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Allahabad High Court Cracks Down Seriously On Alleged Misconduct In The Lucknow District Courts And Issues Important Directions

It is certainly most significant to note that as recently as on May 6, 2024, a Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court at Lucknow comprising of Hon’ble Mr Justice Ranjan Roy and so also Hon’ble Mr Justice Om Prakash Shukla in a most learned, landmark, laudable, logical and latest judgment titled Anil Kumar Khanna vs State of UP Thru. Prin. Secy. Home Lko. And Others in Criminal Misc. Writ Petition No.-8810 of 2023 & Ors addressed a series of writ petitions that primarily were concerned with allegations of land grabbing, threats to the litigants and so also most chillingly brazen attempts to disrupt the court proceedings in the Lucknow court premises. We need to take into account that the Court’s observations and directives in this matter form the cornerstone of this notable judgment and must be implemented most promptly in totality. No denying it! It definitely brooks no more delay any longer!

At the very outset, this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment authored by the Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court at Lucknow comprising of Hon’ble Mr Justice Ranjan Roy and Hon’ble Mr Justice Om Prakash Shukla sets the ball in motion by first and foremost putting forth in the opening para of this robust judgment that, “This is a bunch of petitions, involving allegations of land/house grabbing, threatening the litigants, attempts to interfere/disrupt court proceedings at District Court Lucknow including allegations against some lawyers regarding misuse of their position, police personnel as also connivance between them apart from other issues.”

In Re: CRLP 8810 of 2023 and CRLP 3537 of 2023

As we see, the Division Bench then points out in the next para of this brief judgment specifying that, “Rejoinder affidavit filed today is taken on record. Criminal Misc. writ petition Nos. 3537 of 2023 and 8810 of 2023 be put up tomorrow i.e., on 07.05.2024, all other matters shall now come up on 29.05.2024.”

In Re: Writ C- 9925 of 2010

As it turned out, the Division Bench then observes in the next para of this precise judgment that, “Sri Anurag Kumar Singh, learned counsel seeks two weeks’ further time to file the affidavit as was required to be filed by the earlier order dated 01.05.2024. Two weeks’ time is granted for complying the earlier order dated 01.05.2024.””

In Re: CRLP 3500 of 2023

Further, the Division Bench states and directs in the next para that, “Time is sought by learned AGA in Writ petition No.3500 of 2023 for complying the earlier order dated 01.05.2024. A week’s and no more time is granted for compliance of the said order. The amendment application referred to in our earlier order is lying defective, the petitioner should remove the defect.”

In Re: CRLP 9881 of 2023

Truth be told, the Division Bench then reveals in the next para that, “None appears for the petitioner. It is informed that chargesheet has been prepared against the petitioner and has been sent to supervisory authority on 20.12.2023.”

Furthermore, the Division Bench then directs in the next para that, “Let instructions be sought as to whether it has been filed in court or further investigation has been ordered by the Supervisory Authority.”

In Re: CRLP 2296 of 2024

To put things in perspective, the Division Bench then envisages in the new para that, “None appeared for the petitioner. Petitioner has sent an illness slip. Learned AGA Sri Brijesh Dwivedi says that the investigation is at the initial stage. The FIR has been lodged in March 2024 itself. Counter affidavit be filed in the matter within three weeks as to the stage/progress in the investigation which obviously would be monitored by the Committee constituted under our order. Learned AGA to inform the concerned Investigating Officer as also Head of the Committee.”

In Re: CRLP 2584 of 2024

It is certainly worth noting that the Division Bench notes in the next para that, “Although the parties have entered into a compromise, considering the allegations in the FIR so far as they relate to advocates, learned AGA seeks time to file counter affidavit. Let it be filed within two weeks. The matter would be considered on the next date as the Court wants to ensure that the compromise is not under any duress. As the compromise is only between the informant and respondent we would like to know as to whether there are other accused in the matter who are not party to the compromise. Interim order to continue till the next date. No application for withdrawal of this petition shall be entertained by the registry.”

Truth be told, the Division Bench lays bare in a new para disclosing that, “This is a suo motu Public Interest Litigation bearing writ petition WPIL No. 32524 of 2018 and a Criminal Misc. writ petition no. 3537 of 2023 specifically relating to the issue of functioning of District Courts at Lucknow. There have been several incidents of unruly behaviour within the Court campus of District Court Lucknow. Sometimes the incidents have happened in the corridors leading to the court rooms or to chambers of the judges while other incidents have also been alleged inside the court rooms wherein number of lawyers have barged into court rooms and tried to pressurize the judge or the advocates appearing for one of the parties, for various reasons.”

