Arun Kumar Gupta vs State Of Jharkhand on 27 February, 2020


Supreme Court of India

Arun Kumar Gupta vs State Of Jharkhand on 27 February, 2020

Author: Deepak Gupta

Bench: L. Nageswara Rao, Deepak Gupta

                                                                         REPORTABLE

                                  IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                    CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

                               WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 190 OF 2018



          ARUN KUMAR GUPTA                                           …PETITIONER(S)


                                                  Versus

          STATE OF JHARKHAND & ANR.                                …RESPONDENT(S)

                                                  WITH

                              WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 391 OF 2018


                                            JUDGMENT

Deepak Gupta, J.

1. These writ petitions have been filed by two erstwhile judicial

officers who were members of the judicial service in the State of

Jharkhand and are directed against the orders whereby they

have been compulsorily retired. In respect of the two writ

petitions which are the subject matter of this judgment, this

Court passed the following order on 06.09.2018:
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
GEETA AHUJA

“Writ Petition Nos. 190/2018 and 391/2018 shall
Date: 2020.02.27
16:30:39 IST
Reason:

remain pending. The High Court of Jharkhand may
like to reconsider the matter in the light of the

1
entirety of the materials that have been placed
before us at the hearing by the Registrar General of
the Jharkhand High Court and also by the learned
counsel for the High Court.

We make it clear that the High Court is free to
decide the matter as may be considered appropriate
and that we have expressed no opinion on merits at
this stage. The High Court of Jharkhand would be
free to support its conclusions in terms of the
present order with adequate reasons.

The decision of the High Court in accordance
with this order be laid before us at the end of two
months from today.

List the matters after two months.”

Pursuant to the aforesaid order, the matters were placed before

the Screening Committee of the High Court of Jharkhand and the

Screening Committee on 11.10.2018 again found sufficient

reasons and approved the earlier action taken to compulsorily

retire these officers. The resolution of the Screening Committee

was placed before the Standing Committee of the Jharkhand

High Court, which approved the resolution of the screening

committee on 25.10.2018.

2. Challenge is laid in both these writ petitions to the orders of

compulsory retirement and especially to the reasons assigned or

the material ignored by the Screening Committee. The orders of

compulsory retirement have been passed in terms of the Rule

2
74(b)(ii) of the Jharkhand Service Code, 2001 which reads as

follows:

“(ii) The appointing authority concerned may after
giving a Government servant atleast three month’s
previous notice in writing, or an equal amount to
three month’s pay and allowance in lieu of such
notice, require him in public interest to retire from
the service on the date on which such a Government
servant completes thirty years of qualifying service
or attains fifty years of age or on any date thereafter
to be specified in the notice”

The aforesaid rule is pari materia to Rule 56(j) of the

Fundamental Rules.

3. The main contentions raised on behalf of the petitioners are

that their retirement is not in the pubic interest: their entire

service record especially the contemporaneous record has not

been taken into consideration and also that the petitioners have

been granted various promotions which would have the effect of

washing off their previous adverse entries, if any.

4. While deciding the present case we are conscious of the fact

that we are dealing with the cases of judicial officers. The

standard of integrity and probity expected from judicial officers is

much higher than that expected from other officers. Keeping

3
these factors in mind we shall first discuss the law on the subject

and then take up these two cases on merits.

Principles Governing Compulsory Retirement

5. This Court in Union of India v. Col. J.N. Sinha1 held that

compulsory retirement does not involve civil consequences. It

also dealt with the issue of what constitutes public interest. The

following observations are apposite:

“9. Now coming to the express words of
Fundamental Rule 56(j) it says that the appropriate
authority has the absolute right to retire a
Government servant if it is of the opinion that it is in
the public interest to do so. The right conferred on
the appropriate authority is an absolute one. That
power can be exercised subject to the conditions
mentioned in the rule, one of which is that the
concerned authority must be of the opinion that it is
in public interest to do so. If that authority bona fide
forms that opinion, the correctness of that opinion
cannot be challenged before courts. It is open to an
aggrieved party to contend that the requisite opinion
has not been formed or the decision is based on
collateral grounds or that it is an arbitrary decision.

