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Gujarat High Court’s Full Court rejects Yatin Oza’s apology and denied to re-confer him Senior Designation.

On 21-07-2020, Senior Advocate Yatin Oza was stripped off his Senior Advocate designation as a consequence of his attempt to cause damage to the prestige of the Gujarat High Court.

Following allegations were made by the President of GHCAA against the registry of Gujarat High Court:

  1. corrupt practices being adopted by the registry of the High Court of Gujarat,
  2. undue favour is shown to high-profile industrialist and smugglers and traitors,
  3. The High Court functioning is for influential and rich people and their advocates,
  4. The billionaires walk away with order from the High Court in two days whereas the poor and non VIPs need to suffer,
  5. if the litigants want to file any matter in the High Court person has to be either Mr Khambhata or the builder or the company. This also was circulated in Gujarati daily Sandesh titled as ‘Gujarat HighCourt has become a gambling den – Yatin Oza’

Gujarat High Court by 09-06-2020 observed that,

President by his scandalous expressions and indiscriminate as well as baseless utterances attempted to cause damage to the prestige of the High Court and attempted to lower the image of Administration, thus Court found him responsible for committing the criminal contempt of this Court under Section 2(c) of Contempt of Courts Act and took cognizance of the same under Section 15 of the said Act.

Later, the Supreme Court of India on 06-08-2020, while deferring the matter for 2 weeks, said that

“as a leader of the Bar and as a senior member, a far greater responsibility is expected of him to not only be more restrained but also to guide the younger lawyers in these difficult times.”

[Story to be updated]

Op EdsOP. ED.

The role of the Attorney General of India in the ongoing Bhushan’s contempt proceedings has raised curiosity. This curiosity might be a result of the roles played by recent office bearers which gave a wrong impression that the Attorney General is merely a Government pleader. Some of the media reports go on to question as to why Modi Government is trying to save Mr. Bhushan. Therefore, it is appropriate here to clear the unnecessary clouds hovering over the role of the Attorney General (AG).

The legal minds of the country must be fully aware of the fact that the post of AG is not a Government post. It is a constitutional post. His constitutional obligations are not limited to defend the Central Government but include more onerous obligations as the top most officer of the Court; “to ensure that justice is done to the people of India”. He is also the ex-officio member of the Bar Council of India (BCI) and therefore in a sense, is the head of the Bar. For the same reason and also since the contempt jurisdiction requires his legal acumen as the top most officer of the Court his involvement in the current contempt proceedings in his independent capacity as an AG is beyond questioning.

Though under आर्टिकल 76 of the Constitution of India the AG’s post is held “at the pleasure of the President”, the utility of the office consists in its incumbent being in a position to act quasi-judicially and give competent and independent advice. This is the reason even for Presidential Reference the opinion for AG is sought first, not as Government officer but as the country’s top legal mind. His opinion might be in favour of the government, it might not be.

आर्टिकल 76 is a modified version of Section 16 of the Government of India Act, 1935 and the provision made it clear that the “main object was to secure a legal advice for the Provincial Governments from an officer, not merely well qualified to tender such advice, but entirely free from the trammels of political or party associations, whose salary would not be votable and who would retain his appointment for a recognised period of years irrespective of the political fortune of the Government.” [Extract of the report of the JPC on Section 16 of the Act]

Interestingly, in 1962 Nehru wanted to merge the offices of the Law Ministry and Attorney General as one. He wanted his then Law Minister Ashok Sen to be the AG as well. He even proposed it and sent it across to all bar associations in the country saying that it did not even need constitutional amendment. He wanted to do it because on many occasions the Government’s political move was thwarted by the NEUTRAL legal advice given by the then AG MC Setalvad. Thankfully, the Government had to give up the proposal because of the strong opposition from the Bar and the Bench.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: N. Anand Venkatesh, J., stated that in case the Schools are violating the High Court’s earlier Order with regard to collection of only 40% tuition fees by unaided private institutions during the academic year 2019-2020, Contempt proceedings shall be instituted.

Petition was filed seeking writ of mandamus directing respondents to relax an order passed against the educational institutions precluding from collecting fees from the students to the extent to permit the schools to collect the fees due for academic year 2019-2020 and part fees for the academic year 2020-21 to meet the costs for paying the salaries, purchase and distributions of books, provisioning for online classes, etc.

Government Advocate on behalf of the Education Department submitted that several complaints have been received from parents to the effect that the Education Institutions insisted for the payment of the entire fees in violation of the interim orders passed by the Court on 17-07-2020.

Parents are hesitant to give a written complaint fearing consequences.

Bench taking serious note of the issue stated that education department shall conduct an immediate enquiry and if it would be found that the institutions have been collecting fees in violation of the interim orders passed by this Court, immediate action shall be taken against the schools.

