The Madras High Court on Monday confirmed the dismissal of a principal district judge from service after finding him guilty of having received illegal gratification to grant bail to an accused in a child sexual abuse case. The court held that the punishment imposed on him was commensurate with the seriousness of the misconduct committed by him.

A Division Bench of Justices M. Venugopal and N. Nirmal Kumar rejected a writ petition filed by K. Ganesan, challenging a Government Order issued by the Public Department on April 24, 2017, dismissing him from service. They pointed out that the G.O. had been issued only on the basis of a recommendation made by a majority of the Madras High Court judges.

The Bench said the petitioner had joined judicial service as a district munsif-cum-judicial magistrate through the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission in November 1988, and had served in various districts over a period of 24 years. He was holding the post of the principal district judge, Tirupur, when he was about to complete 58 years of age on November 30, 2012.

Nevertheless, considering his past records of service, the High Court, on November 23, 2012, extended his service for two more years, and on September 16, 2014, suspended him from service, pending an enquiry into allegations of corruption against him. The action was initiated on the basis of a complaint lodged by the father of a victim of child sexual abuse.

Subsequently, Justice K. Ravichandrabaabu of the High Court was appointed as the enquiry officer, and he found the writ petitioner guilty on August 10, 2016. The enquiry officer found the district judge to have granted bail to the accused on the ground that the public prosecutor had not raised any serious objection, though the reality was otherwise.

Filing of chargesheet

On perusing the records, the officer found that the prosecution had filed a counter-affidavit, vehemently objecting to the grant of bail. He also summoned and recorded the statement of the public prosecutor that the latter did raise strong objections to the grant of bail. The writ petitioner did not submit any evidence to disprove the statement.

Further, the petitioner, during the enquiry, claimed to have granted bail only because a chargesheet had been filed in the case. But a bare reading of the bail order clearly showed that he was not even aware of the chargesheet having been filed. The petitioner was also found guilty of having granted bail with simple conditions for extraneous considerations.

The enquiry officer’s report was placed before the High Court’s Administrative Committee (comprising seven senior judges) which, on August 30, 2016 decided to dismiss the petitioner from service. The decision was approved by a majority of judges in the full court meeting held on January 10, 2017, and forwarded to the government for necessary action.

Now, authoring the judgment for the Division Bench, Mr. Justice Venugopal said the punishment was neither irrational nor disproportionate. He said a charge need not be proved with rigid mathematical demonstration, as it was impossible to do so. It was sufficient to prove a charge with evidence that would induce a reasonable man to come to a particular conclusion, he said.

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