1. These two petitions are under Section 561-A, Criminal Procedure Code for expunging the following remarks which had been made by the learned Special Judge and District Magistrate of North Arcot at Vellore in Special Case Nos. 2 and 3 of 1972:
Before parting with the Judgment the following observations are made. Combination of misappropriation and corruption the subject-matters of this case and the other case disposed of today is horrible in a Government servant in the cadre of a Tahsildar which is a pivotal post at the Taluk level as the area of his activities extends to almost all the branches of citizen's life in a welfare State. The accused has been acquitted giving him the benefit of reasonable doubt that has arisen regarding the prosecution version in the appreciation of evidence though there is well-founded suspicion to indicate that he rendered bad services to the Government by betraying the confidence reposed by it in him in appointing him as Tahsildar, a responsible post.
2. In Special Case No. 2 of 1972, there were three charges against the petitioner. One was that as a public servant he took gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act, an offence punishable under Section 161, Indian Penal Code. The second was for criminal misconduct as a public servant in the discharge of his official duty by corrupt or illegal means or by otherwise abusing his position as a public servant, obtaining for himself or for any other person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage, an offence punishable Under Section 5 (2) read with Section 5 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947. The third charge was for criminal misconduct in the discharge of official duty by habitually accepting or agreeing to accept or attempting to obtain from any person for himself or for any other person, any gratification (other than legal remuneration) as a motive or reward such as is mentioned in Section 161. Indian Penal Code, punishable under Section 5 (2) read with Section 5 (1) (a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
3. In Special Case No. 3 of 1972 the only charge that was framed was for criminal misconduct in the discharge of his official duty by dishonestly or fraudulently misappropriating or otherwise converting for his own use property entrusted to him or under his control as a public servant or allowing any other person so to do, an offence punishable under Section 5 (2) read with Section 5 (1) (c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947.
4. In both these cases, the learned Special Judge and Dist. Magistrate has elaborately considered in a very meticulous manner and with great care the evidence adduced and has acquitted the petitioner. I find that in neither of the judgments has the learned Special Judge and District Magistrate with reference to any of the charge observed that even though the evidence against the petitioner was not clinching enough to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, there were grounds for suspicion against him. Nevertheless, the learned Special Judge has observed in the impugned observations that there is 'well-founded suspicion to indicate that he rendered bad services to the Government by betraying the confidence reposed by it in him in appointing him as Tahsildar. a responsible post.' The learned Special Judge has not even stated what are the grounds or material which gave rise to a well-founded suspicion that the petitioner had rendered bad service to the Government. The learned Special Judge has scrutinised each piece of evidence and found it to be unreliable and has in detail set out the various circumstances which rendered such evidence unreliable. Such being the case, I do not think the learned Special Judge was justified in making the above observations against the petitioner.
5. It is no doubt very necessary that in order to maintain the independence of the judiciary that every presiding officer of a criminal court, however junior, should feel that he could fearlessly give expression to his views in the judgment or order which he delivers and that no impression should be allowed to be created in the mind of the presiding officer that the High Court is likely to interfere lightly with his opinions, for otherwise his independence will be seriously undermined. But at the same time, when the High Court is moved by an aggrieved party to expunge any passage from the order or judgment of a Subordinate Court, it is for the High Court to satisfy itself whether the passage complained of is wholly irrelevant and unjustifiable and its retention on the records will cause serious harm to the person to whom it refers and its expunction will not affect the reasons for the judgment or order. Such a power can properly be exercised even in a case where there is no foundation whatsoever for the remarks objected to. Where an adverse remark is likely to injure the reputation or prejudicially affect the means of livelihood or the career of the person concerned, the power should be exercised by the trial Court with great reserve and moderation and the need for this caution is still greater in the case of remarks against officials. A Magistrate is entitled to draw a legitimate inference from the evidence on the record but where the remarks of the Magistrate for expunging which an application under Section 561-A is presented, are wholly unsupported by the evidence on record even as legitimate inference and are wholly unjustified and reflect on the character of the petitioner and are likely to affect his future career, it is only fair that they should be directed to be expunged. Likewise, a remark which is not necessary to the conclusion reached by the Judge nor even necessary to his argument and is likely to militate seriously against the party's earning a living in his profession or his future career can be expunged.
6. In this case, as I have already pointed out the learned Special Judge has not even mentioned what are the grounds for entertaining a well-founded suspicion against the petitioner. Having scrutinised each piece of the evidence and found the same to be unreliable, I do not think the learned Special Judge is justified in having made the abovesaid observations which will certainly affect the future career of the petitioner. Hence, I direct the expunging of the aforesaid remarks in both the judgments.