Saturday, June 3, 2023

Supreme Court dismisses former Uttarakhand judge plea against suspension for allegedly torturing minor domestic help

A criminal case was lodged against the Judicial Officer under Sections 370, 323, 504 of Indian Penal Code and Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.

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The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the plea filed by former civil judge from Haridwar, Uttarakhand against her suspension from the service for allegedly torturing a minor girl, who worked as a domestic help at her residence. 

A bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian asked her to approach the state High Court. 

In October last year, the order to dismiss the Haridwar Civil Judge (Senior Division) Deepali Sharma was issued by the Additional Chief Secretary Radha Raturi following the Governor’s consent. 

In 2018, the civil judge was put under suspension following the raid at her residence in January in compliance with an order of the Uttarakhand High Court. Police found a girl at her residence who was severally injured. The 13-year-old girl worked at Sharma’s residence in Haridwar as a domestic help from 2015 to 2018.

The high court had intervened in the matter on the basis of a report submitted to the court by the Haridwar District Judge Rajendra Singh about the alleged torture of the girl at Sharma’s residence.

A criminal case was lodged against the Judicial Officer (under suspension), under Sections 370, 323, 504 of Indian Penal Code and Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. Apart from the criminal case, a departmental proceeding was also initiated against the judicial officer.

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She had challenged the same before the Uttarakhand High Court but the Court had dismissed the same, stating the scope and purpose of criminal proceedings as well as that of departmental inquiry are different. The standard of proof required in the departmental proceedings is not the same as that required to prove a criminal charge. 

In State Bank of India vs. R.B. Sharma, AIR 2004 SC 4144, the Apex Court held that the purpose of a departmental inquiry and that of a prosecution are distinct and different. While the departmental inquiry is held to maintain discipline in service, the prosecution is initiated to punish for infringement of a duty. The stay of departmental proceedings cannot be granted as a matter of course, said the High Court. 

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