The 1st respondent challenged the opinion formed
by the Government on the ground of mala fide. But
that ground has failed. The High Court did not
accept that plea. The same was not pressed before
us. The impugned order was not attacked on the
ground that the required opinion was not formed or
that the opinion formed was an arbitrary one. One of
the conditions of the 1st respondent’s service is that
the Government can choose to retire him any time
after he completes fifty years if it thinks that it is in
public interest to do so. Because of his compulsory
retirement he does not lose any of the rights

1 (1970) 2 SCC 458

4
acquired by him before retirement. Compulsory
retirement involves no civil consequences. The
aforementioned Rule 56(j) is not intended for
taking any penal action against the Government
servants. That rule merely embodies one of the
facets of the pleasure doctrine embodied in
Article 310 of the Constitution. Various
considerations may weigh with the appropriate
authority while exercising the power conferred under
the rule. In some cases, the Government may feel
that a particular post may be more usefully held in
public interest by an officer more competent than
the one who is holding. It may be that the officer
who is holding the post is not inefficient but the
appropriate authority may prefer to have a more
efficient officer. It may further be that in certain key
posts public interest may require that a person of
undoubted ability and integrity should be there.
There is no denying the fact that in all organizations
and more so in Government organizations, there is
good deal of dead wood. It is in public interest to
chop off the same. Fundamental Rule 56(j) holds the
balance between the rights of the individual
Government servant and the interests of the public.
While a minimum service is guaranteed to the
Government servant, the Government is given power
to energise its machinery and make it more efficient
by compulsorily retiring those who in its opinion
should not be there in public interest.

xxx xxx xxx

11. In our opinion the High Court erred in
thinking that the compulsory retirement
involves civil consequences. Such a retirement
does not take away any of the rights that have
accrued to the Government servant because of his
past service. It cannot be said that if the retiring age
of all or a section of the Government servants is
fixed at 50 years, the same would involve civil
consequences. Under the existing system there is no
uniform retirement age for all Government servants.
The retirement age is fixed not merely on the basis of
the interest of the Government servant but also
depending on the requirements of the society.”
(emphasis supplied)

5
This judgment was followed in State of Gujarat v. Suryakant

Chunilal Shah2, wherein this Court dealt with the concept of

public interest in great detail.

6. A three­Judge Bench in Baikuntha Nath Das v. Chief

Distt. Medical Officer3 dealing with the concept of compulsory

retirement laid down the following principles:

“34. The following principles emerge from the above
discussion:

(i) An order of compulsory retirement is not a
punishment. It implies no stigma nor any
suggestion of misbehaviour.

(ii) The order has to be passed by the
government on forming the opinion that it is in
the public interest to retire a government
servant compulsorily. The order is passed on
the subjective satisfaction of the government.

(iii) Principles of natural justice have no place in
the context of an order of compulsory
retirement. This does not mean that judicial
scrutiny is excluded altogether. While the High
Court or this Court would not examine the
matter as an appellate court, they may interfere
if they are satisfied that the order is passed (a)
mala fide or (b) that it is based on no evidence
or (c) that it is arbitrary — in the sense that no
reasonable person would form the requisite
opinion on the given material; in short, if it is
found to be a perverse order.

(iv) The government (or the Review Committee,
as the case may be) shall have to consider the
entire record of service before taking a decision
in the matter — of course attaching more
importance to record of and performance during
2 (1999) 1 SCC 529
3 (1992) 2 SCC 299

6
the later years. The record to be so considered
would naturally include the entries in the
confidential records/character rolls, both
favourable and adverse. If a government servant
is promoted to a higher post notwithstanding
the adverse remarks, such remarks lose their
sting, more so, if the promotion is based upon
merit (selection) and not upon seniority.

(v) An order of compulsory retirement is not
liable to be quashed by a Court merely on the
showing that while passing it uncommunicated
adverse remarks were also taken into
consideration. That circumstance by itself
cannot be a basis for interference.

Interference is permissible only on the grounds
mentioned in (iii) above. This aspect has been
discussed in paras 30 to 32 above.”

7. In Chandra Singh v. State of Rajasthan4, though this

Court came to the conclusion that the compulsory retirement

awarded to the applicant was not in consonance with the law, it

did not give relief to the petitioner on the ground that even under

Article 235 of the Constitution of India, the High Court can

assess the performance of any judicial officer at any time with a

view to discipline the black sheep or weed out the dead wood.

This Court held that this constitutional power of the High Court

is not circumscribed by any rule. Reference may be made to

paras 40 and 47 of the judgment:

“40. Article 235 of the Constitution of India enables
the High Court to assess the performance of any
4 (2003) 6 SCC 545

7
judicial officer at any time with a view to discipline
the black sheep or weed out the deadwood. This
constitutional power of the High Court cannot be
circumscribed by any rule or order.

xxx xxx xxx

47. In the instant case, we are dealing with the
higher judicial officers. We have already noticed the
observations made by the Committee of three
Judges. The nature of judicial service is such that it
cannot afford to suffer continuance in service of
persons of doubtful integrity or who have lost their
utility.”

