Supreme Court: Advocate Mohit Chaudhary, who accused the Registry of this Court in order to favour the opposite party to hastily list the matter with the objective of “Bench Hunt”, had been barred from practicing as an Advocate-on-record for one month by a 3-judge bench of JS Khehar, CJ and Dr. DY Chandrachud and SK Kaul, JJ. The Court, however, clarified that it was not proceedings with the contempt jurisdiction but cautioning the contemnor that this should be the first and the last time of such a misadventure.
The contemnor had alleged that due to the manipulation by the Registry, the matter was stated to have suddenly appeared in the evening list prior to the date as the supplementary matter before the special bench, despite the matter not being ‘part heard’ or otherwise marked to the bench. This was alleged to be in violation of the normal rule of listing before a regular bench and indulging in constituting a Special Bench at the eleventh hour as a non-conventional and mischievous act on the part of the Registry.
The Court said that the Contemnor has been practicing as an Advocate-on-record since 2009 and he cannot be said to be oblivious to the fact that no bench is constituted by the Registry, but by the Chief Justice of this Court and thus, in an indirect manner, an imputation was impliedly made even against the Chief Justice though in the garb of a virulent attack on the Registry. The Court, hence, issued contempt notice to the Advocate. The contemnor then sought to place an unconditional apology, acknowledging that listing of a matter, under the direction of the Court, could never be manipulated as stated by him.
Going through the records of the matter that was alleged to be manipulated with, the Court noticed that the contemnor appeared on the first date of hearing in 2013, however, he was replaced in 2014. After that 2 more advocates-on record changed and Jinendra Jain was appearing as the Advocate-on-record till 31.03.2017 when the matter was listed for final hearing on 07.04.2017. On 07.04.2017, the contemnor again came into picture.
The Court, hence, noticed that the existing Advocate-on-Record refused to oblige the litigant petitioner for making the unreasonable mentioning before the Court, seeking to shift the matter out of an existing Bench and the contemnor who utilized the opportunity to re-enter the scene. The contemnor thus took a conscious decision to be a pawn in the hands of the litigant, to scandalize the Court and the Registry of the Court, with the sole objective of achieving a bench shifting. It was clearly a “commercial decision” to sub-serve the interest of his client, even though, it would amount to false allegations and be unbecoming of an advocate. The Court said that this matter should serve as a caution to all the advocates who may consider the interest of the client paramount even to breach the ethical practice of the court. [In re: Mohit Chaudhary, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 939, decided on 17.08.2017]