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SC gives 10-day time to suspended ADJ

During the hearing, Justice Lalit told the Patna High Court that these matters can be sorted at the training level.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday granted an opportunity to an Additional District Judge (ADJ) from Bihar, challenging his suspension order by the Patna High Court for allegedly convicting and sentencing a POCSO accused within a day, to prove his innocence and produce relevant documents in 10 days.

The Patna High Court had suspended Pocso (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) judge Shashi Kant Rai from Araria in Bihar, presumably for delivering a series of quick judgments, including in a POCSO case where he concluded the trial on a single day.

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Rai had moved to the Supreme Court through his counsel Vikas Singh, a senior lawyer and former Additional Solicitor General (ASG), who claimed innocence in the case.

“A memorandum containing articles of charge and enclosures was served upon the petitioner. The memo calls upon the petitioner to submit his statement of defense within 10 days,” a two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court led by Justice U U Lalit and also comprising Justice S Ravindra Bhat said.

Singh submitted that Rai was willing to submit such a statement.

“Let the needful be done on or before August 15. Gaurav Agarwal, Patna High Court advocate, submits that an apt decision after considering the entirety of the matter shall be taken thereafter. List on 18th,” the Bench said.

During the hearing, Justice Lalit told the Patna High Court that these matters can be sorted at the training level.

Rai claimed in his plea that he “reasonably believes” there is an “institutional bias” against him as he concluded the trial in a POCSO case involving the rape of a six-year-old girl in a single day.

Rai also said that he awarded capital punishment to an accused in four working days of trial, and claimed these verdicts were widely reported in the media, and appreciated by the government and public alike.

The Supreme Court observed that it sends a bad message to others who’re otherwise efficient. “Judgments are well written,” Justice Lalit said.

The other judge on the bench, Justice Bhat, said the High Court should decide it. “Why should we jump the gun?”

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