8. In Syed T.A. Naqshbandi v. State of J & K,5, this Court

held that while exercising powers of judicial review the Courts

should not substitute themselves for the Committee/Full Court

of the High Court. The following observations are pertinent:

“10…Neither the High Court nor this Court, in
exercise of its powers of judicial review, could or
would at any rate substitute themselves in the place
of the Committee/Full Court of the High Court
concerned, to make an independent reassessment of
the same, as if sitting on an appeal. On a careful
consideration of the entire materials brought to our
notice by learned counsel on either side, we are
satisfied that the evaluation made by the
Committee/Full Court forming their unanimous
opinion is neither so arbitrary or capricious nor can
be said to be so irrational as to shock the conscience
of the Court to warrant or justify any interference. In
cases of such assessment, evaluation and
formulation of opinions, a vast range of multiple
factors play a vital and important role and no one
factor should be allowed to be overblown out of
proportion either to decry or deify an issue to be
resolved or claims sought to be considered or
asserted. In the very nature of things it would be

5 (2003) 9 SCC 592

8
difficult, nearing almost an impossibility to subject
such exercise undertaken by the Full Court, to
judicial review except in an extraordinary case when
the Court is convinced that some monstrous thing
which ought not to have taken place has really
happened and not merely because there could be
another possible view or someone has some
grievance about the exercise undertaken by the
Committee/Full Court…”

9. In Pyare Mohan Lal v. State of Jharkhand6, dealing with

a case of judicial officers, this Court in relation to the powers

under the same rule, after referring to a number of judgments,

summarised the law on the point as follows:

“18. Thus, the law on the point can be summarised
to the effect that an order of compulsory retirement
is not a punishment and it does not imply stigma
unless such order is passed to impose a punishment
for a proved misconduct, as prescribed in the
statutory rules. [See Surender Kumar v. Union of
India
] [(2010) 1 SCC 158]. The Authority must
consider and examine the overall effect of the entries
of the officer concerned and not an isolated entry, as
it may well be in some cases that in spite of
satisfactory performance, the authority may desire
to compulsorily retire an employee in public interest,
as in the opinion of the said Authority, the post has
to be manned by a more efficient and dynamic
person and if there is sufficient material on record to
show that the employee “rendered himself a liability
to the institution”, there is no occasion for the court
to interfere in the exercise of its limited power of
judicial review.”

6 (2010) 10 SCC 693

9

10. In Rajendra Singh Verma v. Lt. Governor (NCT of Delhi)

7
, this Court was dealing with the compulsory retirement of a

judicial officer from the Delhi Higher Judicial Service. It was held

that if the authority bona fide forms an opinion that the integrity

of a particular officer is doubtful and it is in public interest to

compulsorily retire such judicial officer, judicial review of such

order should be made with great care and circumspection. It was

specifically observed that when an order of compulsory

retirement is passed, the authority concerned has to take into

consideration the whole service record of the concerned officer

which could include non­communicated adverse remarks also. It

would be apposite to refer to the following observations of this

Court:

“218. On a careful consideration of the entire
material, it must be held that the evaluation made
by the Committee/Full Court, forming their
unanimous opinion, is neither so arbitrary nor
capricious nor can be said to be so irrational, so as
to shock the conscience of this Court to warrant or
justify any interference. In cases of such
assessment, evaluation and formulation of opinions,
a vast range of multiple factors play a vital and
important role and no one factor should be allowed
to be blown out of proportion either to decry or deify
an issue to be resolved or claims sought to be
considered or asserted. In the very nature of things,
it would be difficult, nearing almost an impossibility

7 (2011) 10 SCC 1

10
to subject such exercise undertaken by the Full
Court to judicial review except in an extraordinary
case when the Court is convinced that some real
injustice, which ought not to have taken place, has
really happened and not merely because there could
be another possible view or someone has some
grievance about the exercise undertaken by the
Committee/Full Court.

219. Viewed thus, and considered in the
background of the factual details and materials on
record, there is absolutely no need or justification for
this Court to interfere with the impugned
proceedings. Therefore, the three appeals fail and
are dismissed. Having regard to the facts of the case,
there shall be no order as to costs.”

