Apex court snubs one of its judges, revokes his ruling

February 21st, 2008 - 7:54 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday snubbed one of its judges by scrapping his controversial direction to the Uttar Pradesh government to restore the provision of anticipatory bail in the state. A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, revoked the Jan 29 directions by Justice Markandeay Katju, saying: “Remarks (for restoration of law for anticipatory bail) made by Justice Katju shall not be the part of the judgement because remarks were not related to the subject matter of the case which was before the court.”

The bench, which also included Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice J.M. Panchal, divested Katju’s order of the strength of a valid judicial direction, observing that another judge on the bench, Justice H.K. Sema, did not agree with Justice Katju’s directions.

Accordingly, Katju’s directions cannot be treated as a binding judicial direction on the state government, the bench of the chief justice ruled.

The issue related to the criminal liability of an executive of Bangalore-based multinational company, Hewlett Packard Global Soft Ltd, in the rape and murder of a woman employee of the firm on her way back home from office at night.

While both judges, Justice Sema and Justice Katju, held the firm’s former managing director Som Mittal liable for his failure to provide requisite safety to the employee on duty during night, Katju in his separate judgement went beyond the issues involved in the ruling.

Katju dwelt on the hardships of Uttar Pradesh residents owing to the absence of law for anticipatory bail in the state, and instructed the Uttar Pradesh government to restore the law for anticipatory bail in the state.

It was this abrupt direction to the state government that made the ruling unconventional.

Sema referred the Jan 29 judgement of his bench to the three-judge bench of the chief justice, noting that he was making the reference following “difference of opinion on certain legal actions” between him and Katju.

After hearing the arguments Feb 5, the chief justice’s bench reserved its verdict saying that the issue appears to be about whether there could be a “judgement within a judgement”.

Laying down a cardinal principal of writing judicial verdicts, the bench headed by the chief justice Thursday said a judgement on an issue cannot be passed in a void without the court having been called upon to examine the issue.

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