SC Expunges Observations in Kerala HC’s Judgment, Suggesting that Accused Judicial Officer Exhibits Political Favoritism

Shashwati Chowdhury

Published on: August 8, 2022 at 18:45 IST

The Supreme Court expunged observations made in a ruling by the Kerala High Court that accused Ernakulam Principal District and Sessions Judge Honey M. Varghese of engaging in political favouritism.

The criticisms and disparaging statements made against the judicial officer in the impugned order will be expunged, the Bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer and JK Maheshwari observed.

In its order the Bench said “We have learned counsel for the parties. We are of the view that it is just and proper to expunge the observations/adverse remarks made against the petitioner-judicial officer in the impugned order. Ordered accordingly. The Special Leave Petition is accordingly disposed of.”

The Bench headed by Justice Vineet Saran, who is now retired, gave notice in the SLP and also stayed the High Court’s observations on May 2, 2022.

The High Court continued to find in the impugned ruling that there is basis for the apprehension of the father’s worry that he won’t receive a fair hearing in the bail application filed by the accused in crime. The judge appeared to have “affinity” for the accused’s political party, the court further noted.

The impugned order was made as a result of a transfer petition that the father of a political murder victim filed with the High Court, asking for the transfer of a bail case that was pending before the court where the petitioner served as the presiding officer.

The officer claimed in the SLP that she has maintained the highest levels of probity and transparency throughout her judicial career, which has spanned close to ten years. The petitioner argued that such observations undercut the well-founded public confidence in the Court she presided over as one of unquestionable integrity, equity, and fairness while making it clear that she moved the SLP after obtaining the necessary permission from the Deputy Registrar of the Kerala High Court to pursue the necessary legal remedy to expunge the said remarks

Although it was argued that she took exception to the Court implying any error in the procedure adopted by her in her capacity as a judicial officer as indicative of political favouritism as uncalled for and, in any case, unwarranted given the facts of the case, she had no grievance or objection to the substantive order transferring the application pending before her court to another court.

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