11. In R.C. Chandel v. High Court of M. P.8, this Court, after

dealing with the entire law on the subject, framed the following 3

questions of law:

“18. The questions that fall for consideration are:
(1) Whether the recommendation made by the High
Court on the basis of unanimous opinion to the
Government for compulsory retirement of the
appellant and the order of compulsory
retirement issued by the Government suffer
from any legal flaw?

(2) Is the order of compulsory retirement so
arbitrary or irrational that justifies interference
in judicial review?

(3) Is the view of the Division Bench upholding the
order of the appellant’s compulsory retirement
so erroneous warranting interference by this
Court in an appeal under Article 136 of the
Constitution of India?”

The Court took note of the fact that the appellant before it had

been promoted and confirmed as District Judge and was also

8 (2012) 8 SCC 58

11
given selection grade and super time scale etc., but it held that

these promotions would not wash off the earlier adverse entries

which shall remain on record. It would be pertinent to refer to

paragraphs 26 and 29 of the judgment which read as follows:

“26. It is true that the appellant was confirmed as
District Judge in 1985; he got lower selection grade
with effect from 24­3­1989; he was awarded super
timescale in May 1999 and he was also given above
super timescale in 2002 but the confirmation as
District Judge and grant of selection grade and
super timescale do not wipe out the earlier adverse
entries which have remained on record and
continued to hold the field. The criterion for
promotion or grant of increment or higher scale is
different from an exercise which is undertaken by
the High Court to assess a judicial officer’s
continued utility to the judicial system. In assessing
potential for continued useful service of a judicial
officer in the system, the High Court is required to
take into account the entire service record. Overall
profile of a judicial officer is the guiding factor.
Those of doubtful integrity, questionable reputation
and wanting in utility are not entitled to benefit of
service after attaining the requisite length of service
or age.

xxx xxx xxx

29. Judicial service is not an ordinary government
service and the Judges are not employees as such.

Judges hold the public office; their function is one of
the essential functions of the State. In discharge of
their functions and duties, the Judges represent the
State. The office that a Judge holds is an office of
public trust. A Judge must be a person of
impeccable integrity and unimpeachable
independence. He must be honest to the core with
high moral values. When a litigant enters the
courtroom, he must feel secured that the Judge
before whom his matter has come, would deliver
justice impartially and uninfluenced by any

12
consideration. The standard of conduct expected of a
Judge is much higher than an ordinary man. This is
no excuse that since the standards in the society
have fallen, the Judges who are drawn from the
society cannot be expected to have high standards
and ethical firmness required of a Judge. A Judge,
like Caesar’s wife, must be above suspicion. The
credibility of the judicial system is dependent upon
the Judges who man it. For a democracy to thrive
and the rule of law to survive, justice system and the
judicial process have to be strong and every Judge
must discharge his judicial functions with integrity,
impartiality and intellectual honesty.”

12. In Rajasthan SRTC v. Babu Lal Jangir9, this Court held

as follows:

“23. The principle of law which is clarified and
stands crystallised after the judgment in Pyare
Mohan Lal v. State of Jharkhand
is that after the
promotion of an employee the adverse entries prior
thereto would have no relevance and can be treated
as wiped off when the case of the government
employee is to be considered for further promotion.

However, this “washed­off theory” will have no
application when the case of an employee is being
assessed to determine whether he is fit to be
retained in service or requires to be given
compulsory retirement. The rationale given is that
since such an assessment is based on “entire service
record”, there is no question of not taking into
consideration the earlier old adverse entries or
record of the old period. We may hasten to add that
while such a record can be taken into consideration,
at the same time, the service record of the immediate
past period will have to be given due credence and
weightage. For example, as against some very old
adverse entries where the immediate past record
shows exemplary performance, ignoring such a
record of recent past and acting only on the basis of
old adverse entries, to retire a person will be a clear
example of arbitrary exercise of power. However, if
old record pertains to integrity of a person then

9 (2013) 10 SCC 551

13
that may be sufficient to justify the order of
premature retirement of the government
servant.”
(emphasis supplied)

The view in Pyare Mohan Lal (supra) was reiterated. The only

caveat being that the entire record should be taken into

consideration and the earlier record even after promotions could

not be ignored.

