The Supreme Court on Friday ruled sternly that any judge who showed leniency towards a rapist did not know the law and did not deserve to serve judicial office. It was upholding the compulsory retirement of the judge from northern India.
Additional sessions judge Raj Kumar of the Uttar Pradesh had released a person on parole under the Probation of Offenders Act holding that he had already served a sentence of more than 15 months. Whereas Indian law provides for a minimum sentence of 10 years rigorous imprisonment for such crimes. Even a life term is permissible apart from fine.
Horrified by such considerateness, a lawyer raised a complaint of judicial misconduct against the judge and the Allahabad High Court, in turn, recommended his compulsory retirement. The UP state government accepted the recommendation. Raj Kumar had challenged his compulsory retirement before the apex court.
But a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal dismissed his appeal saying that such presiding officers had no place in the judiciary.
Raj Kumar's counsel argued that the officer had had a good track record otherwise and hence should have been shown some leniency. After all this was the first error committed by him.
But an unrelenting Chief Justice retorted, "You (the judge) may have been very efficient, but on what basis could a person convicted of raping a minor be released on parole when the law provides for a minimum sentence of 10 years extendable to life imprisonment?"
"The judges must understand what is law. You are only compulsorily retired though you could have been dismissed for this. We do not want judicial officers who do not understand law," said the Bench dismissing Kumar's appeal.