Himachal Pradesh High Court throws out suit to sue judges

Shimla: For having the ‘audacity to seek relief including of damages / compensation against the Judge,’ the High Court threw out one such suit here yesterday and imposed exemplary costs on the petitioner for rushing to court with frivolous, reckless, irresponsible and unsubstantiated allegations.

Pronouncing the order in the Deepak Khosla versus State of HP and others suit, the courts first bench of Chief Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Kuldip Singh held that admitting such a case would be nothing short of allowing the petitioner to overreach proceedings pending before a lower court.

The court had heard the case on 11th July,2013 and reserved its order about admitting or not admitting the case.

Himachal High Court

Khosla, who pleaded his case in person, besides seeking other reliefs, had sought Rs 1 Crore compensation from investigating officials, public prosecutors, two judges and others as damages to reputation because of two orders passed in a criminal case by a lower court in Kasuali.

The High Court confronted with the petitioner seeking ‘somewhat unusual reliefs’ about declaring and holding that two judges of Kasuali court had violated their oath of office and were no longer fit / legally competent for judicial duties (as they now were ‘unsworn’), rejected the petition holding it to be ‘an argument of desperation’, which on the face of record was making reckless and irresponsible allegations made with ulterior motives.

Damages from the two judges named in the suit application were sought on the grounds that they had acted in a manner which no reasonable person would have acted by issuing notice to the petitioner in a police complaint proceedings instituted against him and to take cognizance of the crime.

The petitioner had argued that orders had been passed negligently and in a mechanical manner, which no reasonable person of average standing or prudence, would have passed, if acting in good faith. Because of the issuance of that notice in a routine manner, the reputation of the petitioner had been damaged.

Taking a stern view of the unusual relief sought, Justice Khanwilkar writing for the bench observed that this allegation was nothing short of criticizing the Judge personally and not his judgment.”

Agreeing with the advocate general Shrawan Dogra’s contention that it was not a bonafide petition but a frivolous one, the court inferred that the petitioner appeared to be making a subtle attempt to browbeat the lower court, where a criminal against him was pending for trial.

Quoting from the Nirmala J. Jhala versus Gujarat State, Supreme Court judgment, the court cited, “Judge bashing has become a favourite pastime of some people….. In case the High Court does not protect honest judicial officers, the survival of the judicial system would itself be in danger.”

About the Judicial Officers Protection Act, 1850 and Judges Protection Act, 1985, that were heavily relied upon by the petitioner in moving the application for suing the judges, the court concurred that protection given to judicial officers was limited to acts done in discharge of judicial functions in good faith.

“That, however, does not mean that every erroneous order passed by the judicial officer must be assumed to be made in bad faith, so as to proceed against him personally,” the judges recorded.

Before throwing out the suit, exemplary costs of Rs 25,000 were imposed on the petitioner that has to be paid in 2 weeks time. The court also left the option open for the advocate general option to initiate contempt proceedings against the petitioner.

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