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The Hon’ble Uttarakhand High Court Bench in the instant case overturned and quashed the suspension of the district judge of Chamoli as it found that rules of procedure regarding initiation of disciplinary proceedings were not adhered to while suspending the Hon’ble Judge. 

In the present case, the petitioner preferred the instant writ petition for quashing the suspension order and Charge-sheet against him by the respondent, by which the petitioner was placed under suspension. The detailed facts of this case was that while the petitioner was posted as District and Sessions Judge, Chamoli, a complaint was allegedly made against him by the District Bar Association, Gopeshwar at Chamoli before the Hon’ble Uttarakhand High Court, for recording of evidence by the petitioner-District and Sessions Judge, Chamoli against the procedure, and for violating the privacy of a employee woman by calling for her call details. 

The Hon’ble Uttarakhand High Court framed charges against the petitioner, where he was called to submit his written averment with regard to the charges within twenty one days from the date of receipt of the charge-sheet. The Petitioner submitted his reply to the charge-sheet. 

Despite replying to the charge-sheet, no enquiry personnel was appointed and the disciplinary proceeding did not proceed any further, whereby the petitioner was constrained to write to the respondent-High Court through Registrar General to revoke his suspension. 

The petitioner approached the Hon’ble High Court challenging the suspension order, the charge-sheet as well as the entire disciplinary proceedings against him. The petitioner denied the allegations brought against him, and even agreed to the initiation of a inquiry to inquire into a possible conspiracy against him.

The petitioner argued that a complaint made against a member of a sub-ordinate judiciary in the State should not be entertained and no action should be taken thereon, unless, it was supported by a duly sworn affidavit and verifiable material to substantiate the allegations made in the complaint. It is to be noted that the complaint against the petitioner was undated, anonymous, and was not supported by any affidavit. The petitioner further alleged that if action on such complaint meeting the above requirement was deemed necessary, the authenticity of the complaint was to be duly ascertained and further steps should have been taken only after satisfaction of the competent authority designated by the Chief Justice of the High Court.

The respondent High Court contended in its counter affidavit that the complaint received against the petitioner was strictly dealt with in as per the Uttarakhand High Court Vigilance Rules, 2019. 

The Hon’ble Division Bench of the Uttarakhand High Court stated that the said procedure had not been complied with in the manner prescribed by the rules. It went on to emphasize that when law mandated to do a certain thing in a certain manner, the same should have been done in that manner alone, is a well-known law and the same had not been followed in the present case, therefore, not only the suspension order, but the entire disciplinary proceedings was quashed, as illegality stroke at the root of the order. The Hon’ble High Court also found some irregularities in procedures and other lacunas in filing the complaint against the petitioner.

The Hon’ble Division Bench of the Uttarakhand High Court further noted that as per the high court rules, a complaint was first required to be placed before the concerned Administrative Judge, who, if considered it necessary, would refer the complaint to committee of Hon’ble Judges, to be constituted by Hon’ble the Chief Justice. If the committee, after considering the complaint, opined that the allegations made were to be enquired into, or a departmental enquiry was to be initiated against the delinquent officer, the Committee would submit its recommendations to the Hon’ble Chief Justice. The action to be taken on such complaint then would be the sole discretion of Hon’ble the Chief Justice. The Bench found that all of this was not done in the present case. 

The Hon’ble Uttarakhand High Court thus allowed the petitioner’s plea and quashed both the suspension order and chargesheet against the petitioner. 

A Division Bench of Justices Pankaj Purohit and Rakesh Thapliyal passed this particular judgment. 

CASE NAME: Dhananjay Chaturvedi Vs. High Court of Uttarakhand (Decided on 29th December, 2023).

Aditya Paul, 5th Year Student, Adamas University, Intern Under Legal Vidhiya.

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