Sunday, November 27, 2022

Supreme Court expunges remarks made by Uttarakhand High Court Judge against practicing advocate

The Senior Advocate further argued that the concerned Judge was the member of the same bar as Advocate Neeraj and both were rival counsel in several contested matters before he was elevated in May, 2017.

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The Supreme Court on Monday expunged the remarks made by a Uttarakhand High Court against a practicing advocate in different orders authored by the same judge.

A bench of Justice R.F. Nariman and Hrishikesh Roy observed that the remarks made against the advocate were based on personal perception of the High Court Judge and could have been avoided as they were unnecessary for deciding the disputes.

Advocate Neeraj Garg practicing at Uttarakhand High Court for the last 17 years approached the Supreme Court in an appeal not to challenge the High Court judgment but to remove certain observations made against the advocate in 4 different orders of the Uttarakhand High Court by the same Judge.     

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared on behalf of Advocate Neeraj Garg, argued that the remarks made against the advocate were recorded without putting the counsel to notice or providing any hearing to him. He submitted that those recordings are neither essential nor necessary for the Court’s verdict in the concerned cases.  He further submitted that such adverse comments will not only undermine the professional reputation of the Appellant but would also impact his standing and practice as a lawyer.

The Senior Advocate further argued that the concerned Judge was the member of the same bar as Advocate Neeraj and both were rival counsel in several contested matters before he was elevated in May 2017. He then submitted that comments may have emanated from personal prejudice and may not be otherwise warranted. Amar Dave, who was appointed as Amicus Curiae in this matter, seconded Rohatgi’s arguments.

The bench, while allowing the aggrieved advocate’s appeal, observed that, “while it is of fundamental importance in the realm of administration of justice to allow the judges to discharge their functions freely and fearlessly and without interference by anyone, it is equally important for the judges to be exercising restraint and avoid unnecessary remarks on the conduct of the counsel which may have no bearing on the adjudication of the dispute before the Court.”   

The bench further observed that the advocate was not given opportunity to put forth his explanation and such remarks will not only demean the advocate amongst his professional colleagues but may also adversely impact his professional career. If the same is not removed from the judgments it would be prejudicial and unjust to the advocate.

Some of the remarks made in different orders read as under,

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“…tenacity of argument of the learned counsel for the plaintiff/ appellant was in a manner as if, he was intentionally attempting to make a mountain of a mole, which this Court will not hesitate to re mark that was a brutal assassination of time for those other litigants, whose matters were pending consideration on the said date before this Court.”

“…this Court is constrained to make certain observations, which have been invariably found, to be followed by the learned Counsel, basically intended so as to mislead the Court or to avoid an adjudication of the case on merits and to pose difficulty to the Court… This has been a clear and consistent device, and a tactics which has been adopted by the learned counsel for the petitioner, by placing voluminous records in the Writ Petition, including the copies of precedent/ judgments, on which, the reliance has been placed…This attitude, adopted cannot be ruled out to be a professional and a strategic  device, which  is being adopted, so that Court may at the stage of hearing for admission of writ, due to paucity of time, would be constraint to admit, even the Writ Petitions, which are arising from concurrent judgments… the intention behind making reference to the judgement, was to mislead the  Court   and   to   buy   time   in   prolonging   the proceedings in order to overcome the effect of dismissal of the concurrent, Writ Petitions in limine by placing voluminous judgements on records, and making references of them, by quoting its excerpts.” 

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