Monday, December 11, 2023

Protocol facilities for judges should not be used to bring public criticism of judiciary: CJI Chandrachud

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Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud has come down heavily on an Allahabad High Court judge, who sought explanation from Railway officials after facing inconvenience during a train journey.

In a letter written to Chief Justices of all High Courts across the country, the CJI said that protocol facilities made available to Judges should not be used in a manner which makes it liable to result in inconvenience to others or to bring public criticism of the judiciary.

Without taking any names, the CJI referred to the communication addressed to General Manager, North Central Railway by the Registrar (Protocol) Allahabad High Court on July 14.

Sharing his displeasure over the incident, the CJI said that it has given rise to ‘justifiable disquiet’ both within and outside the judiciary.

He said a wise exercise of judicial authority, both on and off the Bench, was what sustained the credibility and legitimacy of the judiciary and the confidence which the society has in its Judges.

The CJI further took exception to the manner in which the High Court judge sought explanation from the Railways, stating that an officer of a High Court did not have to call for an explanation from a Railways personnel “to be placed before His Lordship for kind perusal”.

He further said that the protocol facilities made available to Judges should not be utilised to assert a claim to privilege, which set them apart from society or as a manifestation of power or authority.

CJI Chandrachud directed the Chief Justices of all High Courts to share his concerns with all colleagues across the High Courts.

He suggested them to initiate self-reflection and counselling within the judiciary, calling it a necessary practice for a healthy judiciary.

Sharing an extract of the communication sent by the Allahabad High Court Registrar (Protocol), the CJI said in order to prevent ‘further embarrassment’ to the High Court, he has redacted identities from the same.

On July 14, the Registrar (Protocol) of Allahabad High Court had called for an explanation from the concerned ‘erring officials, GRP personnel and
pantry Car manager for the inconvenience caused to a Judge of the HC during his train journey on July 8 from New Delhi to Prayagraj.

As per the letter, the train was late by more than three hours and despite repeated intimation to the T.T.E, no G.R.P personnel were found in the coach to meet the ‘requirements’ as desired by ‘His Lordship’.

It alleged that no Pantry Car workers attended ‘His Lordship’ for providing refreshments despite repeated calls. Further, when the call was made to Pantry Car Manager Raj Tripathi, the call was not picked.

It further said that the judge has desired an explanation from the ‘erring officials’ of the Railways, the G.R.P Personnel and the Pantry Car Manager pertaining to the ‘inconvenience’ caused to ‘His Lordship’ due to their conduct and ‘dereliction’ of duty.

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