Supreme Court Invalidates Judgment Released by Retired High Court Judge


LI Network

Published on: February 20, 2024 at 12:30 IST

The Supreme Court recently annulled a judgment from the Madras High Court solely because the judge issued it after retiring, emphasizing the impropriety of a judge retaining a case file after leaving office.

Justices Abhay S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan, constituting the bench, referred the appeal back to the High Court for a fresh review.

In this case, a single judge of the High Court delivered a concise order declaring the operative part of a criminal appeal on April 17, 2017.

The judge retired on May 26, 2017, and the detailed judgment with reasons was only released on October 23, 2017, approximately five months post-retirement.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) contested the judgment in the Supreme Court, citing the untimely pronouncement after the judge’s retirement as a key issue.

Expressing strong disapproval of the judge’s handling of the case, the Supreme Court remarked:

“…it is obvious that even after the learned Judge demitted the office, he assigned reasons and made the judgment ready. According to us, retaining the file of a case for a period of 5 months after demitting the office is an act of gross impropriety on the part of the learned Judge. We cannot countenance what has been done in this case.”

The Court highlighted the principle that justice must not only be done but also be seen to be done, expressing its disagreement with the actions taken in this instance and stating, “We cannot support such acts of impropriety, and, therefore, in our view, the only option for this Court is to set aside the impugned judgment and remit the cases to the High Court for a fresh decision.”

The Court clarified that it did not assess the merits of the case in this context.

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