Complaints Against Subordinate Judiciary-Guidelines

“The aforesaid act of yours is indicative of some extraneous considerations which tantamount to gross judicial impropriety, judicial indiscipline, lack of integrity, gross misconduct and an act of unbecoming of a Judicial Officer”

“we are in no manner indicating that if a judicial officer passes a wrong order, then no action is to be taken. In case a judicial officer passes orders which are against settled legal norms but there is no allegation of any extraneous influences leading to the passing of such orders then the appropriate action which the High Court should take is to record such material on the administrative side and place it on the service record of the judicial officer concerned. These matters can be taken into consideration while considering career progression of the concerned judicial officer. Once note of the wrong order is taken and they form part of the service record these can be taken into consideration to deny selection grade, promotion etc., and in case there is a continuous flow of wrong or illegal orders then the proper action would be to compulsorily retire the judicial officer, in accordance with the Rules. We again reiterate that unless there are clear-cut allegations of misconduct, extraneous influences, gratification of any kind etc., disciplinary proceedings should not be initiated merely on the basis that a wrong order has been passed by the judicial officer or merely on the ground that the judicial order is incorrect”. 


Guidelines- Complaints Against Subordinate Judiciary

Complaints / Grievances

A complaint/grievance cell is functioning in Hon’ble High Court of Kerala. Any genuine written complaints regarding the functioning of courts or staff working in the courts shall be send along with full name and address of the complainant to the below-mentioned address:

The Registrar (Subordinate Judiciary),

Hon’ble High Court of Kerala,

Kochi- 682031.

Guidelines for dealing with complaints against the Subordinate Judiciary

The Following guidelines should be followed while making complaints againt the members of the subordinate judiciary,

  1. The complaint making allegations against the members of subordinate judiciary shall not be entertained unless it is accompanied by a duly sworn affidavit and variable material to substantiate the allegations made therein.

  2. The action on such complaint meeting the above requirement is deemed necessary authenticity of the complaint should be duly ascertained and further steps will be taken after satisfaction of the competent authority designated by the Chief Justice of the High Court.

  3. If the above requirements rare not complied with, the complaint shall be filed/loged without taking any steps thereon.__________________

SC Guidelines: complaint against a subordinate judge


5. We do not want to refer to too many judgments because this position has been laid down in a large number of cases but it would be pertinent to refer to the observations of this Court in Ishwar Chand Jain Vs. High Court of Punjab & Haryana and another [1 (1988) 3 SCC 370], wherein this Court held as follows:

“14. Under the Constitution the High Court has control over the subordinate judiciary. While exercising that control it is under a constitutional obligation to guide and protect judicial officers. An honest strict judicial officer is likely to have adversaries in the mofussil courts. If complaints are entertained on trifling matters relating to judicial orders which may have been upheld by the High Court on the judicial side no judicial officer would feel protected and it would be difficult for him to discharge his duties in an honest and independent manner. An independent and honest judiciary is a sine qua non for rule of law. If judicial officers are under constant threat of complaint and enquiry on trifling matters and if High Court encourages anonymous complaints to hold the field the subordinate judiciary will not be able to administer justice in an independent and honest manner. It is therefore imperative that the High Court should also take steps to protect its honest officers by ignoring ill-conceived or motivated complaints made by the unscrupulous lawyers and litigants. Having regard to facts and circumstances of the instant case we have no doubt in our mind that the resolution passed by the Bar Association against the appellant was wholly unjustified and the complaints made by Shri Mehlawat and others were motivated which did not deserve any credit. Even the vigilance Judge after holding enquiry did not record any finding that the appellant was guilty of any corrupt motive or that he had not acted judicially. All that was said against him was that he had acted improperly in granting adjournments.” [

6. Thereafter, following the dicta laid down in Union of India & Ors. Vs. A.N. Saxena [ (1992) 3 SCC 124] and Union of India & Ors. Vs. K.K. Dhawan[(1993) 2 SCC 56], this Court in P.C. Joshi Vs. State of U.P. & Ors.[(2001) 6 SCC 491] held as follows:

“7. In the present case, though elaborate enquiry has been conducted by the enquiry officer, there is hardly any material worth the name forthcoming except to scrutinize each one of the orders made by the appellant on the judicial side to arrive at a different conclusion. That there was possibility on a given set of facts to arrive at a different conclusion is no ground to indict a judicial officer for taking one view and that too for alleged misconduct for that reason alone. The enquiry officer has not found any other material, which would reflect on his reputation or integrity or good faith or devotion to duty or that he has been actuated by any corrupt motive. At best he may say that the view taken by the appellant is not proper or correct and not attribute any motive to him which is for extraneous consideration that he had acted in that manner. If in every case where an order of a subordinate court is found to be faulty a disciplinary action were to be initiated, the confidence of the subordinate judiciary will be shaken and the officers will be in constant fear of writing a judgment so as not to face a disciplinary enquiry and thus judicial officers cannot act independently or fearlessly. Indeed the words of caution are given in K.K. Dhawan case and A.N. Saxena case that merely because the order is wrong or the action taken could have been different does not warrant initiation of disciplinary proceedings against the judicial officer. In spite of such caution, it is unfortunate that the High Court has chosen to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the appellant in this case.”

Elements of Judicial Behaviour – Ethics, Neutrality and Professionalism

1. The Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, (The Bangalore Draft Code of Judicial Conduct 2001 adopted by the Judicial Group on Strengthening Judicial Integrity, as revised at the Round Table Meeting of Chief Justices held at the
Peace Palace, The Hague, November 25-26, 2002.

2. Restatement of Values of Judicial Life, (as adopted by full bench of supreme court on 7th May 1997.

3. Krishna Prasad Verma (D) THR. LRS. vs. State of Bihar, ( Supreme Court in Civil Appeal No. 8950 of 2011)

4. Judicial Observations on Judicial Ethics, Integrity, Misconduct, Discipline and Corruption:  State vs. Chief Editor, Manabjamin and others, Supreme Court of Bangladesh, LEX/BDHC/0113/2002

Indian Court Cases

  • C. Ravichandran Iyer vs. Justice A.M. Bhattacharjee and Ors., (1995)5SCC457
  •  K.P. Singh vs. High Court of H.P. & ors. 2011(3)KLJ11
  •  R.C. Chandel v. High Court of M.P., (2012) 8 SCC 58
  •  M. Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy v. The Hon’ble High Court of A.P. rep. by its Registrar and Anr
  •  Rajesh Kohli vs. High Court of J. and K. and Anr. (2010)12SCC783

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