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Cracking hard nuts: Gujarat High Court shows the way!

Gujarat High Court
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Gujarat High Court (file / photo)
Highlights

Even when the apex court is still grappling with the question of punishment after finally concluding that one of its senior lawyer, an officer of the court, Prashant Bhushan has been guilty of the contempt of the court, the Gujarat High Court in the most unequivocal terms has come down heavily on a similar State-level heavy weight and head of the High Court Bar Association, Yatin Oza and deflated the contemnor’s ego

Even when the apex court is still grappling with the question of punishment after finally concluding that one of its senior lawyer, an officer of the court, Prashant Bhushan has been guilty of the contempt of the court, the Gujarat High Court in the most unequivocal terms has come down heavily on a similar State-level heavy weight and head of the High Court Bar Association, Yatin Oza and deflated the contemnor's ego. The kid-gloves approach adopted by the apex court, for whatever reasons, in the case of Prashant Bhushan was totally absent in case of Oza. That is why the High Court could arrive at a conclusion.

Like Prashant Bhushan in the supreme court, Yatin Oza too, was slapped with the contempt notice suo motu by the State High Court for his contemptuous statements regarding functioning of the High Court and its Registry. Oza made an unsuccessful bid to stall the proceedings by approaching the apex court, after which he tendered an unconditional apology.

But the full court resolution of the High Court did not accept it as it lacked sincere remorse. A division bench comprising, Justice Sonia Gokani and N V Anjaria in its judgment dated August 27 observed: "Mere apology may not be an answer to an act, utterance or publication of contempt which is grave in nature so as to scandalise the majesty, dignity and authority of the court. The school of thought of 'Give Slap, say sorry and forget' was not endorsed to by the Supreme Court in LD Jaikwal."

Indeed, the tough stand taken by the High Court will have a chilling effect over legal fraternity, but that is the need of the hour. Any Tom, Dick and Harry cannot be allowed to bark with his wide mouth at the courts and lower its dignity and majesty.

One does not become a 'big' lawyer by using insulting language against judges and anybody concerned with the justice delivery mechanism. In the cases on hand, both lawyers are the repeat offenders having bitten dust on earlier occasions. Therefore, logical course for the Supreme Court was to inflict the maximum punishment prescribed under the law to Prashant Bhushan and stripping him off his 'Senior' designation. That could have reduced him to zero who aspired to be hero by quoting Mahatma Gandhi.

Unfortunately, a lobby with a singular agenda of demeaning judiciary and belittling the learned judges has been active. In the name of freedom of expression this lobby has been indulging in indiscipline, abuse and name-calling games. Added to this, the lobby gets unwarranted support and sympathy from some retired judges and bar associations. Even the Attorney General in case of Prashant Bhushan tried to whitewash the entire suo motu exercise of the apex court by pleading for mercy to the contemnor which the latter never asked.

Such strange conduct of the first lawyer of the country needs to be seriously probed and pending an enquiry the Attorney General should be suspended immediately.

Last but not the least, the statement of Bhushan's lawyers made at a webinar on August 26 that the citizens should continue to show mirror to judges is nothing but highly contemptuous and inciting the people against the judges and thereby the judiciary of the country. Dave, too, needs to be taught a lesson or two in the matters like respecting the judges and the procedures of the court to ensure justice to the people.

It is high time that Parliament take a holistic view of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971 and amends it suitably so as to instill the fear of law which alone can scare the unruly people from indulging in nonsensical tirades against the judiciary.

• Wives beware!

Here comes some cautionary news for the estranged wives, particularly those who are under the wrong impression that the laws of the land are blindly supporting them irrespective of the bald allegations they might make against their husbands and his relatives.

Delivering the judgment in an appeal filed by the wife, Anita Gaur against her husband Rajesh Gaur, the Uttarakhand High Court on August 24 affirmed the lower court's judgment granting the decree of divorce mainly on the ground of cruelty.

The division bench comprising Justice Narayan Singh Dhanik and Justice Ravi Malimath while dismissing the appeal filed by the wife noted that the wife, without informing her spouse borrowed money on interest from many persons, made purchases on credit, used to steal ornaments and valuables from her own house and leveled so many allegations against her spouse which she failed to substantiate.

The High Court observed that the word 'cruelty' has not been defined under the law and that the same could be physical or mental. "In the matrimonial life, cruelty may be of unfounded variety. But before the conduct could be called cruelty, it must touch the certain pitch of severity and conduct should be such that no reasonable person would tolerate it. It should be willful and unjustifiable conduct. The enquiry, therefore, has to be whether the conduct charged as cruelty is of such a character or not ?''

• Hearing victim in bailable offence not mandatory: Gujarat HC

In a writ petition filed before the Gujarat High Court for declaring Sec.15A(3) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 as violative of Art. 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India, the bench comprising Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JB Pardiwala ruled that "when a person is accused of committing only bailable offence or offences under the Act, it is not mandatory to grant opportunity of hearing to the victim or the dependent as provided in u/s 15A(5) of the Act in a proceeding relating to granting bail to such accused." The question of law in the writ is yet to be answered by the bench.

• New date for Bar exam

The Bar Council of India has decided to hold the All India Bar Examination on November 8 and has extended the date for online applications till October 17. The date of examination was postponed due to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic. The Bar Council of India has released the updated schedule of AIBE XV which can be viewed on https://www.allindiabarexamination.com.

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