New Delhi, Oct 4 (UNI) The Supreme Court has taken a dim view of the increasing tendency among High Court judges to frequently summon top bureaucrats, including state Chief Secretaries, Secretaries to the Union Government as well as to the State Governments, just to demonstrate their power.
Interestingly, the judgement comes a day after the Delhi High Court quashed the order of an Additional Chief Metropoliton Magistrate seeking the appearance of the Delhi Police Commissioner, noting that some magistrates have the tendency of calling top police officers to courts ''to demonstrate their power''.
A bench comprising Justices A K Mathur and Markandey Katju in their judgment, setting aside the order of a single judge-bench of the Gujarat High Court directing the state Chief Secretary and state Law Secretary to be personally present in the court, observed, ''Hence, frequent, casual and lackadaisical summoning high officials by the court cannot be appreciated. We are constrained to make these observations because we are coming across a large number of cases where such orders summoning of high officials are being passed by the high court and often it is nothing but for the ego satisfaction of the learned judge.'' Justice R S Garg of Gujarat High Court, in his order dated April 11, 2007, had directed the state Chief Secretary and Gujarat law Secretary to be personaly present before his court on April 20, 2007 for explaning delay of 25 days in filing the appeal.
The Apex court also noted that a large number of cases have come up before this court, where we find that the learned Judges of various High Courts have been summoning the Chief Secretary, Secretaries to the government(Central and State), Director Generals of Police, Director CBI or BSF or other senior officials of the government.'' ''There is no doubt that the High Court has power to summon these officials, but in our opinion that should be done in very rare and exceptional cases when there are compelling circumstances to do so.
Such summoning orders should not be passed lightly or as a routine or at the drop of a hat,'' it said.
''Judges should have modesty and humanity. They should realise that summoning of senior official, except in some very rare and exceptional situation and that to for compelling reasons, is counter productive and it may also involve heavy expenses and valuable time of the official concered,'' they added.
The Apex court also said ''The judiciary must have respect for the executive and the legislature. Judges should realise that the officials like the Chief Secretary, Secretaries to the Government, Commisioner, District Megistrate and senior Police officials are extremely busy persons who are often working from morning till night. No doubt, the Minister lay down the policy but the actual implementation of the policy and day to day running of the government has to be done by the bureaucrats, and hence the bureaucrats are often working round the clock.'' The top court also noted ''The senior officials too have their self respect, and if the government give them respect they, in turn, will respect the court. Respect begets respect.'' ''We do not mean to say that in no circumstanses and on no occasion should an official be summoned by the court. In some extreme and compelling situation that may be done, but on such occasion also the senior officials must be given proper respect by the court and should not be humiliated. Such senior officials need not be made to stand all the time when the hearing is going on and they can be offered a chair by the court to sit.'' The seven page judgement has been written for the bench by Justice Katju.
The Supreme Court has directed its Secretary General to send the copy of the judgment to the Registrar General of all High Courts in the country for being circulated among the High Court Judges.