Bombay High Court Denies Relief To Judge Accused Of Being Intoxicated At Judicial Academy

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Case Title: Aniruddha Pathak vs Registrar General 

A division bench of Justices AS Chandurkar and Jitendra Jain of the Bombay High Court declined to grant any relief to a judicial officer who faced dismissal due to allegations of improper conduct.

While dismissing the plea submitted by the judicial officer, the principle was underscored by the bench that, Judges and judicial officers are expected to uphold the dignity of their positions and refrain from behaviors that could tarnish the judiciary’s reputation.

“It is a universally accepted norm that judges and judicial officers must act with dignity and must not indulge in a conduct or behavior which is likely to affect the image of judiciary or which unbecoming of a judicial officer. If the members of the judiciary indulge in a behaviour which is blameworthy or which is unbecoming of a judicial officer, the writ courts are not expected to intervene and grant relief to such a judicial officer”.

Pathak faced dismissal due to several allegations, including non-compliance with court schedules, frequent absences from court proceedings, and attending a judicial academy session while allegedly intoxicated.

Prior complaints from staff members also highlighted instances of Pathak appearing in court while under the influence of alcohol.

The bench declined Pathak’s petition for reinstatement, emphasizing that the judiciary does not support officers who engage in misconduct or actions unbecoming of their role.

In March 2010, Pathak was appointed as a civil judge in the junior division. However, following numerous complaints regarding his behavior, the principal judge of the Nandurbar district in Maharashtra submitted a report in February 2017 to the Registrar General of the High Court detailing concerns.

The report alleged that Pathak had attended court under the influence of alcohol. Additionally, several lawyers raised issues regarding his demeanor in court and the manner in which he conducted judicial proceedings.

In response to further complaints, a district judge from Jalgaon, Maharashtra, conducted a discreet inquiry in May 2017. Subsequently, officials from the Maharashtra Judicial Academy also reported instances of Pathak’s inappropriate behavior in 2018.

Consequently, in 2022, the law and judiciary department invoked the Maharashtra Civil Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules to dismiss Pathak from his position.

In challenging his dismissal before the High Court, Pathak refuted the allegations and argued that the punishment was disproportionate.

During the proceedings, the High Court observed that Pathak did not raise any claims of bias or malice against those who had lodged complaints against him. Consequently, the Court found no grounds to overturn the decision, noting the esteemed nature of the position Pathak held.

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