The Revival of Ray XXV

P.S. Malik, Additional District Judge [Dwarka, New Delhi], against whom disciplinary proceedings alleging sexual harassment is underway, filed a Writ Petition under Article 32. Supreme Court was quick to note that expression of opinion by the Court on the issues relevant and material in the disciplinary inquiry may cause prejudice. An important question was considered, nonetheless.

The word ‘control’ used in Article 235 has been held by Supreme Court to be disciplinary control [State of West Bengal v. Nripendra Nath Bagchi, AIR 1966 SC 447]; ‘control’, therefore is not merely the power to arrange the day to day working of the Court but contemplates disciplinary jurisdiction.

Hon’ble Justice Ashok Bhushan, in P.S. Malik v. High Court of Delhi, [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 705 of 2018] has held, “to the same effect is Three Judge Bench Judgment of this Court in Badrakanta Mishra v. High Court of Orissa, (1976) 3 SCC 327.”

The scope of Article 235 has been examined by this Court in several decisions. The effect of the decisions is this. The word ‘control’ as used in Article 235 includes disciplinary control over District Judges… The word ‘control’ is accompanied by the word ‘vest’ which shows that the High Court is made the sole custodian of the control… The word ‘deal’ in Article 235 also indicates that the control is over disciplinary and not mere administrative jurisdiction… The control which is vested in the High Court is complete control subject only to the power of the Governor…

– Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, Hon’ble Justice A.N. Ray, Badrakanta Mishra v. High Court of Orissa, (1976) 3 SCC 327.

Hon’ble Justice Ashok Bhushan also referred to Registrar (Admn.), High Court of Orissa, Cuttack, (1999) 7 SCC 725; Rajendra Singh Verma, (2011) 10 SCC 1 and concluded:

The provisions of Sections 11 and 13 of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 in no manner affect the control of the High Court under Article 235, which it has with respect to Judicial Officers… The power to suspend the Judicial Officer vests in the High Court. The Full Court of the High Court is in no manner precluded from initiating disciplinary inquiry against P.S. Malik and place P.S. Malik under suspension on being satisfied that sufficient material exists.”