Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Mukta Gupta, J., refused to stay the suspension of Ashok Arora from the post of Secretary, Supreme Court Bar Association stating that no prima facie case was made out by the Secretary.

Decree of Declaration

Plaintiff by way of the present application sought an interim injunction staying the Executive Committee of Supreme Court Bar Association — defendant 1’s resolution whereby the plaintiff was suspended from functioning as Secretary of defendant 1.

Termination

Plaintiff contended that in terms of Rules 35 of the Supreme Court Bar Association Rules, only the General Body of the defendant 1 Association is competent to suspend or terminate the membership of defendant 1 Association and thus the decision of the Executive Committee’s decision of suspending the plaintiff is illegal and non-est.

Further, he also challenged the Coram of the Executive Committee which passed the impugned resolution on the ground that most of the members of the said meeting were interested parties and the neutral members were less than 5, hence their decision cannot be binding.

Plaintiff relied on the decision of Khwaja Nazir Ahmed v. King Emperor, AIR 1936 PC 253 and S.P. Chengalvarya Naidu v. Jagannath, (1994) 1 SCC 1.

Bar Council of India

Counsel for the Bar Council of India (BCI) stated that, BCI generally avoids interfering in the functioning of the affairs of any Bar Association but given the extreme circumstances in the present case,  BCI took notice of the complaints/events received by it and since the issue has a far-reaching effect in relation to the working of the Bar Associations of the Country, took the conscious decision and passed the resolution dated 10-05-2020.

Supreme Court Bar Association

SCBA contended that Bar Associations of various District Courts, High Courts or Supreme Court are independent bodies and their actions are not subject to the jurisdiction of BCI.

Analysis & Decision

Rule-35 of the SCBA Rules relates to the suspension or expulsion of a member of the SCBA as a member of the said Association.

Rule-35 of the SCBA Rules has no application to the suspension/termination of the status/position of a member of SCBA as an office-bearer of its Association.

Vide the impugned order plaintiff has not been either suspended or expelled as a member of the SCBA.

The plaintiff continues to be the member of SCBA and by the impugned resolution has been directed to not act in his capacity as the Secretary of the SCBA.

Bench found no merit in the present matter since the basis of the plaintiff’s case was on the violation of Rule-35 of the SCBA Rules, but the present matter is not covered by Rule 35.

As noted above Rule-35 of the SCBA Rules having no application to the facts of the case, defendant 1 Association has proceeded under Rule-14.

If the allegations of the plaintiff are that the acts of some of the members of the Executive Committee of SCBA are mala fide then the said allegations are required to be raised specifically and parties against whom mala fides are alleged are required to be impleaded as defendants in the suit. The seven members of the Executive Committee have not been impleaded as parties.

No prima facie case was made out by the plaintiff and hence the application was dismissed. [Ashok Arora v. SCBA, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1289, decided on 06-10-2020]

Advocates for the plaintiff: Arun Batta, Neha Kumari and Abdul Vahid.

Senior Advocate Arvind Nigam with Advocate Ankit Banati for SCBA.

Advocates, Rajdipa Behura and Preet Pal for BCI.

Fact ChecksNews

Screenshots of a tweet by a journalist has been doing the rounds on social media that the Supreme Court Bar Association headed by president Dushyant Dave has passed a resolution not to give farewell to Arun Mishra, J. when he retires on September 2. Along with the screenshot of the tweet, a pdf titled ‘Proposed Resolution of SCBA’ is also circulating. The pdf states that the executive committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association has resolved not to hold any farewell for Justice Mishra upon his retirement. Two points have been mentioned in the pdf which state that he was extremely unpleasant to the members of the Bar and have misbehaved with him on several occasions and that all important matters of the government where assigned to him, and  therefore other judges were relegated to an inferior position. The note ends with the statement that Justice Mishra had caused immense damage to the Supreme Court as an institution and that the Bar registers its protest by not giving any farewell to Justice Mishra. The points can be read in detail in the pdf image given below. 

Now let us test the veracity of the claims in the pdf. We checked the official website of the Supreme Court Bar Association and found that there is a notification published there which states that circulating pdf with respect to the statement tissued by the Executive Committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association on the issue of Farewell to Hon’ble Mr. Justice Arun Mishra on his retirement next month is false. The  notification further states that no such statement had been issued by the Executive Committee and that in fact this matter had not been considered by the EC in any meeting. The Press release being attributed to the EC was not genuine and is strongly denied by Mr Dave on behalf of the EC. Mr Dave strongly condemned the same as being mischievous and an attempt to malign the SCBA. 

The notification uploaded on the SCBA website can be seen below:

Therefore, we can safely say that the circulating message is false and no resolution has been passed by the SCBA to not give a farewell to Justice Mishra.

Hot Off The PressNews

SCBA writes to Secretary General, Supreme Court, requesting inclusion of RuPay card and UPI for payment of court fees.

For the payment of Court Fees, the Supreme Court website is accepting payments from only four credit Cards i.e. Visa, Mastercard, Mistro and American express. It does not provide the facility of payment through Rupay Cards and UPI. 

Rupay was a payment scheme launched by the Government of India to fulfill vision of India’s own, domestic, open and multilateral payment system and UPI is an initiative by Government of India with multiple benefits. Both schemes are being highly promoted by the Government of India, therefore most of the Banks are issuing RuPay Cards where a large population as also many members of the Bar use the Rupay Cards and UPI system for payments.

Therefore, SCBA requested that payments for this purpose should also be accepted through RuPay Card and UPI. 


