PUCL Bulletin, Feb., 2001

Judicial Impropriety

Shri Prabhakar Sinha, national Vice President, PUCL has in a letter to the Chief Justice of Patna High Court raised the question of propriety in a judge of the High Court of Patna, who had been monitoring the Fodder scamp cases in which Shri Laloo Prasad Yadav is an accused, inviting Shri Yadav at a reception that he hosted. -Chief Editor

Dr. Prabhakar Sinha
Human Rights Activist
Nepali Kothi
Club Road
Muzaffarpur 842 002

The Chief Justice
Patna High Court


Recently Mr. Laloo Prasad Yadav was a guest at a reception hosted by e Mr. (Justice) S N Jha, who had been monitoring the fodder scam cases in which Mr. Yadav is one of the accused. I am not alleging or insinuating that this social interaction may influence Mr.(Justice) Jha in discharge of his duties but I am of the firm view that this interaction goes far beyond the limits of propriety and is bound to give a wrong message to the general public and the subordinate judiciary. The general public does not know the judges as persons and as such its perception of them is determined by appearance rather than reality.

The nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and criminals has so vitiated the atmosphere and bred such cynicism that the people are prepared to believe the worst of any person regardless of the high and honorable post he may be holding. In an atmosphere of such cynicism the members of the judiciary are required to move with utmost caution in their official as well as private sphere of life. In fact, in better days also, the members of judiciary maintained and observed aloofness in their life, a practice, which served them and the judiciary well. Any departure from that time tested laudable practice is lower the prestige of the judiciary.

As a human right activist, I believe that an independent, impartial, and highly respected judiciary is the need of any civilized society and a minimum condition for a genuine democracy.

May I request you kindly to discuss with your brother judges not justice Mr. Jha but the question to which I have drawn attention and decide on a code of conduct?

Yours faithfully
(Prabhakar Sinha)

{In the context of the above matter it would be relevant here that late Shri H M Seervai, Senior advocate, one time advocate general of Maharashtra, raised objections, in a note that he wrote down for the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, to the practice of entertaining a judge by the members of the bar. He was of the opinion that it alright for advocates to invite a judge on ceremonial functions like marriages if the judge was known personally. Once when the Chief justice of Bombay Mr. Justice Chainani asked him to give a dinner to chief Justice Sinha, pointing out that the former Advocate General had given a dinner in honour of Chief Justice Mahajan when he visited Bombay. Mr. Seervai, the Advocate General now, refused to do so on principle. The above case from Patna is even more serious as the judge had invited an accused. Mr. Seervai was of the opinion that "this conduct is causing great resentment and, in my view, rightly so, and if judges do not impose restraint on their conduct, it may very well be that it may be enforced on them by a law". (These views of Shri Seervai are from The Seervai Legacy edited by Feroza H. Seervai).
-Chief Editor}

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