This post is about how to complain against any judge be it trial courts, high courts, or supreme court in India. Right now it is being written with information collected from various places and based on personal experiences of people, and over time will have authoritative information. This post however does not cover about bad or unbecoming conduct of a judge outside of a court or trial scenario.
Complain against judge cannot solely be because of a ‘bad’ judgment or order which has gone against you. Remember that in every interim order/final judgment one of the two opposing parties may not like the order. But that by itself doesn’t become of a case of complaint against judge, because judge may have followed the law and appreciated the evidence and no bias or misconduct may be proven going by court records. If you have suffered from a bad or unjustified order, for those there is provision of revision, review, or appeal to higher judiciary.
So in what situations can people complain against judges?
Here we can take guidance from similar procedures from other countries’ processes about complaints against judiciary. E.g. following webpage from UK shows very clear and detailed procedure and on what kind of matters one can complain against a judge’s conduct there.
Possible bad or irresponsible conduct of judge
- I felt that the judge was rude towards me because? (provide details of exactly what the judge said or did / the language used / actions or behaviour)
- I felt that the judge was hostile towards me throughout the hearing. This was demonstrated by? (provide details of body language / actions or attitude / comments or behaviour)
- It appeared as if the judge had fallen asleep during the hearing (provide details of supporting evidence such as eyes closed / snoring / did not respond to questions)
Note: Though not hostile, I have experienced judges’ casual or insensitive attitude in making irrelevant or insensitive statements/comments which doesn’t go by norms of what judge is supposed to do in line of judicial duty. And about point about sleeping, I have seen a judge or two making great effort not to nap while OP advocate was giving verbal arguments (one of the instances, the advocate made helpful suggestion to the judge to “take a break” if needed. That’s ok too if an advocate is up to it and ensures about his/her self-respect). So these are not entirely hypothetical situations.
One interesting point is that although appeals/reviews/revisions lie against orders/judgments based purely based on written records of the court, a complaint against judge may be possible due to verbal actions of the judge too inside the court hall which are way out of line with judicial propriety or standards.
Another type of example of irresponsible or non-judicial conduct of judge: It was reported by a husband that judge in a DV Act maintenance case threatened in open court to husband to take back wife or the high interim maintenance order will be given by judge! Such blackmail type threats are clear overstepping of judicial role.
The information on above page is quite reasonable, so one can adopt a similar broad format to send complaint and mention as much detail as possible. Here we might add that though India has inherited many laws and procedural laws from British, you won’t be able to find such clear and detailed information on any official website (later we cover India’s DoJ procedure too) within India. Simple reason is the mai-baap mind-set in India: we don’t want to complain against mai-baap, because they are the ones who decide our judgment, fate, salary, promotion, reward, punishment, whatever.
Also, from a veteran of many court proceedings, along with complaint sworn affidavit is mandatory.
From another UK government website:
You can complain if you’re unhappy with a judge, magistrate, tribunal member or coroner’s:
You must make your complaint within 3 months.
Just to round up with more information in case readers want to see how it’s happening in UK:
Complain via affidavit, and be prepared to hold your ground after complaint
Some high courts (e.g. High Court of Karnataka) have made it mandatory to make complaint about judge on an affidavit, presumably because of false or frivolous complaints being made. The reason for this is that these are serious matters and time of judicial authorities should not be wasted in frivolous complaints. Making complaint via affidavit means that one is open to possibility of contempt of court if the complaint is found to be false. So don’t use such complaints just for holding a grudge. It should be done with mindset of making of a clean judicial and legal system, rather than taking out of anger on an individual.
Where and to whom to send the complaint
Our veteran of many courts has been sending complaints as per jurisdiction below:
1. Subordinate judiciary: Send to Registrar (vigilance), District administrative judge (available from ecourts for my state)
2. HC judges: CJ of HC
3. SC judges: CJI of SC
4. CJ HC: sent to CJI himself(!)
Now for official information: The citizen’s charter PDF file available on below Department of Justice webpage gives several contact information for grievances. One could contact them over phone/email to find out directly how and where to file complain for a particular jurisdiction/court.
Following from their citizen’s charter document:
Facilitating administration of Justice that ensures easy access and timely delivery of Justice to all.
Ensuring adequacy of courts and judges, including servicing of appointment of Judges to the higher judiciary, modernization of courts and procedures, policies for judicial reforms and Legal aid to the poor for improved justice delivery.
