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September 15, 2019

SC restrains high court from passing strictures against judge

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September 15, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has restrained the Peshawar High Court (PHC) from passing strictures in a judgment against a judge of the district judiciary or summon him in judicial proceedings for his or her judgment and to publicly reprimand them in the open court.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik and comprising Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed released a judgment in a petition filed by a serving additional district and sessions judge Peshawar. One Miss Nusrat Yasmin, currently working as Additional District and Sessions Judge, Peshawar had moved the apex court against the strictures recorded by the PHC against her in its judgment of June 26, 2014, passed in Criminal Appeal No 663- P of 2012. She had prayed the apex court that these strictures, being uncalled for, harsh and impermissible in law, be expunged from the judgement of the high court. The apex court had granted leave to appeal of the appellant to consider the question on September 26, 2017.

Barrister Qasim Wadood, Additional Advocate General KP, and others appeared before the court for the respondents along with the PHC registrar and others. The 11-page judgment, authored by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, held that the high court should not pass strictures in a judgment against a judge of the district judiciary or summon a judge in judicial proceedings, relating to his or her judgment for public reprimand in open court. The court held that the course open to the high court is on the administrative side and the judges(s) of the high court hearing the case, can apprise the chief justice of the high court through a confidential administrative note highlighting the grave illegalities, irregularities and improprieties noticed, leaving it to the chief justice or the administrative committee of the high court, as the case may be to take an appropriate disciplinary action against the judge of the district judiciary. "For the above reasons, we expunge the strictures recorded against the appellant in the impugned judgement dated June 26, 2014 passed by the Peshawar High Court in Crl A No 633 of 2012," says the judgment.

The court held that they should also not form part of the service record of the appellant or in any manner influence the competent authority against the appellant judge in her service matters. The court while allowing the appeal of the appellant, directed that the assistant registrar of the Peshawar branch registry should ensure that a copy of this judgment is dispatched to the registrars of all the high courts, who should circulate it among all the judges. "It is clarified that this judgment is restricted to judicial strictures passed by the high court against a judge of the district judiciary while performing his or her judicial function," the judgment held.

The court observed that the high court while performing its judicial function must avoid passing strictures regarding the ability, competence, integrity and behaviour of the judge whose judgement is under scrutiny before it. "A judge of the high court, even if unhappy over the quality of the judgment under challenge, must not let go of judicial precaution and propriety and exercise restraint from making a personal remark," said the judgment. It further held that the high court is not to assume the role of a critic of the personal attributes and abilities of the judge. "Instead, the high court, maintaining its judicial majesty, is to focus only on the legal reasoning of the judgement under challenge," the court held.

The court further held that passing strictures and publicly rebuking, condemning and reproaching a judge does not sit well with the judicial character of the high court. "It is equally inappropriate to summon a judge of the district judiciary to court for a public reprimand, during the hearing of the case against his judgment, in open court," said the judgment. The court also observed that it is equally necessary for a judge of the district judiciary to refer or distinguish the judgments of the superior courts with care, caution and respect.

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