3 Lawyers Face Contempt Of Court At Bombay HC For Submitting Fake News Report Targeting Sitting Judge

3 Lawyers Face Contempt Of Court At Bombay HC For Submitting Fake News Report Targeting Sitting Judge

The court refused to accept their apology and said a lawyer was not a mouthpiece of his or her client and that a lawyer cannot commit any act that would malign a judge or bring disrepute to the institution.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Thursday, February 01, 2024, 11:16 PM IST
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Bombay HC | File

The Bombay High Court recently initiated suo motu contempt proceedings against three advocates for submitting a fabricated news report casting aspersions on a sitting HC judge, observing that such an act lowers the dignity of the court.

Court's Observations

Such “deliberate, motivated and contemptuous act” impairs the administration of justice or tends to bring the administration of justice into disrepute or lowers the dignity of the court, a division bench of Justices Anuja Prabhudessai and Nitin Borkar said on January 29.

The court held that the three lawyers – Bhisham Pahuja, Zoheb Merchant and Minal Chandnani – indulged in making a scandalous attack on the judge to browbeat him to recuse from the matter.

The bench directed the HC's registry department to issue notices to the three lawyers to show cause as to why the action under the Contempt of Courts Act should not be taken against them.

During the hearing in a plea filed by one Amar Mulchandani, who was arrested by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) in a money laundering case, seeking quashing of the case, an application was filed by Pahuja. A purported news clipping was attached with the application alleging that Mulchandani had good relations with the HC judge, who was hearing his petition, hence, the case would be quashed. The application hence sought that the petition be transferred to another bench of HC.

Based on HC direction, the police initiated an inquiry into the veracity of the news clipping. A report was submitted by police stating that the news report was false and fabricated. Advocates claimed that they were not aware of this and apologised to the court.

However, the court refused to accept their apology and said a lawyer was not a mouthpiece of his or her client and that a lawyer cannot commit any act that would malign a judge or bring disrepute to the institution.

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