Gujarat High Court Affirms Dismissal of Judge Who Refused to Return Until Judicial System Issues Addressed

Gujarat High Court Law insider

LI Network

Published on: December 27, 2023 at 06:42 IST

In a recent ruling, the Gujarat High Court upheld the dismissal of a magistrate, Nileshbhai Chauhan, who took unauthorized leave after sending a strongly-worded letter to an administrative judge of the High Court and the principal district judge of Vadodara in 2013 [Nileshbhai Chauhan v. Registrar General].

Justices Biren Vaishnav and Nisha Thakore, presiding over the case, expressed the opinion that while a judicial officer may be justified in expressing dissatisfaction with the system, Chauhan’s method of doing so was inappropriate.

The Court emphasized that the standards applied to ordinary employees regarding unauthorized absence should not necessarily be the same for judicial officers, especially when the latter abandons service by refusing to report to work until a specific issue is resolved.

Chauhan had taken unauthorized leave from May 13, 2013, to July 11, 2013, following a period of paid leave from April 24, 2013, to May 10, 2013. During his vacation, he became aware of a lawyers’ strike in Vadodara through a news article. Chauhan informed the principal district judge and personally discussed the matter with him.

However, he later wrote an “intemperate” letter, accusing the principal district judge and the administrative judge of the High Court of contributing to the decay of the judicial system by supporting protesting lawyers.

The High Court, in its decision, affirmed that Chauhan’s conduct was not befitting a judicial officer. The court noted that the former judge’s dismissal was appropriate given the baseless allegations and undignified language used in the letter, as well as the unauthorized absence from duty.

Chauhan’s dismissal in 2015 was challenged in 2016, but the court, while recognizing a judicial officer’s right to express dissatisfaction, criticized Chauhan’s choice of language and affirmed the dismissal.

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