Free Press Journal

Ayodhya Hearing: CJI feels ‘shamed’ by senior lawyers


New Delhi: Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Thursday vented his ire over the “extremely shameful” conduct of senior advocates during the Ayodhya hearing on Tuesday, forcing him to postpone it to February 8, as also an objectionable conduct by one of them on Wednesday before a Constitution Bench he was chairing.

Conveying his deep displeasure over a “small group of lawyers” ignoring traditions of the court by raising their voices, he took exception to Kapil Sibal, Rajeev Dhavan and Dushyant Dave threatening to leave the Court on its refusal to put off the Ayodhya hearing until July 2019, just as senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan was asked to commence his arguments.

The CJI chose to express his anguish at this attempt of the senior advocates to walk out, though the Bench headed by him had put on record in Tuesday’s order itself the “shocking and surprising” submission to recuse themselves from the proceedings, since their plea to postpone the hearing had been rejected.

In the order, the Bench had said: “We are compelled to note that Mr Sibal, Mr Dhavan and Mr Dushyant sought themselves to be recused from the proceedings. We declined the said permission and we must say that they accepted. If we permit ourselves to say so, the submission was shocking and surprising.”

“And when we proceeded to record so, a prayer was made not to do so and we, accepting the fervent request made by the counsel, refrain from,” the order added.

Since one of the lawyers again showed a sort of disrespect on Wednesday when the Constitution Bench reserved the judgment on a tussle between the Centre and Delhi Government on powers to administer Delhi, the CJI chose to register his protest in the strongest words on such conduct by the seniors right at the start of day’s proceedings.

He said: “What happened yesterday (Wednesday) was shameful, and what happened the day before yesterday (Tuesday) was extremely shameful.” He was referring to Dhavan telling the Constitution Bench on Wednesday that he won’t mind whatever would be the judgment and another senior advocate Indira Jaising objecting to her colleague’s “presumptive” remark instead of waiting for the verdict.

The Chief Justice on Thursday appreciated Indira Jaising for rightly telling Dhavan that he can’t be presumptive about the judgment. He said: “Unfortunately a small group of lawyers think that they can raise their voice. We make it clear raising of voice will not be tolerated.  Raising of voice only shows your (lawyers) inadequacy and incompetency.”

Reminding the bar of its traditions, he further said: “It is not the tradition of the Bar (body of lawyers). If Bar does not regulate itself, we will compel it to regulate itself.” He reminded the lawyers that it was not for nothing that early this year he elevated the status of the advocates-on-record by permitting them alone to mention the matters and ejecting the seniors from doing so.

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