Rajinder Goel V. High Court of Punjab & Haryana & Ars.
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 696 of 2021, Decided on August 02, 2021
BENCH: Uday Umesh Lalit, J., Ajay Rastogi, J.
The Petitioner in the captioned case filed a petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India seeking appropriate writ, order or direction in the nature of Certiorari to quash the recommendation dated 14.12.2020 made by the Full Court of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana recommending compulsory retirement of the Petitioner herein from the post of the Additional District and Sessions Judge and order dated 05.01.2021 passed by the Governor of Haryana accepting the recommendations made by the Full Court of the said High Court and directing compulsory retirement of the Petitioner with immediate effect.
The Petitioner herein joined the Haryana Judicial Services on 16.02.1996 and was subsequently promoted to the Haryana Superior Judicial Services in the year 2008. However, in furtherance to the complaints received against the Petitioner (including one from the Bar Association), an enquiry was conducted whereby the Petitioner was asked to furnish the statements regarding his bank accounts and properties from the year 2006 to 2009. In furtherance to the same, a preliminary report dated 21.04.2011 found that there was no documentary evidence regarding the purchase of lands in the name of the Petitioner, however, evidence of unexplained bank transactions were reported in the said report. Further pursuant to the review of the said report by the Administrative Committee of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana on 03.08.2011, a disciplinary proceedings were initiated against the Petitioner and the Committee recommended to put the Petitioner under suspension. That in accordance to the disciplinary proceedings, the Full Court ordered dated 05.08.2011 that the Vigilance/Disciplinary Committee proceedings be initiated against the Petitioner and the Petitioner shall remain suspended till the completion of the proceedings.
Subsequently on 26.04.2012, a charge sheet was served upon the Petitioner whereby he was accused of misconduct in regards of judicial ethics in respect to depositing and withdrawing large sums of money without giving any specific reason for the same. On 23.05.2016, a report was submitted by the Inquiry Authority wherein the Petitioner was found to be guilty of unexplained transactions. Further, a show cause notice was issued to the Petitioner on 29.08.2016 and the reply was made by the Petitioner on 15.02.2017. The matter was further taken to the Full Court of the High Court which further rejected the Disciplinary Committee’s findings dated 18.12.2019 and ordered for a compulsory retirement of the Petitioner as a measure of penalty from the membership of Haryana Superior Judicial service.
Hence, aggrieved, the Petitioner herein approached the Hon’ble Supreme Court by filing a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India.
i. Whether the recommendation dated 14.12.2020 passed by the Full Court of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana in regards of the compulsory retirement of the Petitioner from the post of the Additional District and Sessions Judge was justified and good in law?
ii. Whether the order dated 05.01.2021 passed by the Governor of Haryana accepting the recommendation made by the Full Court of the High Court of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana directing for a compulsory retirement of the Petitioner was in constitutional infirmity?
The Supreme Court of India in the present case deciding upon both the issues held the records indicating that there were multiple transactions showing deposits and withdrawals of substantial amounts of money by the Petitioner herein, it cannot be said that the Full Court was not justified. Therefore, the Hon’ble Supreme Court was in covenant with the Full Court that the inquiry reports were justified and considering the gravity of the matter and standards of ethics required of a Senior Judicial Officer, major penalty of compulsory retirement be imposed upon the delinquent officer under Rule 4(1)(viii) of the Haryana Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1987 (corresponding Rule 4(b)(v) of the Haryana Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 2016). The Hon’ble Court further rejected the Petition filed by the Petitioner herein under Article 32 of the Constitution of India and also rejected the application filed by the Petitioner seeking to withdraw the said petition and approach the High Court invoking its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India as the Petitioner earlier denied to exhaust his remedy to approach the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.