The Delhi High Court observes that when it comes to a office of judges, there should be no point where any one can have the slightest of doubt on the dealing of case.
In the same context, the Delhi High Court has transferred a case from the court of a family judge after he shared his personal contact number with the parties and met one of them in his chambers.
Advocates Arundhati Katju, Bhabna Das and Shristi Bor Thakur appeared for the petitioner’s mother.
The respondent was represented by Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra along with Advocates Asmita Narula and Apoorva Maheshwari.
Every Judge should remind himself that their acts are always under check and their conduct is monitored closely by the litigants. Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma said that
“Unfortunately, on account of the conduct of the judge for sharing his personal mobile number with both the parties and admittedly having met one of the parties in the chamber has unnecessarily given a cause of reasonable apprehension of bias.”
Justice Dinesh Sharma was hearing a case by a mother who has challenged the order by family court in Saket which had restrained her from taking her minor child out of Delhi.
The petition in this regard said that even when the proceedings were due before the High Court, the Judge decided the guardianship petition and gave all rights to the father.
The plea also stated that the judge also shared his personal number even when the proceedings were still going on. The further allegation says that the family court judge shared his personal mobile number with the parties along with meeting with the father in the judges chamber. and that the father met the judge in his chambers.
The plea states that the petitioner has some doubts as to what happened inside the chambers.
The High Court agreed that this is a grave mistake and under no circumstances can should a number be exchanged between a judge and other party. The court said that justice must not only be done, but must also appear to have been done.
“The conduct of the judge while conducting the judicial proceedings should be above board,” the order stated.
Justice Sharma held that a mere adverse order can not invoke the power of transfer, and the order needs to be revisited and then should a conclusion be drawn
“It is a settled proposition that ‘mere apprehension of bias’ and not ‘actual bias’ may be sufficient to exercise the power of transfer.”
The Court, therefore, set aside the orders of the family court and restored the guardianship petition.
On the basis of the order, the Father in the above case has been given visitation rights for three hours on Wednesday and Friday and eight hours on weekends. on birthdays 4hrs time is alloted.
“The principal judge, Family Court is requested to decide the said guardianship petition as expeditiously as possible preferably within four weeks. Learned Principal Judge, Family Court may also take assistance of the Child Counselor and interact with the child before deciding the visitation rights.”