‘Advocates Who Make Scandalous Remarks Against Court Without Reasonable Grounds Can Be Held Liable For Contempt’: Bombay HC

‘Advocates Who Make Scandalous Remarks Against Court Without Reasonable Grounds Can Be Held Liable For Contempt’: Bombay HC

A division bench of Justices Nitin Sambre and Nitin Borkar said it was contemplating taking action against two advocates and issuing contempt notice against their client for the same

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Tuesday, December 26, 2023, 07:43 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | PTI

An advocate signing an application or pleading with scandalous remarks against the court without reasonable grounds to create an “artificial situation” so that the judge recuses from the matter may be liable for a contempt action, the Bombay High Court has said. 

A division bench of Justices Nitin Sambre and Nitin Borkar said it was contemplating taking action against two advocates and issuing contempt notice against their client for the same. 

Obligation to court

The bench remarked that in a conflict between a lawyer's obligations to the Court and his duty to the client, “what prevails first is his obligation to the Court”. 

The court made the observation while dealing with a praecipe (application to circulate the matter) filed through Advocate Zoheb Merchant, junior of Advocate Minal Jaiwant Chandnani. It was filed  on behalf of their client, Bhisham Pahuja. Along with the praecipe they attached a newspaper article in which aspersions were cast against Justice Sambre. 

During the hearing, when the court questioned Chandnani she said she stood by the contents of the praecipe. 

Unconditional apology by lawyers

The bench then noted that both the lawyers’ conduct was scandalising the court and was trying to create an artificial situation so that the matter was not taken up and the judge would recuse from the case. The lawyers then rendered an unconditional apology.

The  court has directed the  Commissioner of Police, Pimpri-Chinchwad, to ensure contempt notice was served to the client, Bhisham Pahuja. It has also sought details of the local  newspaper 'Rajdharma' which published the scandalous article. 

The judges said they will consider whether the apology tendered by the advocates was bonafide. 

“The Judges of the Bench are expected to decide the disputes brought before them free from any personal bias or prejudice. The parties like the aforesaid lawyers and the litigants to whom they represent create an artificial perception that by scandalizing the Courts and the Judges they can secure a order of recusal,” the bench noted, adding: “In such an eventuality, we are of the view that the lawyers and the litigants who exhibit such behavior are required to be dealt with an iron hand by taking stern action.” 

The HC has kept the matter for hearing on January 12, 2024.

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