Supreme Court Bar Association

Hot Off The PressNews

In yet another unprecedented move by Justice J Chelameswar, the soon to retire Supreme Court judge has declined to attend his farewell function to be organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) citing personal reasons. According to reports, when approached by SCBA, Justice J Chelameswar said that he was not comfortable with such events, and that he did not want a farewell function even when he was transferred from the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The members of SCBA said that they will again meet Justice Chelameswar to persuade him. They, however, expressed reservations whether they will be able to do so.

It is not the first time when Justice Chelameswar has hit the headlines. He has more often than not been in the news for his unprecedented moves. In January this year, for the first time, the nation witnessed a press conference held by the senior most sitting judges of the Supreme Court highlighting the issue of allotment of cases by CJI Dipak Misra. Justice J Chelameswar, leading the press conference that also included Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Kurian Jospeh, said:

“All four of us are convinced that unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will survive in this country, or any country.”

It is important to note that the said allotment of cases issue, famously known as the ‘Master of Roster’ issue is still doing rounds with Opposition filing impeachment motion against CJI Dipak Misra.

Later, in March, Justice Chelameswar agin wrote a letter to CJI Dipak Misra, highlighting the ‘Executive encroachment’ in the judicial matters. In the letter, he highlighted the issue of ‘executive bidding’ by Justice Dinesh Maheswari, the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court for the elevation of Krishna Bhat, a District & Sessions Judge.

Justice J Chelameswar, who is due to retire on June 22nd, will serve as the senior most Supreme Court judge for one last time on May 18th, the last working day before the Court breaks for summer vacation.

(With inputs from News18)

Hot Off The PressNews

Reports suggest that Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has written to a letter to CJI Dipak Misra, asking the collegium to reconsider Uttarakhand High Court’s Chief Justice KM Joseph’s name for elevation to the Supreme Court. The Law ministry says:

“it would not be appropriate, at this stage, to elevate Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice KM Joseph to the Supreme Court.”

The letter states that Justice KM Joseph is placed at number 42 in the All India High Court Judges’ Seniority list and there are presently 11 Chief Justices of various High Courts who are senior to him.

On 10.01.2018, the Supreme Court collegium, comprising of the five senior-most judges, had recommended the names of Uttarakhand Chief Justice KM Joseph and Indu Malhotra for elevation to the Supreme Court. While the Centre has cleared Indu Malhotra’s name, it has rejected the collegium’s recommendation regarding Justice KM Joseph.

While the appointment of Indu Malhotra has been applauded, many Senior members of the Bar have urged CJI Dipak Misra to block her appointment till Justice KM Joseph’s name is cleared. Senior Advocate Indira Jaising took to twitter to show her dismay over non-clearance of Justice Jospeh’s name. She tweeted:

“I appeal to the Chief Justice of India not to swear in Indu Malhotra until Justice Joseph is cleared for appointment , independence of the Judiciary must be saved at all cost.”

In another tweet, she said that if Indu Malhotra is sweared in as the Supreme Court judge, it will be illegal:

“As of now there is no collegium decision to appoint Indu Malhotra alone , hence a judge is about to be sworn in illegally , another collegium decision needed to swear her in alone to legalise her appointment , will the Chief Justice stand for independence of the judiciary please.”

Advocate Vikas Singh, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, welcomed Indu Malhotra’s appointment, calling her a fine lawyer & a promising judge. However, on Centre’s silence on Justice KM Joseph, he said:

“I have huge reservation at the attitude of the government, there is no way by which they should not have cleared Justice KM Joseph’s name. By making one appointment and not making another, the government has interfered in functioning of the judiciary. This is a very serious matter and should be taken up with the government very strongly.”

As per the latest reports, Supreme Court has refused to give an urgent hearing to a mentioning by a group of Supreme Court Bar Association lawyers, with 100 signatures, seeking a stay on Senior Advocate Indu Malhotra’s appointment as Supreme Court judge in light of Centre’s decision to reject Justice KM Joseph’s elevation. The SCBA resolution states:

“While we stand for nomination of Ms. Indu Malhotra, Senior Advocate and one of our distinguished members, we express our deep anguish for non-inclusion of Justice KM Joseph and selective processing of files contrary to the recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium. We strongly condemn the selective approach of the Executive and call upon the Hon’ble Supreme Court to take appropriate steps to restore independence of the judiciary. “

(Source: ANI)

Amendments to existing laws

Supreme Court Bar Association on 19th August, 2014 issued a circular with regard to the objections on representation on ‘The Supreme Court Rules-2013’. This circular is in addition to the earlier notification dated 14.08.2014 of Hon’ble CJI, whereby explanation (b)&(c) Rule 10, Order IV Supreme Court Rules-2013, on misconduct, was directed not to come into force until further orders, accepting the first request of SCBA. The following suggestions of the Office Bearers of SCBA are accepted by Hon’ble CJI:

  • Representation dated 13.08.2014 of SCBA has already been referred to the Rule Committee along with a request to consider the same objectively and comprehensively, in consultation with the SCBA. Therefore, issues raised by the SCBA, specifically with regard to violation of Sections 29 and 30 of the Advocates Act 1961, will be considered by the Rule Committee only.
  • The maximum cap of two lawyers in Form 30 of Fourth Schedule of Supreme Court Rules will be put in abeyance and the appearances of all lawyers, who are actually present, will be shown in the order sheet.
  • With regard to the court fees, excess court fee will be refunded in case the Rule Committee accepts the suggestions of SCBA.
  • Standard paper prescribed in Order XV Rule 11, will be changed back to being optional for A4 and legal size paper as before, instead of only A4 in New Rules.
To read the Circular, click here