Allahabad High Court Summons Judge Over Treating Muslim Lawyers Unfairly

In a recent incident at the Allahabad High Court, a senior judicial officer faced allegations of religious discrimination against Muslim lawyers during a criminal trial involving forced religious conversion accusations. The officer, Additional District & Sessions Judge Vivekanand Sharan Tripathi, declined a request from Muslim lawyers for a brief adjournment to attend Friday prayers, opting instead to appoint additional counsel, termed amici curiae, to represent the accused during prayer times. This decision was met with objections, leading to the intervention of Justice Shamim Ahmed of the High Court.

In his order dated April 3, Justice Ahmed criticized the trial court’s conduct, highlighting its failure to acknowledge the gravity of the High Court’s stay order and its arbitrary continuation of proceedings. The High Court also took issue with the trial judge’s discriminatory remarks about the absence of counsel from a specific religious community, which led to the appointment of amici.

Emphasizing the violation of the fundamental right against religious discrimination as enshrined in Article 15 of the Indian Constitution, the High Court expressed concerns about the trial judge’s impartiality and integrity. It reiterated its earlier stay order, halting further proceedings in the trial against the petitioner, and summoned the judicial officer to explain the controversial orders. The court stressed the importance of judicial accountability and the need to maintain public trust and confidence in the judiciary.

Judge Tripathi appeared before the High Court, offering an unconditional apology and admitting to passing the orders under a misconception. He assured the court of exercising caution in the future. The court granted him two days to file a personal affidavit and scheduled the matter for further hearing on April 18.

Legal representatives involved in the case included advocates representing the petitioner, the accused judge, and the state.

This incident highlights the importance of upholding fairness, impartiality, and integrity within the judiciary. Judicial misconduct, particularly involving religious discrimination, undermines public confidence in the legal system. Therefore, it is imperative for judges to adhere strictly to legal and ethical standards, ensuring that their decisions are free from bias or prejudice.

In conclusion, the intervention of the Allahabad High Court in addressing allegations of religious discrimination within the judiciary reaffirms the commitment to uphold constitutional values and ensure justice for all. By holding judges accountable for their conduct, the court reinforces the importance of maintaining public trust in the judiciary and safeguarding the principles of equality and fairness before the law.

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