has unblemished service record and for the alleged lapse on his part, which even otherwise did not cause any prejudice to rights of any litigant, cannot be a reason for putting an end to the carrier of a judicial officer. In order to fortify his arguments, he relies on judgments reported as Saeed Ahmad Awan v. Registrar, Lahore High Court, Lahore [2013 PLC (CS) 928], Muhammad Ali S. Bukhari v. Federation of Pakistan through Establishment Secretary, Islamabad and 2 others (2008 SCMR 214) and Secretary to Government of the Punjab, Food Department, Lahore and another v. Javed Iqbal and others (2006 SCMR 1120).

4. On merits, learned counsel submits that in 226 files the judgments/orders were dictated and typed, however, the same could not be signed due to paucity of time and over work. As regards the files in which no orders were available, he submits that appellant did dictate the orders, however, due to lapse of the stenographer working with him, the same were never typed, therefore, he cannot be held responsible for inaction/delinquency of his staff.

5. Contrarily, learned counsel for the respondent submits that in toto there were 356 case files, which were found incomplete during the surprise inspection, for which no plausible explanation has been rendered by the appellant. Apart from the above, the most surprising aspect is that in cases of succession/guardianship, certificates were issued without any formal judgments/orders. Similarly in criminal cases Robkars have been issued for releasing the convicts/offenders, however, no corresponding signed judgments/orders were available. He also emphasizes that if the stenographer working with the appellant was not performing his duties the way he was required to, it was for the appellant to have reported his inefficiency to the competent authority so that necessary proceedings could be initiated against him; that in a casual and cursory manner, appellant has alleged that no prejudice has been caused to the litigants due to his inaction in 356 case files. In view of the above, he submits that the penalty awarded do commensurate with the delinquency attributed to the appellant, therefore, no interference is warranted. To fortify his arguments he relies on judgment reported as Muhammad Mustafa Kamal v. Federation of Pakistan through Secretary Revenue Division/Chairman Federal Board of Revenue, Islamabad and 2 others [2011 PLC (CS) 162].

6. Arguments heard. Record perused. At the very outset, it shall be imperative to provide a resume of case files, which were found incomplete during the surprise inspection, which is also not denied by the learned counsel for the appellant.

7. On perusal of the record and the arguments of the learned counsels following is manifest:

a. That the judgments/orders, which were either not written or not signed, pertain to years 2008 to 2010;

b. According to list attached with the charge-sheet most of the afore-noted judgments/orders have been acted upon/executed [in criminal cases Robkars was issued and the offenders have been released (cases mentioned at Sr. Nos. 1 to 168) and in cases of succession/guardianship certificates have been issued (Sr. Nos.169 to 226)];

c. That the above delinquency/inefficiency has been admitted by the appellant, however, the same has been attributed to rush of work, paucity of time and delinquency on part of the stenographer. Apart from the above, it is also highlighted that no prejudice has been caused to any litigant;

d. That the conduct of the stenographer (if at all he is guilty of inefficiency/misconduct) has not been reported by the appellant to the competent authority for initiation of disciplinary proceedings against him;

e. Delay on part of the appellant by not releasing the judgments/orders within the stipulated time that too for the reasons mentioned above also reflects that appellant apart from being delinquent in performing his judicial duties is also a failure on the administrative side.

8. We are unable to subscribe to the explanation given by the appellant that the un-signed judgments/orders, which were available in the files and are reflected at Sr. Nos.1 to 226, have been acted upon/executed, therefore, no damage has been done.

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