The Supreme Court has asked High Courts to avoid passing strictures, harsh or disparaging remarks against subordinate judicial officers or authorities whose conduct comes into consideration unless it is really necessary for the decision of the case as an integral part thereof.

A Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and J.S. Khehar gave this ruling while expunging remarks made against Awani Kumar Upadhyay, who belonged to the Uttar Pradesh higher judicial service, on whom the Allahabad High Court passed strictures and passed an order to consider “whether disciplinary proceedings are warranted against him.”

Writing the judgment and setting aside the order, Justice Sathasivam said: “Inasmuch as the lower judicial officers mostly work in a charged atmosphere and are constantly under psychological pressure and they do not have the facilities which are available in the Higher Courts, … remarks/observations and strictures are to be avoided particularly if the officer has no occasion to put forth his reasoning. Further, if the passage complained of is wholly irrelevant and unjustifiable and its retention in records will cause serious harm to the persons to whom it refers and its expunction will not affect the reasons for the judgment or order, requests for expunging those remarks are to be allowed.”

The Bench said: “… we are not undermining the ultimate decision of the High Court on merits.” But it was settled legal position that no adverse remark could be made against any judicial officer without giving him an opportunity to explain his conduct. “The strictures passed on the appellant are neither warranted nor are they in conformity with the settled law as propounded by this court.”

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