The Madras High Court has confirmed the compulsory retirement of a judicial officer because his conduct inside as well as outside the court was assessed to be either poor or bad and his reputation with respect to honesty, integrity and impartiality was assessed to be either doubtful or poor in the annual confidential reports (ACR).
Dismissing a writ petition filed by S. Murugadoss who was serving as the IV Assistant Judge in the City Civil Court here at the time of his compulsory retirement at the age of 50, a Division Bench of Justices M. Venugopal and M. Nirmal Kumar held that there were good and sufficient reasons for having forced him to retire.
“To secure efficiency in public service and to preserve honesty and integrity among the serving judicial officers, the inefficient/deadwood or dishonest person can be retired compulsorily… When the performance of an employee is unsatisfactory, it is detrimental or prejudicial to the interest of the institution,” the Bench observed.
Authoring the judgment, the senior judge in the Bench also said that the powers vested on the High Court judges to make entries in the ACR of subordinate judicial officers would not only help in keeping a vigil over the performance of the members of the subordinate judiciary but also assist in shaping the career of the judicial officers. In so far as the history of the present case was concerned, Mr. Justice Venugopal pointed out that the writ petitioner had joined the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Service as a Civil Judge (Junior Division) in 1995 and got promoted to the Senior Division in 2007.
However, his performance was assessed to be poor/bad in 2004 and 2006.
Full court’s approval
The Administrative Committee of the High Court comprising top seven judges met on April 23, 2009, and decided that he should not be allowed to continue in service. The decision was approved in the full court (all judges) meeting held on March 11, 2010, when the petitioner had undergone a renal transplantation.
When the full court resolution was forwarded to the government for issuing a G.O., the latter called for materials based on which a decision was taken to retire the petitioner compulsorily. However, the Registrar General refused to part with the materials on the ground that the government could not review the decision of the full court. Hence, a G.O. was issued on September 5, 2011, retiring the petitioner from service compulsorily with effect from November 1, 2011.