Further, particulars of the Schools shall also be provided to this Court and if this Court finds that there is any violation, this Court will not hesitate to initiate Contempt Proceedings against the persons incharge of the School. The Director of School Education, Chennai, shall file a report on the action taken. [Tamil Nadu Nursery Primary Matriculation Higher Secondary Schools Assn. v. Chief Secy to Govt, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 1638 , decided on 31-07-2020]


Also Read:

Madras HC | Unaided private institutions in T.N. to collect 40% tuition fees as advance fee; Arrears of tuition fees to  be paid before 30 Sept 2020

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Manipur High Court: A Division Bench of Lanusungkum Jamir and Kh. Nobin Singh, JJ., initiated contempt proceedings, wherein Additional Superintendent of Police is stated to have posted derogatory, defamatory and contemptuous post in her face book account against the Special Judge (ND&PS) in particular and against the Judiciary in general.

Bench had posed three questions to respondent 1 (Th. Brinda, MPS presently serving as Additional Superintendent of Police), Head Quarter, which were as follows:

a) Whether she has threatened the witness in the Court of the learned Special Judge, ND&PS on 21-05-2020.

b) Whether she showed her middle finger to the learned Special Judge, ND&PS on 21-05-2020.

c) Whether she has posted derogatory, defamatory and contemptuous post in her face book account against the Special Judge (ND&PS) in particular and against the Judiciary in general.

Further, the Court considered the the letter written by Superintendent of Police (CID-CB) and addressed to the Registrar General, High Court of Manipur giving the details of 20 (twenty) facebook account holders who have been tentatively identified based on the publicly available information and photos posted in their facebook.

Notice has been issued by the Court.

Respondent 2 was also directed to continue collecting and verifying details of persons who keep on uploading posts scandalizing the Judiciary in connection with the present case.

Matter to be listed on 17th June, 2020. [In Re-Criminal Contempt against Thounaojam Brinda v. Thounaojam Brinda, MPS,  2020 SCC OnLine Mani 113 , decided on 10-06-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu & Kashmir High Court: Sanjeev Kumar, J., closed a contempt petition seeking to initiate proceedings against respondents for non-compliance with the orders of the Court.

The present petition has been filed seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against the respondents for willful disobedience and non-compliance. The previous Bench had stated that the petitioner had chosen the wrong forum to adjudicate the matter and directed that due “…to the nature of controversy the writ petition was taken up for final disposal at its threshold and is disposed of by providing that writ petitioner shall approach the concerned authority with a representation which shall be considered and decided by the said Authority within a period of one month”

 The Senior Additional Advocate General representing the respondent, N. H. Shah had filed a response to the contempt petition and took the stand that the representation filed by the petitioner had been considered and the petitioner had not been found entitled to any compensation on the ground that house damaged is a non-residential house which is not covered by the policy.

The advocate representing the petitioner, G. Murtaza Dar, contended that the issue of whether the compensation is payable for the non-residential house had already been decided in affirmative by the Division Bench of the present court and since the respondents had not abided by the stated order of the Division Bench, they are in contempt.

The Court upon perusal of the facts and records stated that respondents had fully complied with the order of the Division Bench. The Court also observed the view of the Division Bench and stated that the writ court had not given any finding with regard to the entitlement of compensation to the petitioner and had categorically stated that the petitioner had chosen a wrong forum for adjudication. [Farooq Ahmad Bhat v. Syed Abid Rashid Shah, 2020 SCC OnLine J&K 122, decided on 19-02-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Pumping for apparently misplaced political propaganda has no place in our courts; this unhealthy practice needs to be strongly deprecated. 

Madan B. Lokur, J. 

Supreme Court: A bench comprising of Madan B. Lokur, S. Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta, JJ. while closing the contempt proceedings against Manoj Tiwari,  Member of Parliament from North-East Delhi, passed strictures against the MP for machismo and the brazen manner in which he took the law into his own hands and tempered with the sealing put by the Veterinary Services Department of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation on the subject premises. 

It is pertinent to note that on 14 September 2018, an illegal dairy in Shahadra, Delhi was sealed on the directions of the Director (Veterinary Services). On 16 September, the seal was broken/tempered with by the said MP. The explanation as given before the Court for his actions was that he is a popular leader and on seeing him, a mob of about 1500 people gathered around him and under the pressure exerted, he broke/tempered with the seal. The said rationale “shocked” the Court. It was observed that the consequence of such behaviour can be devastating in a given situation. 

