Bombay HC refuses to initiate contempt proceedings against magistrate

In a reprieve for a civil judge from Ratnagiri, the Bombay High Court on Thursday refused to initiate contempt proceedings against him. The HC, however, ordered the Principal Judge of the district to keep a watch on the magistrate's work and also to randomly scrutinise his judgments to see if he is following the Supreme Court's precedents in deciding cases.

A Bench of Justices Sambhaji Shinde and Makarand Karnik said, "We hope and trust that in future the Magistrate will exercise his judicious mind while dealing with judicial work with greater care, caution and circumspection."

"The Principal District Judge is ordered to monitor his performance for one year henceforth by randomly checking the judgments and orders and keep the High Court informed, if required, for necessary action," the bench added.

The Bench was dealing with an advocate's plea seeking to issue contempt proceedings against the judge Vikram Jadhav.

In his plea the advocate claimed that in several of his matters before Judge Jadhav, he did not consider the decisions of the Supreme Court, cited by him to buttress his case.

Having considered the plea, the judges noted that once Jadhav was sent for legal counseling and accordingly was advised to follow the SC verdicts while deciding the cases before him.

The bench said, "If the judges of the subordinate courts were to commit some error in discharge of his/her official or judicial duty or functions that per se cannot be the basis to proceed against the judicial officer."

"In the case in hand though there is negligence but the same cannot be termed as willful breach or willful disobedience at the hands of Jadhav," the judges added, while disposing the case.

The Bench also noted that Judge Jadhav was recently counselled at the HC's administrative side and accordingly refused to initiate contempt proceedings against him.

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