HC jails advocate for calling one of its judge ‘corrupt’

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today awarded one month jail term to an woman lawyer for calling one of its Judge as ‘corrupt’ in a criminal contempt case, saying the unsubstantiated statement tends to scandalize and lower the court’s authority.

The court also barred advocate Seema Sapra from arguing, whether as an advocate or in person, except in her defence, before any bench of the High Court or any court or tribunal subordinate to it for a period of two years from today. “Clearly therefore the action of the noticee (Sapra) in calling Justice Vibhu Bakhru as corrupt is an act o criminal contempt of this court. The wholly unsubstantiated statement made against Justice Vibhu Bakhru scandalizes or tends to scandalize this court and also lowers and tends to lower the authority of this court.

“The contemptuous statement prejudices or interferes or tends to interfere with the due course of judicial proceedings inasmuch as the unsubstantiated contemptuous statement has caused recusal of a bench of this court from hearing the matter on May 6, 2015,” a bench of justices Valmiki J Mehta and P S Teji said.

Holding the advocate guilty of contempt of court, the bench awarded a punishment for a period of one month and imposed a fine of Rs 2,000.

“The facts of this case show that the contemnor is not in any manner contrite. Contemnor has been seeking to overawe different benches of this court and has caused recusal of different benches hearing the main writ petition. “After recusal by 28 judges of this court the main writ petition was heard by this Court and dismissed in terms of the judgment dated March 2, 2015. Petitioner has continued in the same vein even in these contempt proceedings as noted in the order dated October 30, 2015,” the bench said.

The woman lawyer in her defence had argued that it is in the heat of the moment that she did make the statement that Justice Vibhu Bakhru was corrupt, and therefore such actions in the heat of the moment could not be taken as contempt of the court.

She had said that she regrets having made the statement made on May 6, 2014 after finding that her matter was adjourned by the bench.

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