Meghalaya chief justice ordered state to continue z category cover even after his retirement
On the eve of his retirement, Meghalaya high court's former chief justice Uma Nath Singh had directed the state to provide him and other judges the same security they enjoyed even after they step down..
Mr. Singh in a suo motu proceeding initiated by a bench headed by him on December 10 ordered the Centre to provide security on a permanent basis to the chief justice and judges "at their place of residence after their retirement", according to a report in The Times Of India. He demitted office on January 14.
The retiring Judge's order was apparently in violation of the legal maxim 'no one should be a judge in his own cause'.
On the day Justice Singh retired, the bench passed another order asking the Meghalaya government to adopt `Sikkim State Guest Rules, 2007', which provide that retired chief justices and judges of the HC will be treated as "state guest" when they visit Delhi, Kolkata or Sikkim, the TOI report says.
The chief justice enjoyed 'Z' category cover while judges had 'Y' category security. The state did not appeal.
It took a commoner, Sajay Laloo, to challenge the incongruity of the orders before a Supreme Court bench headed by CJI T S Thakur.
"You have brought the issue to our notice and you have done your duty . You are a private citizen. You do not know in what condition the judges are working." the bench told Sajay''s counsel.
The bench then said the judges might be feeling insecure and asked the state counsel whether they had assessed the security threat to the retired judges.
The bench asked the Meghalya state counsel why did not they challenge the high court order.
"Are you fine with these orders? The government cannot keep quiet and wait for seven months for a citizen to move the Supreme Court," it said.
Singh, who was first sworn in as an additional judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in 2001, was also a judge in the Punjab and Haryana HighCourt and the senior-most judge at the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, prior to being appointed Chief Justice of the Meghalaya HC in March 2015. He demitted office on January 14.
After retirement, Justice Singh's name was recommended by the CJI as head of a tribunal but the Centre refused to appoint him citing various reports.