The bench said the dignity and majesty of the court is not enhanced when an officer is called to court
Supreme Court. Credit: Reuters file photo
Maintaining that public officers shouldn’t be called to court unnecessarily, the Supreme Court on Friday said judges must know their limits and they must have modesty and humility, and not behave like emperors.
“A practice has developed in certain High Courts to call officers at the drop of a hat and to exert direct or indirect pressure,” a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta said.
The court said in fact the line of separation of powers between judiciary and executive was sought to be crossed by summoning the officers and in a way pressurising them to pass an order as per the whims and fancies of the court.
“Summoning of officers frequently is not appreciable at all. The same is liable to be condemned in the strongest words,” the bench said.
The top court’s strong observations came in a judgement on an appeal by the Uttar Pradesh government against the Allahabad High Court’s order concerning back wages of a medical officer. The HC had, in the case, issued summons to secretary, medical health department.
Deprecating the practice, the top court said summoning of the officer is against the public interest as many important tasks entrusted to him gets delayed, creating extra burden on the officer or delaying the decisions awaiting his opinion.
“Public officers of the executive are also performing their duties as the third limbs of the governance. The actions or decisions by the officers are not to benefit them, but as a custodian of public funds and in the interest of administration, some decisions are bound to be taken,” it noted.
The court cited its judgment reported as Divisional Manager, ‘Aravali Golf Club and Anr vs Chander Hass and Anr’, where it was stated that judges must know their limits. They must have modesty and humility, and not behave like emperors.
The bench said the dignity and majesty of the court is not enhanced when an officer is called to court.
“Respect to the court has to be commanded and not demanded and the same is not enhanced by calling public officers. The presence of public officer comes at the cost of other official engagement demanding their attention,” the bench pointed out.
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