Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Dushyant Dave on Tuesday wrote to secretary general of the apex court lodging "strong protest" on "selective listing" of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami's interim bail plea in the 2018 case of alleged abetment to suicide of an interior designer, before a vacation bench on November 11.
A vacation bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjeewill hear on Wednesday the interim bail plea of Goswami in the 2018 case of alleged abetment to suicide Anvay Naik and his mother in 2018 over alleged non-payment of dues.
'Nothing personal against Goswami'
Dave clarified that he has nothing personal against Goswami and he is not writing this letter to anyway interfere in with his rights to move the Supreme Court as like all citizens, the editor-in-chief of Republic TV also has right to seek justice from the highest court.
"The serious issue here is selective listing of matters that the registry under your leadership is indulging in for last eight months during COVID pandemic. While thousands of citizens remain in jails, languishing for long periods while their matters filed before the Supreme Court are not getting listed for weeks and months, it is, to say the least, deeply disturbing as to how and why every time Goswami approaches the Supreme Court, his matter gets listed instantly," Dave said in his letter.
'Is there any special direction from CJI?'
The SCBA chief further questioned "Is there any special order or direction from the Chief Justice of India and the Master of the Roaster in this regard?" and added that it is quite well known that such "extraordinarily urgent listings" of matters cannot and does not take place without specific orders from the Chief Justice.
He said, "Or is it that as the administrative head you (secretary general) or the registrar listing is giving special preference to Goswami?"
Dave said that it is on record, that time and again he has received requests from various Advocates-on-Record (AORs) to the effect that the matters filed by them are not getting listed for weeks and months though very urgent and involving serious issues requiring Court's urgent intervention including bail matters.
"They (advocates) have even complained, giving names, that certain AORs matters get instant listing while they have to wait in queue for long time," he added.
"I must place on record that in few cases you have kindly helped in getting such matters listed. But that is not the issue. Issue here is why is this selective listing taking place when system is supposedly computerised and is to work automatically? Why is it that despite the same, matters are getting circulated and that too before only few benches? Why is there no fool proof system to be just and fair to all Citizens and all AORs?" Dave questioned.
He said that even someone like former union minister P Chidambaram, could not get similar "speed listing and had to spend long months in jail till finally the Supreme Court declares that he deserved to be bailed out."
"So, likes of Goswami gets special treatment while ordinary Indians are made to suffer, including Imprisonment, which are many times illegal and unauthorised," Dave pointed out.
He said Goswami's plea against the Bombay High Court order was filed yesterday, it got instant diary number, though not final, and it is listed for tomorrow (November 11).
"This is a gross abuse of administrative power, whosoever has exercised it on administrative side. It gives an impression that clients represented by certain lawyers are getting special treatment, which does not speak well of the great institution, that the Supreme Court is," he said.
Requesting that till fool proof system is installed to ensure urgent listing on well-known principles and till the matters filed by various AORs are listed, Dave said that the secretary general should not allow Goswami's plea to be heard.
He requested the secretary general to place his letter before the bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud which is scheduled to take up Goswami's plea.
Listed within hours of filing of appeal
Within hours of filing of Goswami's appeal against the Bombay High Court's rejection of his bail, the apex court registry listed it for hearing by a vacation bench.
The plea, filed through lawyer Nirnimesh Dubey, would be heard at 10.30 AM on Wednesday.
The Bombay High Court on Monday refused to grant interim bail to Goswami and two others in the case and had asked them to move to the local court for the relief.
Besides the Maharashtra government, Goswami who is lodged in Taloja jail, has made the Centre, the Alibaug police station SHO, Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh and Akshyata Anvay Naik as parties to his appeal.
Maha govt files caveat
The state government through his lawyer Sachin Patil has also filed a caveat in the top court to ensure that no order is passed on Goswami's plea without it being heard in the case.
The three accused were arrested by Alibaug police in Maharashtra's Raigad district on November 4 in connection with the suicide of architect-interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother in 2018 over alleged non-payment of dues by companies of the accused.
Meanwhile, the hearing on Goswami's bail plea is also scheduled to be heard in the trial court during the day.
Bombay HC order
Earlier, the high court, while rejecting the interim bail pleas of Goswami and the two other accused Feroze Shaikh and Nitish Sarda, said, "no case has been made out for us (court) to exercise our extraordinary jurisdiction".
"The petitioners have the efficacious remedy of seeking bail before the sessions court concerned. We have already noted earlier that if such bail plea is filed, then the sessions court shall decide the same in four days," it said on Monday.
Goswami, Shaikh and Sarda had last week filed petitions in the high court challenging their "illegal arrest" in the case and seeking interim bail.
Apart from seeking the interim bail, the journalist and other accused had also sought that a direction from the high court for staying the investigation into the case and quash the FIR against them.
The high court will hear their pleas seeking to quash the FIR on December 10.
Goswami was arrested on November 4 from his Lower Parel residence in Mumbai and taken to Alibaug in neighbouring Raigad district.
He and the two other accused were later produced before a magistrate who refused to send them in police custody and remanded them in judicial custody till November 18.
Goswami was initially kept at a local school which is designated as a COVID-19 quarantine centre for the Alibaug prison.
He was on Sunday shifted to the Taloja jail in Raigad district after allegedly being found using a mobile phone while in judicial custody.
(With PTI inputs)