The Bombay High Court has intervened in the functioning of the Juvenile Court in Bhiwandi, Mumbai, directing an inquiry into alleged misconduct by court staff following a clerk's refusal to accept a charge sheet despite the court's orders.

The Division Bench of Justice AS Gadkari and Justice Neela Gokhale took cognizance of the issue during proceedings on an application seeking to quash an FIR filed against a juvenile accused.

The Court expressed dismay over the actions of Sudhir Pawar, a clerk at the Juvenile Court in Bhiwandi, who reportedly defied court orders by refusing to accept a charge sheet from the Investigating Officer (IO), despite explicit directives from the High Court.

"Prima facie, it appears to us that the clerk Mr. Sudhir Pawar attached to Juvenile Court at Bhiwandi has blatantly flouted the Orders passed by this Court. He has displayed total disregard for our Orders. It is unfortunate to note that even the Presiding Officer of that Court namely Smt. Seema Ghute is either oblivious to the orders passed by this Court or has feigned deliberate ignorance thereto. We strongly condemn this conduct of Mr. Pawar and find the conduct of the Registry of the said Court disgraceful. It clearly amounts to interference in the smooth administration of criminal justice. It also appears to us that the Presiding Judicial Officer has no control over her Court and, therefore her role also needs to be examined by the Principal District Judge," the Bench said.

The issue arose subsequent to a court order dated December 12, 2023, which permitted the filing of a charge sheet upon completion of investigation. Despite subsequent clarifications issued by the High Court on April 8, 2024, allowing the charge sheet's submission without the juvenile's physical presence, Pawar allegedly persisted in obstructing the IO from filing the charge sheet.

On June 11, 2024, the prosecutor brought the matter to the court's attention, highlighting persistent disobedience of court orders by Pawar. In response, the court directed the concerned police officer to submit an affidavit detailing the events, which was promptly filed on June 12, 2024.

Condemning Pawar's actions as a clear interference in the administration of justice, the Division Bench also expressed concerns over the oversight or disregard displayed by the Presiding Officer, Smt. Seema Ghute, regarding the Court's directives.

In light of these developments, the Court ordered a thorough inquiry into the matter under the supervision of the Principal District Judge, Thane. The inquiry mandates a review of the case records pending in the Juvenile Court at Bhiwandi, alongside the submission of a detailed report to the High Court by June 26, 2024, at 5:00 p.m. The Court also granted the Principal District Judge the authority to suspend Sudhir Pawar during the course of the investigation, while reserving the option to initiate actions under the Contempt of Court Act, 1971, if warranted.

"The Registrar (Judicial-I) is directed to communicate this Order to the Principal District Judge, Thane on or before 15th June 2024. The Principal District Judge, Thane is directed to submit its Enquiry Report to this Court on or before 5:00 p.m. of 26th June 2024. We grant liberty to the Principal District Judge to suspend Mr. Sudhir Pawar during the pendency of enquiry and/or to adopt any other appropriate legal remedy under the provisions of law which he/she deems it appropriate in completing the enquiry expeditiously," the Court directed.

The matter is scheduled for further proceedings on June 26, 2024.

Cause Title: XYZ through Nitin Satish Sharma v. The State of Maharashtra & Anr.


Applicant: Advocates Sakshi Mane, Rajeev Sawant

Respondent: Advocates Vinod Chate (APP), Akshay Dunde

Click here to read/download the Order