Punjab & Haryana HC orders departmental action against Magistrate who failed to comply with HC order

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A single-judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has referred a case to Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha for initiation of departmental action against Yamuna Nagar Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Arvind Kumar [Puran Chand Sharma v State of Haryana].

Justice Manoj Bajaj held that an order passed by the CJM was based on irrational reasoning, reflected lack of understanding of criminal jurisprudence and also indicated judicial indiscipline.

“This Court has no hesitation in holding that Chief Judicial Magistrate, Yamuna Nagar has passed the impugned order by giving irrational reasons, which not only show his dearth of understanding criminal jurisprudence and fundamental principles of law, but also reflect judicial indiscipline on his part, which amounts to grave misconduct and warrants departmental action against him,” the Court said.

The issue arose when the CJM refused to comply with a direction by the High Court to refund an amount of ₹1,10,000 earlier deposited with the Court by an accused pursuant to an anticipatory bail order.

The accused, apprehending arrest, had approached the High Court which granted him anticipatory bail on deposit of the amount.

Eventually, the trial ended in acquittal of all the accused including the petitioner. Thus, he moved the High Court for release of the amount.

The prayer was accepted since the state counsel did not oppose the claim, and the CJM was directed to release the amount.

However, despite the High Court’s direction, the CJM declined the prayer.

The State counsel pointed out that though the Court’s direction was specific, the trial court refused the prayer considering complainant’s appeal against the judgment of acquittal.

However, even the State conceded that the condition imposed while granting pre-arrest bail would come to an end on acquittal as their bail bonds and surety bonds stood discharged.

On hearing the background of the case, the High Court called for an explanation from the CJM noting that, “the order (declining release of amount) was passed in flagrant violation of clear and unambiguous direction issued by this Court on November 6, 2020.”

It was Justice Bajaj’s take that the explanation reflected that the CJM was honoured to receive the show-cause notice and attempted to explain that he mistakenly refused to refund the amount and regretted inconvenience caused to the High Court.

“The expression and reasoning contained in the impugned order do not show that the disobedience of the direction by this Court was erroneous as claimed in the explanation, therefore, the same is not worth acceptance,” the single-judge said.

The High Court opined that the accused was within his rights to claim a refund. Further, it was stated that the direction of the High Court was “crystal clear” and did not require interpretation, much less by the Chief Judicial Magistrate.

In fact, on perusal of the order under challenge, the High Court noted that the CJM needlessly proceeded to interpret the order without any jurisdiction, and the reasoning given was patently absurd and illogical.

Thus, the Court set aside the order of the CJM and directed the amount to be refunded to the petitioner.

The Court also directed that a copy of its order be sent to the Chief Justice of the High Court for initiating departmental action against the CJM.

“Let a copy of this order be sent to Hon’ble the Chief Justice for initiating departmental action against Mr. Arvind Kumar, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Yamuna Nagar at Jagadhari,” the High Court ordered.

Advocate SS Dinarpur appeared for the petitioner and the State was represented by Deputy Advocate-General Bhupender Singh.

Read Order here:

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