Most damningly, the Division Bench then reveals in the next para mentioning that, “In fact Sri Namit Sharma appearing for one of the petitioners has placed before us a news item published in Hindi daily newspaper namely Hindustan on 04.05.2024 alleging that some persons in the garb of advocates’ uniform entered the District Court premises at Lucknow and beat up a young man. They demanded Rs. 51,00,000/- from him and let him go only after getting Rs. 50,000/-. FIR has been lodged in this regard at Wazirganj police station. Let a report in this regard be requisitioned from the District Judge Lucknow. Learned AGA, Sri Pawan Kumar Mishra shall also seek instructions in the matter.”

What’s more, the Division Bench then further directs in the next para of this learned judgment that, “The copy of said newspaper shall be kept on record of suo motu PIL No.32524 of 2018.”

While citing a very commendable initiative, the Division Bench then while applauding it points out in the next para stating that, “We have been informed that in the judgeship of Ghaziabad, sometime ago CCTV cameras were installed inside the court rooms. Members of the bar have also informed us that the same had a salutary effect on the functioning of the judgeship in Ghaziabad, so is the information collected by us from judges who have been posted at Ghaziabad.”

Most significantly, most remarkably and most forthrightly, the Division Bench then hastens to add in the next para underscoring that, “Considering the situation at Lucknow with which we are seized in the aforesaid PIL and other writ petitions connected to this very bunch of petitions, we request the High Court on the administrative side, to kindly consider the feasibility of installation of CCTV cameras inside the court rooms at District Court Lucknow at appropriate places, may be on experimental basis, so as to curb such activities and to ensure that the judges are able to perform their duties freely and fearlessly in accordance with law. This is not to put any stigma on the lawyers practicing in the District Court most of whom are well behaved but there are some black sheep in the family who bring a bad name to the entire legal fraternity and this measure is being recommended only to curb their activities because we are flooded with writ petitions where lawyers or those in the garb of being lawyers are alleged to influence court proceedings one way or the other by attempting to pressurize the presiding officers and at times barging into the court rooms in the midst of court proceedings as informed by the members of the bar. The Registrar General of this Court to place our request before Hon’ble the Chief Justice for his kind consideration on the administrative side. We are of the opinion that installation of such CCTV cameras inside the court rooms, as far as it may be feasible and permissible, may have a salutary effect on the orderly and smooth conduct of court proceedings and also of those who are participants therein, at Lucknow. Installation of cameras in other district Courts can also be contemplated at a subsequent stage, if required.”

While continuing in the same vein, the Division Bench then directs in next para that, “Sri Gaurav Mehrotra, Advocate is also requested to inform the Registrar General of this Court about this order. His name shall be shown in the cause list whenever this bunch of petitions is listed in relation to writ petition No.3537 of 2023 and suo motu PIL No.32524 of 2018. In fact, Sri Gaurva Mehrotra should provide all the relevant orders we have passed in these bunch of petitions from time to time to the Registrar General of this Court for a better understanding of the situation which is prevailing in the district court at Lucknow.”

Still more, the Division Bench then directs that, “Criminal Misc. writ petition Nos. 3537 of 2023 and 8810 of 2023 be put up tomorrow i.e., on 07.05.2024, all other writ petitions shall now come up before this Court on 29.05.2024.”

In Re: CRLP 5879 of 2021

Finally, the Division Bench then concludes by holding and directing that, “Sri N.K. Seth, learned senior counsel assisted by Sri Ashish Chaturvedi, learned counsel appearing for opposite party no.17 in writ petition no. 5879 of 2022 says that his counter affidavit is ready, and he will file it in the registry, he may do so. Interim orders to continue till the next date of listing, in those matters, in this bunch of petitions, in which they are operating.”

Conclusion

The judgment reflects the Allahabad High Court’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring the smooth functioning of the judicial system. By cracking down on alleged misconduct in Lucknow District Courts and issuing important directives, the court aims to maintain order, protect litigants’ rights, and uphold the integrity of legal proceedings. It underscores the judiciary’s crucial role in safeguarding justice and maintaining public trust in the legal system.

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