Himachal HC censures hobnobbing of public prosecutors with politicians

Shimla, July 6 The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Wednesday took a serious view of the hobnobbing of public prosecutors with politicians to get orders of transfer of their convenience. It wondered “how with these falling standards can the public repose any trust or confidence on them”.

The court ordered that no public prosecutor, assistant district attorney and district attorney would be transferred on the basis of demi-official notes and the transfers would be effected in accordance with the Comprehensive Guidelines of 2013, that too only by the administrative authority.

A division bench comprising Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Chander Bhusan Barowalia passed the order on a petition of public prosecutor Tarsem Kumar.

According to the petitioner, the MLA from Nagrota Bagwan issued a demi-official note on March 15 for his transfer at the behest of his colleague Shikha Rana.

Both the petitioner and the private respondent procured the demi-official note separately from the MLA for securing their transfers.

The respondent pleaded that the petitioner himself was transferred from Nurpur to Dalhousie in 2018 but he managed to get his transfer cancelled through a demi-official note by the MLA.

It was averred that the petitioner, being in charge of a prosecution case at that time, procured the note from legislator Rakesh Pathania, who himself was undergoing trial in the court.

The court observed that it has specifically come on record that a criminal case is pending against one of the MLAs, who issued a demi-official note in favour of the respondent in that very court where the respondent has been posted.

The bench wondered whether with these falling standards can the public repose any trust or confidence on the prosecutor as being fair and impartial.

Since both the petitioner and the private respondent are beneficiaries of the demi-official notes, the court ordered to transfer and post them out of Kangra district.

Commenting on the act and conduct of the public prosecutor, the judges observed that a public prosecutor occupies a statutory office of high regard. “Rather than a part of the investigating agency, they are instead an independent statutory authority. The role of the public prosecutor is intrinsically dedicated to conduct a fair trial and, therefore, it does not behove well that these attorneys be seen hobnobbing with the politicians or socializing with the public.”

“The conduct and behaviour expected of them is nothing short of that expected of a judicial officer,” said the judges.

They observed that since both the petitioner and the respondent have feigned ignorance regarding the working and ethics of the department, “it gives an impression that probably such public prosecutors, who are now being inducted in service, are not at all aware of the status they hold and the conduct and behaviour that is expected of them by virtue of their office alone”.

The court ordered that all public prosecutors inducted in service over the last 15 years, irrespective of their rank as assistant public prosecutor or public prosecutor, should undergo a refresher course laying special emphasis on ethics, morality and conduct expected in the Himachal Pradesh Judicial Academy in Shimla.

The Director of the Himachal Pradesh Judicial Academy was directed to design such a course within four weeks and thereafter they be provided training or refresher courses on a batch wise basis stretched over a period of two months.

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