Gauhati High Court: Ajai Lamba, CJ while addressing the present petition observed that,
“…the protection available under the Judges (Protection) Act, 1985 is absolute and is available not only to a sitting Judge but also to an Ex-Judge in respect of the actions taken or words spoken by him while discharging his official or judicial functions.”
Present petition has been filed to seek issuance of a writ of certiorari for quashing the Order wherein the petitioner was directed to show cause as to why the dead cow was disposed of without informing the trial court.
Petitioner has also sought to quash an order whereby the petitioner was asked to show cause as to why contempt proceedings be not initiated against him for not complying with Order dated 28-07-2020 issued in connection to giving zimma of 4 seized vehicles.
Analysis and Decision
It has been noted that the petition is directed against a Judicial Magistrate who passed orders in his judicial capacity.
Bench referred to the following paragraphs in the Supreme Court’s decision of Anowar Hussain v. Ajoy Kumar Mukherjee,1965 SCC OnLine SC 1 in the context of provisions of Judicial Officers’ Protection Act, 1850:
9. In this appeal, the only question raised is that in ordering the arrest of the respondent the appellant acted in discharge of his judicial duties, and he was on that account protected by the Judicial Officers’ Protection Act, 1850. Section 1 of the Act, in so far as it is material, provided:
“No Judge, Magistrate, ° ° ° Collector or other person acting judicially shall be liable to be sued in any Civil Court for any act done or ordered to be done by him in the discharge of his judicial duty, whether or not within the limits of his jurisdiction: Provided that he at the time, in good faith, believed himself to have jurisdiction to do or order the act complained of; ° ° °”.
10. The statute is clearly intended to grant protection to Judicial Officers against suits in respect of acts done or ordered to be done by them in the discharge of their duties as such officers. The statute it must be noticed protects a Judicial Officer only when he is acting in his judicial capacity and not in any other capacity. But within the limits of its operation it grants large protection to Judges and Magistrates acting in the discharge of their judicial duties. If the act done or ordered to be done in the discharge of judicial duties is within his jurisdiction, the protection is absolute and no enquiry will be entertained whether the act done or ordered was erroneously, irregularly or even illegally, or was done or ordered without believing in good faith, that he had jurisdiction to do or order the act complained of. If the act done or ordered is not within the limits of his jurisdiction, the Judicial Officer acting in the discharge of his judicial duties is still protected, if at the time of doing or ordering the act complained of, he in good faith believed himself to have jurisdiction to do or order the act. The expression “jurisdiction” does not mean the power to do or order the act impugned, but generally, the authority of the Judicial Officer to act in the matter Tayen v. Ram Lal, ILR 12 All 115.
Court also referred to Section 3(1) of the Judges (Protection) Act, 1985 which directs that no Court shall entertain any civil or criminal proceeding against any person who is or was a Judge for any act, thing or word committed, done or spoken by him, or in the course of, acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official and judicial duty or function.
On perusal of the above, it is apparent that the Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate was acting in the discharge of his judicial duty while passing the impugned orders.
Hence, the actions of the Judge, stand protected by virtue of the Judges (Protection) Act, 1985 (subject to the provision of sub-section 2 of Section 3 of the Act of 1985).
Court also added to its analysis that,
If in passing every wrong or illegal judicial order, the concerned Judge is sued before the higher judicial forum, it shall result in demoralising the judicial officers, particularly, at the adjudicating level, other than the public losing faith in the judiciary.
In view of the above-stated position, Court dismissed the petition with costs of Rs 10,000 to be recovered from the salary of petition and deposited with Assam State Legal Services Authority.
While parting with the decision, Court added petitioner can challenge the impugned orders by virtue of the present petition before appropriate forum, however without impleading Judicial Officer or the High Court. [Rahendra Baglari v. Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate, WP (C) No. 3057 of 2020, decided on 15-09-2020]