Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud has asked judges not to use their protocol facilities in a manner that is liable to cause inconvenience to others or to bring public criticism of the judiciary.
In a letter, the Chief Justice referred to a recent incident when a High Court officer, likely on the direction of a High Court judge, sought an explanation from railway personnel about the pantry staffers not serving the judge during a train journey.
“A judge of the High Court does not possess disciplinary jurisdiction over railway personnel. Hence, there was no occasion for an officer of the High Court to call for an explanation from the railway personnel,” the CJI pointed out.
The officer’s letter had said the pantry car manager did not answer repeated calls from the judge’s side.
The Registrar in-charge of the protocol section of the High Court had written to the general manager of the regional railway establishment on July 14, complaining about “inconvenience caused to His Lordship”.
Chief Justice Chandrachud did not name the High Court or the judge concerned in order not to embarrass the High Court concerned.
However, the CJI wrote that the “communication which has been addressed by an officer of the High Court to the General Manager of the railway establishment has given rise to justifiable disquiet both within and outside the judiciary”.
“Protocol ‘facilities’ which are made available to judges should not be utilised to assert a claim to privilege which sets them apart from society or as a manifestation of power or authority. A wise exercise of judicial authority, both on and off the Bench, is what sustains the credibility and legitimacy of the judiciary and the confidence which society has in its judges,” the Chief Justice cautioned.