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Saturday, March 06, 2021

Supreme Court: Flirting with junior not acceptable conduct for judge

“We find the WhatsApp messages quite offensive and improper,” CJI Bobde said. If such behaviour is allowed, the atmosphere will not be conducive for judicial work, he added.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: February 17, 2021 3:50:57 am
The bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubranian, was responding to submissions of Senior Advocate Ravindra Srivastava who appeared for the High Court Registrar.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday noted that it found WhatsApp messages allegedly sent by a Madhya Pradesh District Judge, who has since retired, to a junior lady judicial officer “offensive” and reminded that “to flirt with a junior official is not acceptable conduct for a judge”.

Hearing an appeal by the retired judge against the state High Court’s decision to order an “in-house departmental inquiry” against him on sexual harassment allegations levelled by the junior officer, Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, heading a three-judge bench, said: “We find the WhatsApp messages quite offensive and improper.” If such behaviour is allowed, the atmosphere will not be conducive for judicial work, he added.

The bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubranian, was responding to submissions of Senior Advocate Ravindra Srivastava who appeared for the High Court Registrar. Referring to some of the chat messages, the counsel said the conduct of the senior judicial officer should have been more appropriate while dealing with a junior lady officer.

Appearing for the officer facing the inquiry, Senior Advocate R Balasubramanian said the allegations had started only when he was in the zone of consideration for elevation as a judge of the High Court. Responding, CJI Bobde said this is “a ubiquitous phenomenon to raise complaints” when somebody is due for some position.

Balasubramanian contended that the disciplinary proceedings were not maintainable as the complainant had withdrawn her complaint. But the court was not inclined to agree and said that will not bar the High Court from initiating separate departmental proceedings.

It adjourned the matter to next week.

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