Judicial Magistrate’s Judgments and Order to be monitored by the Sessions Judge – Bombay High Court

In a contempt petition filed by the Petitioner against the Judicial Magistrate, the High Court observed that the Judicial Magistrate did not acknowledge any of the superior court’s judgments that are binding on him. Thus, the Bombay High Court instructed the Sessions Judge to monitor all the judgments and orders passed by the magistrate for one year. This was laid down by Justice V. G. Bhist in the case of Yogesh Waman Athavle vs. Vikram Abasaheb Jadhav & Ors. [Contempt Petition No. 127 of 2019].

The facts of the case are that the Petitioner is an advocate practising in the court of the Judicial Magistrate that is the Respondent in the case. The Petitioner contended that on several occasions the Petitioner cited and submitted judgments of the superior courts but the Magistrate wilfully ignored the judgments and failed to follow precedents laid down by the superior courts. The Petitioner presented 4 instances where the Magistrate consistently and willfully did not follow the binding precedent laid down by the superior courts. Hence, the Petitioner filed a contempt petition against the Magistrate under Article 215 of the constitution and several sections of the Contempt of Court’s Act, 1971. The Respondent had argued that the actions of the Magistrate have already been noted and he has been summoned and counselled by the Principal Judge of the district.

The Division bench of the Bombay High Court took note of the actions of the judicial magistrate and stated that the actions of the magistrate display non-application of the ‘judicial mind’. The Court further stated that “We prima facie intuitively feel that learned Counsel for the petitioner is right when he laments approach of respondent No.1 vis-a-vis the above-noted authorities/ pronouncements. Common sense would prompt the conclusion that respondent No.1 ought to have carefully gone through the decisions and the ratio laid down therein and then would have formed an opinion about the applicability or otherwise of the same.”

The Court did not take any action against the magistrate as there were no unwarranted remarks by him and nor was there any wilful disobedience by him. However, the High Court instructed the Principal District and Sessions Judge to review the performance of the Magistrate and to review all his judgments and orders for a period of one year and in case of any misconduct, the same must be reported to the High Court.

With the above directions, Contempt Petition stands disposed of.

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Judgement reviewed by-Sarita Kumari

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