Kerala HC stops transfer of Kozhikode judge who gave anticipatory bail to sexual harassment accused
The judge, S Krishnakumar, had remarked that the law about outraging a woman’s modesty did not apply if she was wore a ‘sexually provocative dress’.
The Kerala High Court on Wednesday set aside an order to transfer the Kozhikode judge who had granted anticipatory bail to author Civic Chandran in an alleged sexual harassment case, PTI reported.
The Kozhikode Principal District and Sessions Judge, S Krishnakumar, had on August 12 remarked that the law about outraging a woman’s modesty did not apply if she wore a “sexually provocative dress”. The High Court had expunged the remarks on October 13.
On Wednesday, the High Court struck down an order to transfer Krishnakumar, saying that it was “punitive in nature” and unfair. The judge was to be transferred to the post of Presiding Officer, Labour Court, Kollam.
The lawyer for Krishnakumar, VV Sidharthan, said that although the transfer was portrayed as a routine one, it was, in fact, a punitive one and was linked to the judge’s remarks in the alleged sexual harassment case. The lawyer said that the action was legally unsustainable as it was not based on any disciplinary proceedings against Krishnakumar, according to Live Law.
The lawyer for the registrar of the High Court, Elvin Peter, argued that the transfer could not be seen as punitive in nature and that it was not a deputation. He said that a deputation would refer to a situation in which a person was transferred to a post in a different service.
The court noted that the transfer order was passed in the immediate aftermath of media reports that had criticised Krishnakumar’s remarks.
“The observations of the appellant in the bail order were indeed derogatory to women and, in our view, wholly uncalled for,” the High Court said. “That said, the question that arises for our consideration today is whether the appellant [Krishnakumar] was merely discharging his judicial role...or whether, by making the said observations, he had occasioned a misconduct warranting punitive action.”
The bench said that if the High Court’s administrative side believed that the judge’s observations called for disciplinary action, it should have called for an explanation from him and established the misconduct through a disciplinary inquiry.
“Viewed in the above backdrop and in the light of the settled practice and convention in the State, therefore, the impugned transfer order does appear to be punitive in nature so far as the appellant is concerned, and one that was not preceded by any valid enquiry.”