Mumbai: Observing that now-a-days the judiciary is mires in challenges of a very “grave nature” wherein litigants and advocates do not hesitate to level baseless allegations against judges, the Bombay High Court recently imposed a fine of Rs 10 on a developer. The HC said such instances must be dealt sternly by the courts and ensure not a single such instance us ever tolerated.
A single-judge bench of Justice Shahrukh Kathawala said, “In the present times the judiciary is mired in challenges of a very grave nature, perhaps like never before. It is being observed that there is, amongst some litigants and their Advocates, virtually no fear or hesitation in making false statements and misrepresentations before the Court, which should under any and all circumstances be dealt with the iron hand of the judiciary with zero tolerance for such blatantly unethical and mala-fide behaviour.”
“The dignity and respect of the Court along with its prescribed procedures is being unabashedly violated by certain litigants who are using foul and unfair means to demean and denounce the august Judiciary by making frivolous and baseless allegations against the Judges, and/or their opponents and their Advocates, with a view to rescind and back-track on solemn undertakings and statements earlier made in Court. This malicious modus operandi of certain dishonest litigants is absolutely unacceptable, as it seeks to subvert the very foundations of justice that the Judiciary is committed to uphold,” Justice Kathawala said while expressing displeasure over the tac tics of advocates.
The scathing observations were made by Justice Kathawala while hearing a suit filed by one Vilas Gaonkar, a developer by profession. The developer had accused Justice Kathawala of forcing him to file an undertaking, which he could not adhere to, on a next hearing. The developer was represented by advocate Mathews Nedumpara, who on instructions had sought recusal of Justice Kathawala from hearing his matters.
Having heard the contentions, Justice Kathawala said, “Certain Advocates sadly seem to have forgotten the code of eithcs that enjoins upon all Advocates, that they are Officers of the Court first and Advocates of their clients only thereafter. It is anguishing to note that such Advocates facilitate the unethical misadventures of their clients, often encouraging their clients’ dishonest practices, causing grave stress to the Judiciary, and unfortunately bringing the entire judicial system to disrepute.”
“It has become a vicious and despicable cycle wherein dishonest litigants with mala-fide intentions seek out unethical Advocates, who for hefty fee and the lure of attracting similar new and unscrupulous clients, conveniently choose to disregard and/or forget all ethics and the code of conduct enjoined upon this august profession. It is with a heavy heart, that Courts at times note that clients have no hesitation in replacing good and honest Advocates, with unscrupulous ones, who go to any dishonest lengths, merely to secure favourable orders for their clients,” Justice Kathawala observed further.
Giving out a strong message to such litigants and while imposing Rs 10 lakh fine on the developer, Justice Kathawala said, “Courts must tackle all such unethical conduct fearlessly by taking stern action against litigants, and if need be their unethical Advocates as well. A failure to do so, will result in seriously jeopardising the Judiciary and will erode the Rule of Law, which is absolutely integral to the justice system in the country.”