On Wednesday, the Supreme Court released a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) providing guidelines for courts to follow when summoning government officials, while also cautioning against subjecting these officials to humiliation or making irrelevant remarks about their attire.
The bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Mishra said that the SOP must be followed by all High Courts and emphasised that courts must steer clear from arbitrarily summoning officials.
The top court acknowledged that the personal appearance of officials may be required for evidence in summary proceedings. However, the Court said added that such officials may not be summoned if any issues cropping up can be sorted by way of affidavits from the officials.
The Court also directed that an official cannot be summoned only because his or her view is different from the view of the court.
However, the Court clarified that the personal presence of officials may be required if there is suppression of facts.
In respect of the comments made on the attire of officials, the top court specifically emphasised the courts must refrain from doing so “unless there is violation of dress code of their own office.”
It added that government officers should not be made to stand during the entire proceedings unless needed or asked to.
“Court must refrain from making remarks or observations to humiliate such officers,” said the Court further.
For the future, the Supreme Court ordered that advance notice must be given before summoning the officials for adequate preparation.
The first option for such appearance must be through video conference, the top court added.
The Court issued the guidelines while disposing of a plea filed by the Uttar Pradesh government against the orders passed by Allahabad High Court last year to summon two senior government officers.
The High Court in one of the orders had also ordered the arrest of two senior IAS officers although they were released a day later after the Supreme Court’s intervention.
While setting aside the High Court’s orders, the Supreme Court today opined that frequently summoning government officials runs contrary to the scheme envisaged by the Constitution.
Having issued guidelines today on when government officials can be summoned by courts, the top court directed its registry to circulate the order among Registrars General of all High Courts for their information.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)