Court dismisses allegation as baseless

The Madras High Court Bench here has rapped a litigant for accusing a Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) of having made him sign a compromise memo under threat and coercion in a case filed by his estranged wife seeking maintenance.

Dismissing a criminal original petition filed by the litigant, A. Raja of Tuticorin, in the Bench, Justice T. Sudanthiram said that the High Court could never “tolerate such baseless allegations” levelled against judicial officers as it amounted to abusing the process of the court.

The judge pointed out that the petitioner was not the sole signatory to the memo; it was also attested by his counsel on record before the CJM.

But the lawyer did not support the petitioner’s present allegations by filing an affidavit in the High Court.

Outlining the details of the case, the judge said that the petitioner’s wife approached the CJM last year with a complaint that her husband had refused to provide maintenance to her.

She urged the CJM to order payment of maintenance by invoking Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Even as the case was pending, attempts were made to enter into a compromise for payment of maintenance to the tune of Rs. 3,000 every month. Though the petitioner was not in favour of it, the Magistrate allegedly coerced him to sign the memo under threat.

Immediately after an order was passed on the basis of the compromise memo, the petitioner challenged it before the Principal District-cum-Sessions Court through a revision petition. The Sessions Court sent the case back to the CJM for deciding it afresh after giving opportunity to both parties.

However, while ordering reconsideration, the Sessions Court directed the petitioner to pay an interim maintenance of Rs.1,500 a month until the disposal of the case by the CJM and hence the petitioner moved the High Court with the present petition challenging the interim order.

Finding fault with the Sessions Court for having sent the matter back to the CJM, Justice Sudanthiram said that such a decision would amount to accepting the petitioner’s allegation of the Magistrate having coerced him to sign the compromise memo.

The Sessions court had “erroneously sent the matter back to the trial court without even calling for remarks from the CJM concerned… This would set a bad precedent in court proceedings. No one can be permitted to make baseless allegations against any individual officer,” the judge said.

He suo motu set aside the Sessions court order in its entirety and restored the CJM’s order on the ground that the High Court could do so in the interest of justice and to set right the injustice caused to any person.