13. In High Court of Judicature of Patna v. Shyam Deo

Singh10, this Court was dealing with a case where a judicial

officer was retired at the age of 58 years and was denied the

benefit of service of 2 years. This Court has held as follows:

“8. The importance of the issue can hardly be
gainsaid. The evaluation of the service record of a
judicial officer for the purpose of formation of an
opinion as to his/her potential for continued useful
service is required to be made by the High Court
which obviously means the Full Court on the
administrative side. In all High Courts such
evaluation, in the first instance, is made by a
committee of senior Judges. The decision of the
Committee is placed before the Full Court to decide
whether the recommendation of the Committee
should be accepted or not. The ultimate decision is
always preceded by an elaborate consideration of the
matter by the Hon’ble Judges of the High Court who
are familiar with the qualities and attributes of the
judicial officer under consideration. This is also what
had happened in the present case. The very process
by which the decision is eventually arrived at, in our

10 (2014) 4 SCC 773

14
view, should permit a limited judicial review and it is
only in a rare case where the decision taken is
unsupported by any material or the same reflects a
conclusion which, on the face of it, cannot be
sustained that judicial review would be permissible.”

Washed off theory

14. One of the main arguments raised by the petitioners is that

since the petitioners have been promoted to various higher posts,

their record prior to the promotion will lose its sting and is not of

much value. Reliance is placed on the observations of this Court

in D. Ramaswami v. State of T. N.11 wherein this Court held as

follows:

“4. In the face of the promotion of the appellant just
a few months earlier and nothing even mildly
suggestive of ineptitude or inefficiency thereafter, it
is impossible to sustain the order of the Government
retiring the appellant from service. The learned
counsel for the State of Tamil Nadu argued that the
Government was entitled to take into consideration
the entire history of the appellant including that part
of it which was prior to his promotion. We do not say
that the previous history of a government servant
should be completely ignored, once he is promoted.
Sometimes, past events may help to assess present
conduct. But when there is nothing in the present
conduct casting any doubt on the wisdom of the
promotion, we see no justification for needless
digging into the past.”

15. Reference may also be made to the judgment of this Court

in Pyare Mohan Lal (supra) in which while dealing with the

11 (1982) 1 SCC 510

15
concept of washed off theory, this Court after dealing with the

entire case law on the subject held as follows:

“24. In view of the above, the law can be
summarised to state that in case there is a conflict
between two or more judgments of this Court, the
judgment of the larger Bench is to be followed. More
so, the washed­off theory does not have universal
application. It may have relevance while considering
the case of government servant for further promotion
but not in a case where the employee is being
assessed by the reviewing authority to determine
whether he is fit to be retained in service or requires
to be given compulsory retirement, as the Committee
is to assess his suitability taking into consideration
his “entire service record”.

xxx xxx xxx

29. The law requires the authority to consider the
“entire service record” of the employee while
assessing whether he can be given compulsory
retirement irrespective of the fact that the adverse
entries had not been communicated to him and the
officer had been promoted earlier in spite of those
adverse entries. More so, a single adverse entry
regarding the integrity of an officer even in remote
past is sufficient to award compulsory retirement.
The case of a judicial officer is required to be
examined, treating him to be different from other
wings of the society, as he is serving the State in a
different capacity. The case of a judicial officer is
considered by a committee of Judges of the High
Court duly constituted by the Hon’ble the Chief
Justice and then the report of the Committee is
placed before the Full Court. A decision is taken by
the Full Court after due deliberation on the matter.
Therefore, there is hardly any chance to make the
allegations of non­application of mind or mala fides.”

16. The law on the subject of compulsory retirement, especially in

the case of judicial officers may be summarised as follows:

16

(i) An order directing compulsory retirement of a

judicial officer is not punitive in nature;

(ii) An order directing compulsory retirement of a

judicial officer has no civil consequences;

(iii) While considering the case of a judicial officer

for compulsory retirement the entire record of the

judicial officer should be taken into consideration,

though the latter and more contemporaneous record

must be given more weightage;

(iv) Subsequent promotions do not mean that

earlier adverse record cannot be looked into while

deciding whether a judicial officer should be

compulsorily retired;

(v) The ‘washed off’ theory does not apply in case

of judicial officers specially in respect of adverse

entries relating to integrity;

(vi) The courts should exercise their power of

judicial review with great circumspection and

restraint keeping in view the fact that compulsory

retirement of a judicial officer is normally directed on

17
the recommendation of a high­powered committee(s)

of the High Court.

It is in the light of the aforesaid law that we will now consider the

factual aspects of the present case.

