New Delhi, May 14 - A trial court can continue hearing a complaint against a sitting judicial officer without the high court's permission, but needs the state chief justice's sanction for ordering registration of a criminal case against him, the Delhi High Court has ruled.
A bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and S P Garg directed the trial court to go ahead with the hearing of a woman's compliant for lodging a criminal case against a sitting judge for allegedly confining her illegally and molesting her.
The bench, however, directed the trial judge to obtain the sanction of the high court's chief justice if he recommends for lodging of an FIR against the judge.
"The Criminal Procedure Code, does not mandate that the permission of this court is required first to proceed with a complaint case disclosing commission of cognisable or non-cognisable offence.
"The only bar to protect the independence of the judiciary is that there can be no registration of an FIR against a judicial officer without seeking the permission of the chief justice of this court," the bench said.
The high court gave the ruling, setting aside th trial court order directing the woman to seek permission from high court to proceed with her complaint case against the judge.
On April 30, the woman was directed to obtain the high court's permission for hearing over her complaint against an officer of the Delhi Judicial Service (DJS). She had accused the judicial officer of committing offences punishable under sections 341 (illegal confinement), 354 (assault to a woman with an intention to outrage her modesty, 499 (defamation) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC.
"Since no FIR has been ordered to be registered against the judicial officer, the impugned order directing the petitioner (woman) to obtain the permission / sanction of this court cannot be sustained and is set aside.
"However, it is made clear that in case the trial court comes to the conclusion that an FIR is required to be registered against the judicial officer for committing the offences alleged in the complaint case, that order shall be kept in abeyance till the chief justice of this court grants permission in this regard, " the court said.
The bench said since the trial court has not yet formed its opinion to direct registration of an FIR against the judge or rejection of the complaint, it is pre-mature for the petitioner to approach this court. PTI