Friday, January 27, 2023

Gujarat High Court drops criminal proceedings against lawyer alleging bias by Court

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Gujarat High Court has dropped criminal contempt proceedings against a lawyer, who claimed that the Court was biased towards a certain religion.

A Bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Niral R Mehta was hearing a suo motu contempt case that arose when the respondent made a statement before Justice K.S. Jhaveri in December 2006, stating, “…since some of the Courts are biased towards passing order in favour/against a particular religion/community, the Apex Court has ordered to conduct the trial, in such cases, out of state of Gujarat.”

When the matter first came up for hearing before the Bench, it was opined that the affidavit of apology tendered by the contemnor was not “happily worded” and they sought an unconditional apology from the Counsel.

Although the Court stated that it leaves a bad taste for the Court to proceed against a member of the Bar, they must proceed nonetheless “when the stream of justice was sought to be polluted.”

Thus, the lawyer was asked to submit an unconditional apology, withdrawing his statements on the same day.

The matter was disposed of later on Friday, when the new affidavit was submitted before the Court by the lawyer.

“I submit that I have always adhered to my abundant duty to respect the Court without fail during the long span of my 23 years of practice but the incident dated 04.12.2006 was unintended. I have never undermined the honour of the Court and I feel deep remorse by tendering unconditional apology,” the affidavit said.

The Court observed that the contents of the affidavit appeared bona fide and without meaning ill-will and proceeded to drop the case.

“We are of the considered view that the said remorse expressed by him is genuine and honest and as such, continuation of the present contempt proceedings would not arise,” the order recorded.

However, before concluding the hearing, the Court did warn the counsel to exercise caution in the future, advising him that lawyers must espouse others’ causes and not end up fighting their own.

“Mr Girish Das, you should always fight the case of others, not your own case… you are a lawyer, you espouse the cause of others. You are such a nice man- why do you want to get into all these things? This probably happened many years back, you were probably very young at that time and wanting to fight with Courts. Don’t do that!”

The case had been initiated in 2008 on the grounds that the lawyer had made disparaging and derogatory statements, with a view to attacking the dignity of the Court and scandalizing Court proceedings.

The Court had then noted that he had interfered with the due course of judicial proceedings.

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