On Monday, a bench comprised of Justice Mohan Lal of the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court observed that judges should refrain from making harsh or disparaging remarks against counsels, parties, or witnesses unless absolutely necessary for deciding the case and until they are heard.
Judges, according to Justice Mohan Lal, have a “powerful seat” and that they should not use intemperate remarks, undignified banter, or harsh criticism.
“It is the general principle of highest importance to the proper administration of justice that derogatory remarks are not to be made against persons unless absolutely necessary for decision of the case to animadvert on their conduct.”
The Court was hearing a case filed under Section 482 CrPC in which the petitioner requested that the adverse remarks, observations, and instructions made by Special NIA Judge, Jammu in the impugned judgement be removed.
The petitioner, a Deputy Superintendent of Police in J&K Police and an investigation officer in two FIRs related to the case before the Special NIA Judge, was displeased with the observations made in the impugned judgement on the subject of charge framing in the two issues.
The Trial Court had recorded his observation and disagreement with the manner in which the IO, i.e., the petitioner, had conducted the investigation. It had stated, among other things, that the observed investigation was “perfunctory” and that the petitioner conducted himself in a “unprofessional manner.”
The trial Court had also made personal remarks, casting doubt on the Petitioner’s selection as Deputy SP and remarking that a much better inquiry could have been done by even a “Head Constable.”
Justice Mohan Lal expressed his displeasure with the trial court’s unwarranted observations, noting that the only issue before the trial court was whether to charge or discharge the accused based on the evidence gathered by the investigating agency throughout the investigation.
It was of the opinion that the petitioner, as the case’s investigator, had gathered all relevant evidence during the inquiry and had presented it to the trial Court in the form of a charge sheet in his best judgement.
The bench remarked that it was not at all necessary for the trial Court to have passed/recorded such harsh/disparaging statements about the petitioner (being I/O of the matter) in its ruling, especially because the trial Court had not even given the petitioner an opportunity to explain or defend himself.
Allowing the petition and removing the insulting statements against the petitioner, the bench urged the lower courts to exercise sobriety, moderation, and reserve, noting that the duty of restraint is a function of humility and should be a continual theme of our Judges.