100 case files related to one judge go missing, CBI to probe

100 case files related to one judge go missing, CBI to probe

Courtesy : NJ20/07/2018 09:48

 Justice (retired) Mathivanan told  Media “It was not my mistake, they (the case bundles) are all physically available. It was the failure of the Registry of the Madras High Court to get them.”

 

A day after the Madras High Court ordered the CBI to investigate the whereabouts of at least 100 case bundles, former judge T Mathivanan, who allegedly failed to return them at the time of his retirement in May 2017, hit back, saying this was a bid to defame him.

Justice (retired) Mathivanan told  media “It was not my mistake, they (the case bundles) are all physically available. It was the failure of the Registry of the Madras High Court to get them.”

The order for a CBI probe came on petitions that pointed out Justice Mathivanan delivered oral orders in open court, written copies of which were never made available to litigants. In the High Court office too, the case bundles could not be found.

Justice G Jayachandran ordered the CBI probe Wednesday after an in-house investigation ordered by Chief Justice Indira Banerjee failed to retrieve the bundles.

“It is alarming to note case bundles, 100 in number, disappearing from the radar, like vessels going missing in the Bermuda Triangle,” Justice Jayachandran said. The court directed the Joint Director of CBI, Chennai zone, to look into the matter.

Rejecting the charges, Justice Mathivanan said one can understand if one or two bundles are placed. “More than 100 are missing, it seems… before passing the order, should have ascertained whether the bundles were available or not… A wrong news went viral to damage my name. Tomorrow, I am going to report this matter to Chief Justice Banerjee. The so-called missing bundles are physically available,” he said.

After the bundles went missing, records were reconstructed. “Reconstruction of missing records may be a solution on the administrative side but the fact that 100 case bundles were not returned from the residence of the retired judge cannot be ignored,” Justice Jayachandran said Wednesday.

Asked about the in-house investigation ordered by the Chief Justice, Justice Mathivanan said: “Reconstruction is different from re-hearing. Instead of getting an order for re-hearing, the Registry got an order for reconstruction. Reconstruction is possible only when bundles are missing. Here, bundles are physically available and how can reconstruction be ordered instead of re-hearing? It was certainly to defame me.”

“It was the responsibility of the Registry to take back those bundles from my home after my retirement. They didn’t do that. After retirement, we have to vacate the government residence within three months. After my vacation, they could have come and taken it back. It was their responsibility,” Justice Mathivanan said.

Justice K Chandru, former judge of the Madras High Court, said: “Not even a single bundle went missing from my office during my service. But it has been a problem for a long time. There are temporary as well as permanent missing cases. Then there are people who steal documents, such as a bounced cheque or a sale deed, from the original bundle. This derails the entire case forever.”

According to Justice Chandru, digitisation of records is the only solution because nobody can then steal it. “It is a Court of Records, you must be able to get the bundle of a 150-year-old case too. One of the finest models is in Delhi High Court… Justices S Ravindra Bhat and S Muralidhar have been conducting paperless courts for nearly three years. If two courts can run it successfully, why is it not possible in other courts as well?”

 

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