Furthermore, immediately after the hearing of the matter on 3 October, the said MP alleged that the Monitoring Committee (which was appointed by the Supreme Court vide M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, (2006) 3 SCC 399 is running a sealing racket in connivance with corrupt officers. On perusal of the record, the Court noted that the sealing and de-sealing of the subject premises was an independent act of the Veterinary Services Department and had nothing to do with the Monitoring Committee. The Court, in strictest terms, in its judgment said the following:

        The misplaced bravado of Shri Manoj Tiwari and his chest thumping immediately after the hearing on 3rd October, 2018 and making serious but frivolous allegations against the Monitoring Committee appointed by this Court is a clear indication of how low Shri Manoj Tiwari can stoop and displays his total lack of respect for any rule of law. It seems that he is, in a sense, a rebel without a cause.”

Finally, after making such and other remarks, the Court left it to the better judgment of the Bhartiya Janata Party (to which the said MP belongs) to take any action against him, if so adviced. The Court hoped that better sense prevails and undemocratic tendencies are curbed by the political parties concerned. Reiterating once again that shoulders of the Supreme Court are broad enough to take criticism in its stride, the Court closed the contempt proceedings against Manoj Tiwari. [M.C. Mehta v. Union of India (Sealing Issue),2018 SCC OnLine SC 2524, dated 22-11-2018] 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Reacting upon the judicial orders passed by Justice C.S. Karnan against the Chief Justice of India and 7 Supreme Court jusges, the 7-Judge Bench of Jagdish Singh Khehar, CJ and six senior most Judges of the Supreme Court, Dipak Misra, J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur, PC Ghose and Kurian Joseph, JJ, said that the tenor of the press briefings, as also, the purported judicial orders passed by Justice C.S. Karnan, prima facie suggest, that he may not be in a fit medical condition, to defend himself, in the present proceedings and hence he should be medically examined, before proceeding further.

The Court directed the Director Health Services, Government of West Bengal, to constitute a Board of Doctors from Pavlov Government Hospital, Kolkata, to examine Justice C.S. Karnan, and  conduct the examination on 4.5.2017.  Listing the matter on 09.05.2017, the Court directed the Medical Board to submit the report on or before 8.5.2017.

The Court also refrained all Courts, Tribunals, Commissions or Authorities, from taking cognizance of any orders passed by Justice C.S. Karnan, after the initiation of the proceeding on 8.2.2017.

Directing Justice C.S. Karnan to furnish his response to the notice issued to him on 8.2.2017, on or before 8.5.2017 and if he fails to do so it shall be presumed, that he has nothing to say in the matter.

Justice Karnan, who is a sitting judge of Calcutta High Court, had recently barred the members of the Bench in the present contempt proceedings, along with R. Banumathi, J. from travelling outside India and had directed them to appear before him. [IN RE: JUSTICE C.S. KARNAN, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 514, order dated 01.05.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court:  Due to non-appearance of Justice C.S. Karnan before the Court in the contempt proceedings initiated against him, the 7-judge bench of J.S. Khehar, CJ and Dipak Misra, J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur, P.C. Ghose and Kurian Joseph, JJ directed the matter to be listed on 10.03.2017.

Certain counsel had appeared before the Court without a power of attorney. The Court, hence, said that no one should appear in this matter, without due consent and authorization. Directing Justice Karnan to appear before the Court in person, the Bench said that the contempt proceedings are a matter strictly between the Court and the alleged contemnor and anyone who enters appearance and disrupts the proceedings of this case in future, will be proceeded against, in consonance with law.

On 08.02.2017, the Court had restrained Justice Karnan from handling any judicial or administrative work, as may have been assigned to him, in furtherance of the office held by him and had asked him to appear before the Court on 13.02.2017. The said order of the Court came after Justice Karnan had written letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to take actions against the corrupt sitting and retired judges of the Supreme Court and Madras High Court when he was a Judge of the Madras High Court and had passed an injunction against his own transfer orders. [In Re: Justice C.S. Karnan, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 122, order dated 13.02.1017]

 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 7-Judge Bench of Jagdish Singh Khehar, CJ and six senior most Judges of the Supreme Court, Dipak Misra, J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur, PC Ghose and Kurian Joseph, JJ, in the suo motu contempt proceedings initiated against Justice C.S. Karnan, restrained him from handling any judicial or administrative work, as may have been assigned to him, in furtherance of the office held by him. The bench also directed him to return, all judicial and administrative files in his possession, to the Registrar General of the High Court immediately.

Justice Karnan, who is a sitting judge of Calcutta High Court, had written letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to take actions against the corrupt sitting and retired judges of the Supreme Court and Madras High Court when he was a Judge of the Madras High Court and had passed an injunction against his own transfer orders. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had asked the Supreme Court to take suo motu action against the Judge to set an example.

Justice Karnan will appear before the Court on the next date of hearing on 13.02.2017. [IN RE : Justice C.S. Karnan, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 105, dated 08.02.2017]