Should Not Attribute Motives to Judicial Officers for Their Zeal, Says SC in Private Detective Case
The bench said it would not be proper to look at the conduct of the judicial officers with suspicion only because they speed up certain cases or refuse to grant adjournments.
Illustration by Mir Suhail/News18.com
New Delhi: Supporting judicial officers, the Supreme Court has said that motives should not be attributed to them merely for showing zeal to expedite hearing of cases.
A bench headed by Justice R Banumathi said it would not be proper to look at the conduct of the judicial officers with suspicion only because they speed up certain cases or refuse to grant adjournments.
The court said it while setting aside an order of the Bombay High Court, which had transferred a case from one MCOCA judge to another judge since the first judge had expedited the bail hearing.
The case involved a private detective, who was arrested in November 2017 for allegedly extorting Rs 1 crore from a suspended IAS officer of Maharashtra.
Satish Sakharam Mangle, who ran a private detective agency, and his second wife Shraddha, were reportedly caught red-handed by the Thane Anti-Extortion Cell while accepting money from former Maharashtra State Roads Development Corporation vice-chairman and managing director Radheshyam Mopalwar.
Mangle reportedly also played a role in getting Mopalwar suspended from his post after a sting operation of his alleged corrupt deals were highlighted in the print and electronic media last year. The bureaucrat subsequently approached the Anti-Extortion Cell and got Mangle apprehended.
He also moved a transfer plea before the Bombay High Court, alleging bias by the MCOCA judge. According to Mopalwar, the MCOCA judge had shown unjustifiable haste in hearing the bail plea by the accused, without giving the prosecution adequate time and opportunity to reply.
Persuaded by his submissions, the High Court had in June transferred the case to another MCOCA judge in Thane.
Mangle appealed against this order before the Supreme Court, which disapproved of the direction passed by the High Court.
“Without going into the merits of the matter, we are constrained to observe that the High Court was not right in finding fault with the officer (MCOCA Judge from whom the case was transferred) for trying to expedite the hearing of the bail application,” said the bench.
It perused the materials on record that formed the basis of the High Court’s reason to withdraw the matter from the MCOCA judge and noted that the grounds enunciated in the transfer order were not cogent enough.
“In our view, for mere zest by judicial officer in taking up the bail application and expediting the hearing, no motive could be attributed to the judicial officer. Merely because the officer expedited the hearing, it could not have been made a ground for transfer,” said the top court.
However, in order to balance the interests of both the sides, the bench held that the senior-most judge, MCOCA, in Mumbai should now hear this case so as to dispel all suspicions and contentions.
“We are of the view that interests of justice would be served by transferring Special Case bearing NO.1 of 2018 pending before the Special Court under the MCOCA at Thane to the senior most MCOCA Judge, Mr. VS Padalkar, at Mumbai,” directed the bench, asking the Maharashtra government to issue the requisite notification to this effect within a week.
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