From the DoJ Guidelines (PDF file), the relevant information about grievances against judiciary has been extracted and given below:
- Department of Justice (DOJ) receives large number of grievances from citizens through online CPGRAMS portal and on e.mail of the officers. DoJ also receives grievances through Presidents Secretariat/Vice Presidents Secretariat/PMO/Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances/other Ministries/Departments & also directly. While majority of the grievances are related to judiciary, grievances relating to other Ministries/Departments in the Central Government and pertaining to State Governments/Union Territories are also sent to us. The grievances related to judiciary are handled in the Department of Justice and the grievances pertaining to other Departments/Ministries/State Governments/UTs are forwarded to the offices concerned. The following guidelines relating to disposal of grievances in the Department of Justice are communicated for information/guidance/benefit of grievance holders:
- Grievances related to judiciary are forwarded to the Secretary General Supreme Court of India/Registrar General of the concerned High Court for further action, as appropriate.
- Any Grievance related to verdicts of the Courts are not handled as a grievance. Such grievance holders are advised to seek appropriate legal remedy in the appropriate Court of Law as per rules. Grievances related to the verdicts of the Courts will be filed in the Department of Justice. Grievances relating to procedure of the Court or matters purely judicial in nature, can be resolved through Court of Law only. Such grievances will be filed in Department of Justice.
- Grievances relating to Judges of Supreme Court are forwarded to the Chief Justice of India and grievances related to Judges of the High Courts are forwarded to Chief Justice of the concerned High Courts for appropriate action. (As the Judiciary is independent, Government does not ask for action taken report nor sends reminders to them. Grievance holders are advised to seek information from the concerned Courts directly in this regard).
- Disposal of pending case (s) in court (s) is within the domain of Judiciary, which is an independent organ of the State under the Constitution of India. Government of India does not interfere in the functioning of the Judiciary / proceedings in courts as pendency of a Court Case is subjudice matter which is under consideration of the court.
- In case of any grievance relating to undue delay in judgement or unfair judgement or miscarriage of justice, the petitioner is advised to resort to judicial remedy by filing appeal or any other proceedings before the appropriate Court of Law within the prescribed time limit.
- As per the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court of India related to grievances/complaints against members of the Subordinate Judiciary, it is clarified that such grievances are to be accompanied with a duly sworn affidavit and verifiable material to substantiate the allegations made therein. Such grievances, alongwith sworn affidavit, need to be sent directly to the Registrar General of the concerned High Court.
The grievance holders are advised to send the grievances pertaining to the Supreme Court/High Courts directly to them on the below mentioned mails in order to expedite disposal of their grievances:
S.No. Name of the High Court e.mail ID
1. Supreme Court of India email@example.com
2. High Court of Allahabad firstname.lastname@example.org
3. High Court of Tripura email@example.com
4. High Court of Gauhati firstname.lastname@example.org
5. High Court of Kerala email@example.com
6. High Court of firstname.lastname@example.org
7. High Court of email@example.com
8. High Court of firstname.lastname@example.org
9. High Court of Delhi email@example.com
10. Bombay High Court firstname.lastname@example.org
11. Sikkim High Court email@example.com
12. Punjab & Haryana High firstname.lastname@example.org
13. HP High Court email@example.com
14. High Court of firstname.lastname@example.org
15. Andhra Pradesh High email@example.com
16. Gujarat High Court firstname.lastname@example.org
17. Rajasthan High Court email@example.com
18. Jammu & Kashmir firstname.lastname@example.org
19. Karnataka High Court email@example.com
20. Patna High Court firstname.lastname@example.org
21. Madhya Pradesh High email@example.com
22. Madras High Court firstname.lastname@example.org
23. Manipur High Court email@example.com
24. Orissa High Court firstname.lastname@example.org
25. Calcutta High Court email@example.com
26. NALSA firstname.lastname@example.org
- Grievances forwarded by Department of Justice are considered and examined by the Judiciary as per their own in house mechanism and the system/procedure to deal with grievances which is normally not shared. In such cases, Department of Justice is not in a position to inform the outcome to grievance holders.
- Grievance holders are advised/requested to lodge their grievances on the Public Grievance Portal email@example.com ” only. Since the Government has launched designated portal to receive grievances online, grievances received in the Department of Justice on the email I.Ds of officers will not be entertained.
So complaints can be sent either directly to HC if applicable, or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t send complaints to individual officers’ email ids.
Following are more links to further information and guidelines: