Wednesday, August 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Work restored to 3 HC judges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 27
In less than two months after work was withdrawn from Mr Justice Amar Bir Singh Gill, Mr Justice M.L. Singhal and Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chief Justice Arun B. Saharya today announced its restoration.

Though officials in the High Court are maintaining silence over the issue, sources confirm that announcement to this effect was made during a 15-minute formal meeting held with the Judges during the lunch hour.

Sources add that the announcement was made in less than 24 hours after a meeting was reportedly held between the High Court Chief Justice and the Chief Justice of India at New Delhi yesterday.

The announcement comes just a day before the expiry of a week’s time granted to a High Court advocate for impleading the three Judges as parties on a petition filed by him in the High Court challenging the withdrawal of work. An application for impleading the Judges as parties had, in fact, been filed by the petitioner, Dr Surya Parkash, on August 26.

Soon after the news regarding the restoration of work reached the staff, a wave of excitement swept through the High Court premises. The staff attached to the affected Judges distributed sweets. “The stand of the Judges has been vindicated,” was their comment.

Their work was ordered to be withdrawn on June 29, weeks after an inquiry into their alleged involvement in the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam was initiated by the Chief Justice.

Their names had reportedly figured in the confessional statements of PPSC suspended Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu’s alleged touts. Mr Justice Amar Bir Singh Gill and Mr Justice M.L. Singhal were accused of helping out their daughters in the selection process conducted by the commission, while Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill was blamed for recommending the name of the son of a Judge belonging to another High Court. All three Judges had categorically denied the allegations.

Soon after the issue regarding their alleged involvement was raised, the Chief Justice had initiated a fact-finding inquiry into their role and had taken the assistance of Punjab’s then Additional Director-General of Police (Intelligence), Mr A.P. Bhatnagar, and the then Inspector-General of Vigilance Bureau, Mr Chandershekhar.

Challenging the withdrawal of Judges, Dr Surya Parkash had claimed that the impugned orders were issued in violation of the provisions of the Constitution and the Judges (Inquiry) Act of 1968, besides the law laid down by the Supreme Court.

In his petition, Dr Parkash had further contended that “the Judges, neither alone, nor banded together, could place sanctions on a Judge”. Under the Constitution, the only action that could be taken against a Supreme Court or a High Court Judge was “impeachment and for that purpose a procedure had been prescribed”.

Giving details, he had added that “the Chief Justice of a High Court or the Supreme Court has not been empowered by any provision of the Constitution or any Act or Rule in existence to conduct an inquiry into alleged misbehaviour by the High Court Judges and punish him by way of withdrawal of work resulting in a dent on the independence of the judiciary”.

Taking up the petition, a Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall, had granted the petitioner an opportunity to implead the Judges as parties in the case. The Bench had ruled that the opportunity was being granted so that the Judges may present their cause before the court”.


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