LUCKNOW: On September 7, 2014, 15 trainee judges, who were soon to complete training at Lucknow’s Judicial Training and Research Institute, were caught in a drunken brawl at a local resort. Repercussion followed soon. The then Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court, Justice D Y Chandrachud, sought a report and the matter was taken up by a ‘full court’. Discharge simpliciter ordered all the 15 trainee judges sacked. In one stroke, 15 budding careers came to an abrupt end. All the 15 trainee judges filed individual petitions in the HC seeking relief. A two-judge bench of Justices S S Chauhan and Rajnish Kumar was constituted to take up the case.
The bench gave its judgment on July 3, 2018. The verdict: the previous order was revoked, and all the 15 trainee officers were reinstated. The judges said the trainees should get a chance as they were young and inexperienced when they committed the mistake. All newspapers reported the verdict. But, there was another twist in the tale on the morning of July 4. On the HC website, it was found that Justice Kumar had taken an opposite view and upheld the dismissals. Apparently, the verdict of two judges was uploaded separately.
“The petitioners, on account of their inexperience and being young officers, should have been given opportunity to improve rather than straightaway terminating them from service on the basis of the alleged incident. Some of them are married and have children and family has to survive and some of them are unmarried, who are likely to be married in near future and their marriage prospect has also been dimmed by the aforesaid incident,” Justice Chauhan said.
Justice Kumar held a contrary view. “A judge has to act at all times in a manner which upholds and promotes the good name, dignity and esteem of the office of a judicial officer and administration of justice.” Now, the Chief Justice will have to constitute a larger bench to settle the matter after the split verdict by the two-judge bench.