New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a judicial officer's plea challenging his suspension by the Patna High Court and the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against him.
The plea by Shashi Kant Rai, an additional district and sessions judge (ADJ) in Araria in Bihar, came up for hearing before a bench of Justices U U Lalit and S R Bhat.
Rai said in his plea that he "reasonable believes" there is an "institutional bias" against him as he concluded the trial in a POCSO case involving the rape of a six-year-old girl in a single day. In another case, he awarded capital punishment to an accused in four working days of trial. These verdicts were widely reported and appreciated by the government and public, he said.
The apex court bench issued notice on the plea and granted liberty to the petitioner to serve the standing counsel for the state.
"Issue notice returnable in two weeks," the bench said. "The response to the petition shall indicate the steps taken pursuant to the order of suspension which is presently under challenge and place all the concerned documents on record," it added.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh appeared for the petitioner in the matter.
The plea alleged that the "non-speaking" order of February 8, 2022 passed by the high court keeping the petitioner under suspension with immediate effect is "manifestly arbitrary and violates the principles of natural justice".
"There is no reliance placed on any material while arriving at the said decision. The order merely states that disciplinary proceedings are pending against the petitioner and therefore, in exercise of the powers under Sub-rule (1) of Rule 6 of the Bihar Judicial Service (Classification, Control & Appeal) Rules, 2020 places the petitioner under suspension," it said.
The plea claimed the petitioner had only sought for consideration restoration of seniority on the basis of new evaluation system introduced by the high court, which issued show cause notice and later suspended him without giving any reasons merely for questioning the process of evaluation of judgements.
The petitioner had joined the Bihar Judicial Services in 2007.