The Punjab and Haryana High Court has taken suo moto (on their own) action against a Court Clerk; for slandering Judicial Officers on Youtube. The clerk, Harmeet Singh, posted at the Sessions Court in Mansa, firstly, created a YouTube account with the name “Ugly face of Indian Judiciary, Ludhiana“. Thereafter, he shared videos criticizing and allegedly making false allegations against the judicial officers.
Through the channel, the clerk openly claimed the District & Sessions Judge, Ludhiana and Additional District Judge Ranjit Kumar Jain manipulated his transfer to Mansa Sessions Division. He also made such allegations against two sitting Judges of the High Court.
The proceedings were initiated after the District & Sessions Judge, Ludhiana referred that through his channel, the clerk attempted to frighten the Judges with the aim of getting a transfer back to Ludhiana.
However, the clerk told the Court that he was already punished as per a departmental enquiry and four of his annual grade pay increments were stopped with cumulative effect under Rule 5(v) to (ix) of the Punjab Civil Services (Punishment & Appeal) Rules, 1970. Therefore, he argued that these proceedings would result in a double jeopardy. He also argued that uploading videos on YouTube does not amount to “publication”; because his YouTube account remains personal and restricted only to a few friends.
Decision of the High Court
The Division bench consisting of Justice Jawant Singh and Justice Sant Parkash refuted the arguments.
“For the interest of justice, the Court frames proper charge against him; and gives him the opportunity to prove his claim through production of evidence, if any. The arguments so raised on his behalf regarding the double jeopardy; the circulation through YouTube not amounting to publication; and whether it amounted to scandalizing the judicial system; are debatable questions. The court can answer them only after the evaluation of evidence and submissions of both the parties.“- Observed the High Court.
Notably, in India protection against double jeopardy is a Fundamental Right; guaranteed under Article 20 (3) of the Constitution of India. The Court has listed the matter on September 24, 2020.