17. In view of the fact that the Screening Committee has given

detailed reasoning only after the orders of this Court referred to

above and in view of the limited scope of judicial review when

there are no allegations of mala fide, we would have avoided

giving reasons to uphold such an order since it does not amount

to punishment and is not penal in nature. However, since the

petitioners have insisted that there is no material against them,

we have no option but to refer to some of the reasons given by the

Screening Committee.

Case of Shri Arun Kumar Gupta

18. As far as Mr. Arun Kumar Gupta is concerned, there are two

very serious allegations against him. The first is that when he

was working as Deputy Director, Administrative Training

Institute at Ranchi, as many as 10 ladies, who were Civil Service

Probationers, made allegations that he was using unwarranted

and objectionable language during his lectures, citing indecent

18
examples and using words having double meaning, thereby

causing embarrassment to the lady officers. We have perused

the complaints which are filed with the reply and the common

refrain is that the language used by Mr. Gupta during his

lectures was highly sexist.

19. There is also another allegation that he had physically hurt

a washerman by placing a hot iron on the head of the washerman

who had allegedly not ironed his clothes properly. It would be

pertinent to mention that the Principal District Judge had

reported to the High Court that the victim had personally

approached him immediately after the occurrence and he (the

Principal District Judge) found that the victim had sustained

burn injuries and he got the victim treated. It is true that Mr.

Arun Kumar Gupta was exonerated by the successor judicial

officer before whom the complainant denied having suffered any

injury but we may note that this is a preliminary inquiry and the

successor Principal District Judge did not even care to examine

his predecessor Principal District Judge, who had not only been

approached personally by the washerman, but who had himself

noted the burn injuries and had got the victim treated.

19
Therefore, we are of the view that the Screening Committee was

right that the victim may have been put under some pressure to

withdraw his complaint. These occurrences are of the year 2011­

2012 and cannot be said to be very old.

20. In our view, the aforementioned two instances are sufficient

to decide the case against the petitioner. We may also note that

Shri Raju Ramchandran, learned senior counsel appearing for

the petitioner has urged that the Screening Committee had only

taken the entries from 1992­1993 to 2004­2005 and had ignored

the entries from 2005­2006 to 2016­2017. As explained by Mr.

Sunil Kumar, learned senior counsel appearing for the High

Court, all the ACRs were before the Screening Committee but in

the order it is only the adverse entries which have been noted.

Be that as it may, we are of the view that even if these adverse

entries are ignored, the petitioner cannot be granted relief for the

reasons aforesaid.

Case of Shri Raj Nandan Rai

21. As far as this officer is concerned, we find that his record on

many counts is not at all good. His reputation and integrity have

been doubted more than once in the years 1996­1997, 1997­

20
1998 and 2004­2005. Some adverse remarks have been

conveyed to him. In the year 2015­2016, even his knowledge of

law and procedure is found to be average and his relation with

the members of the Bar was found not very good. There are also

allegations against him of having granted bail for illegal

gratification and substance has been found in this allegation in

the report of the Judicial Commissioner, Ranchi (who is

equivalent to the Principal District Judge). The officer had

granted bail by noting in the order that Section 327 of the Indian

Penal Code, 1860 was bailable whereas the offence is non­

bailable and an unrecorded warning regarding the integrity of the

judicial officer was issued to him in 2012.

Conclusion

22. As is obvious from the law quoted above, adverse entries

with regard to integrity do not lose their sting at any stage. A

judicial officer’s integrity must be of a higher order and even a

single aberration is not permitted. As far as the present cases

are concerned, the matter has been considered by the Screening

Committee on two occasions and the recommendations of the

Screening Committee have been accepted by the Standing

21
Committee on both occasions. The action taken is not by one

officer or Judge, it is a collective decision, first by the Screening

Committee and then approved by the Standing Committee.

23. Senior judges of the High Court who were the members of

the Screening Committee and Standing Committee have taken a

considered and well­reasoned decision. Unless there are

allegations of mala fides or the facts are so glaring that the

decision of compulsory retirement is unsupportable this court

would not exercise its power of judicial review. In such matters

the court on the judicial side must exercise restraint before

setting aside the decision of such collective bodies comprising of

senior High Court Judges. In our opinion these are not fit cases

to interfere with the said decisions.

24. In view of the above, both the writ petitions are dismissed.

Any pending application(s) shall stand(s) disposed of.

……………………………..J.

(L. Nageswara Rao)

…………………………….J.

(Deepak Gupta)

New Delhi
February 27, 2020

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