Delhi High Court: While deciding on a contempt petition, the Division Bench comprising of Valmiki J Mehta and PS Teji JJ. ordered against Adv. Seema Sapra for accusing Vibhu Bhakru J. of corruption in open court. The Court found her guilty of committing contempt of court and sentenced her to one month imprisonment apart from imposing a fine of Rs.2000/-. The imprisonment will not take effect for three months, allowing her to appeal the case. In addition, the Court also debarred her from arguing, whether as an advocate or party in person except in her defence, before itself or any court or tribunal subordinate to it, for a period of two years. The contempt proceedings were originally initiated against her by a Bench comprising Ravindra Bhat and Vibhu Bhakru JJ. The Court had taken cognizance of the advocate’s actions of calling the latter corrupt, and alleging that he sat on a particular bench of the court out of turn.

The Bench being of the opinion that the speech made by Seema Sapra amounted to criminal contempt issued notice of contempt to her whereupon she exercised the option of having the matter heard by another bench. Accordingly the matter was placed before the present Division Bench which heard the contempt case.

The Court placed a higher responsibility of propriety on the lawyer since she was from within the system. “The responsibility of the noticee is much higher inasmuch as, the noticee is an advocate who is well versed with the legal procedures and the law. Advocates have higher duties than ordinary litigants with respect to court procedures and contemptuous statements.” The Court said that the charge of corruption was serious and, if unsubstantiated, scandalised the judiciary and affected due course of justice. The Court noted that Sapra was not remorseful and had asked 28 judges of the High Court to recuse themselves from hearing this contempt case.

The Court however stated that “there can be no justification for baseless and reckless allegations made of corruption against the Judges as corruption is a very serious charge against the Judge and the institution of Court itself which scandalizes judiciary and interferes or tends to substantially interfere with the due course of justice if the allegation of corruption is unsubstantiated, and in fact not even remotely established.”    [Court on its motion v. Seema Sapra, 2015 SCC Online Del 14079Decided on 17.12. 2015]

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