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Judiciary

Supreme Court issues strict guidelines for High Courts on summoning govt officials to prevent unnecessary appearances [Read Judgment]

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      03 January, 2024 04:21 PM      0 Comments
Supreme Court Issues Strict Guidelines for High Courts on Summoning Govt Officials to Prevent Unnecessary Appearances

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday laid down a detailed Standard Operating Procedure, containing guidelines for personal appearance of government officials by the courts, saying that it is impermissible to summon them to exert pressure under the threat of contempt.

A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said all High Courts should consider framing rules to regulate the appearance of officials after taking into account the SOP.

The court said if the issues can be addressed through affidavits and other documents, personal presence may not be necessary and should not be directed as a routine measure.

The bench also said the courts must seek personal appearance through video conferencing, if necessary and rely upon affidavits.

The courts must refrain from making humiliating remarks against government officers on their appearance, dress, educational qualifications etc, the bench said.

The court also said the power of criminal contempt cannot be invoked against officials in routine manner.

“Summoning officials repeatedly instead of relying on law officers representing the government runs contrary to the scheme envisaged by the Constitution,” the bench said.

The apex court set aside the Allahabad High Court's contempt action against state government officials for non-compliance with its directions to provide domestic help and other facilities for retired judges.

On April 20, 2023, the top court had directed immediate release of senior IAS officers Uttar Pradesh's Finance Secretary S M A Rizvi and Special Secretary, Finance Saryu Prasad Mishra, who were taken into custody on April 19, 2023 on Allahabad High Court's order in a matter related to providing domestic help and other facilities to retired Chief Justices and other judges.

The court had then also stayed the High Court's division bench order seeking personal presence of Chief Secretary before the court on Thursday, April 20, 2023 to explain why contempt of court charges should not be framed against them.

[Read Judgment]
 



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