By Akanksha Singh
In the Supreme Court of India
|NAME OF THE CASE
|National Lawyers’ Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms v. Union of India and others
|WRIT PETITION (C) NO. 191 OF 2019
|DATE OF JUDGMENT
|12 March 2019
|National Lawyers’ Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms
|Union Of India And Ors.
|The Hon’ble Mr. Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman & The Hon’ble Mr. Justice Vineet Saran
|Constitution of India Contempt of Court Act, 1971 Advocates Act, 1961
|Constitution of India – Articles 12, 13(2), 32, 215, 226 Contempt of Court Act – Section 14 Advocates Act, 1961 – Section 16(2)
The main issue in this case is the learned attorney Shri Nedumpara being held in contempt of court. He said that since the Court’s judges exclusively name their relatives as Senior Advocates, they are completely unqualified to do so. Shri Nedumpara adopted the name Shri Fali S. Nariman after being questioned about whether such a designation should be given as a matter of generosity. After being warned by the Court, he once more used the name Shri Fali S. Nariman. We will examine how his words and actions constitute contempt of court and what the court’s ruling in this instance was. In accordance with Article 32 of the Constitution, Shri Nedumpara is requesting a second review of the Supreme Court of India’s decision in Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India.
This specific lawyer has previously tried to intimidate and disparage the judges of this Court. In actuality, this particular counsel tends to continue arguing while repeating Latin proverbs, and when he discovers that the Court does not agree with him, he begins to get aggressive. The court further finds that this attorney is advised to appear in hopeless matters and tries to intimidate the court into making discretionary decisions that no other court would be willing to make. The court has determined that the great majority of the instances in which this attorney has appeared before us have involved debtors who have repeatedly defaulted, necessitating the transfer of their mortgaged properties to secured creditors for auction sale. Shri Nedumpara is given instructions at this point to find a way to postpone the auction sale. Even the present Writ Petition is a case in which a review petition against the judgment of this Court in Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India, has already been dismissed. Shri Nedumpara requests a second review in the form of a writ petition under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, fully aware that a second review petition is prohibited under Order XLVII Rule 5 of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013.
FACT OF THE CASE
Shri Mathews Nedumpara, a knowledgeable attorney representing the petitioners in the current Writ Petition, claimed during the hearing that the Judges of the Court are completely unqualified to name anyone as Senior Advocates since they exclusively name the Judges’ families as Senior Advocates. Shri Nedumpara adopted the name Shri Fali S. Nariman after being questioned about whether such a designation should be given as a matter of generosity. After being warned by the Court, he once more used the name Shri Fali S. Nariman. After that, when the Court questioned the parties on the significance of accepting the Signature Not Verified Digitally Signed by R NATARAJAN Date: March 12, 2019, 16:38:48 IST The reason was that Shri Fali S. Nariman immediately denied doing it.
Only when other court attendees verified that they had heard him adopt the learned Senior Advocate’s name did he make an attempt to defend himself, but he was unable to provide a convincing justification.
The Court believes that the only purpose of using the learned Senior Advocate’s name, which has no connection to the current issue, is to humiliate one of us and browbeat the Court. Then Shri Nedumpara started saying things that had nothing to do with the current situation. Your Lordships have great powers of disdain, and Tihar Jail is not distant, he said. He continued by arguing that since they are bound by the law, attorneys are shielded from contempt just like judges are. Additionally, he said that a lawyer cannot be the subject of a defamation lawsuit or be the target of a contempt case since doing so would violate their right to complete independence. All of these utterances are disrespectful to the court and have a direct impact on how justice is administered. Apart from that, an order dated November 19, 2018, in Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 26424 of 2018, which is detailed below, noted that the said attorney had already engaged in behaviour unbecoming of an attorney.
On October 22, 2018, Shri Mathews Nedumpara, the petitioner’s attorney, appeared in court. He said that starting on October 22nd, 2018, Rs. 80 lakhs would be paid over the course of four weeks. He was given a week starting on October 22nd, 2018, by the court to make the required payment. Since no such payment was made within a week, the special leave petition was rejected without further court intervention. However, on November 14, 2018, Shri Nedumpara brought up the same issue in court while accompanied by an AOR without alerting us to the fact that the S.L.P. had previously been rejected without referring to this Court. When the case was brought before the court, the judge repeatedly questioned Shri Nedumpara as to why he had withheld the ruling dated October 22nd from us when the subject was brought before us on November 14th, 2018. No response was given to this. The court then admonished Shri Nedumpara that his first responsibility as a lawyer in front of the court is to fully inform the court of all relevant information before asking for any orders. He has been cautioned by the court that should another incident of a similar sort ever emerge before this court, it would be dealt with harshly due to his unseemly behaviour as an advocate. Because the appellant, for whom Shri Nedumpara stands, already seems to be in financial trouble, the court refrained from imposing substantial costs.
ISSUES RAISED BEFORE THE COURT
The issue for determination, in this case, was:
- Whether there should of contempt of court proceeding against the Shri Mathews Nedumpara?
- Is the writ petition seeking the second review of a judgement is valid or not?
- Does the conduct of Shri Mathews Nedumpara lower the dignity and authority of the Court?
ARGUMENTS RAISED BY THE APPELLATE
- According to Shri Mathews Nedumpara, attorneys are protected by the law and, like judges, are immune from being held in contempt. Additionally, he said that a lawyer cannot be the subject of a defamation lawsuit or be the target of a contempt case since doing so would violate their right to complete independence.
- Shri Nedumpara filed a petition asking the aforementioned Bombay High Court Single Judge to abstain from considering cases in which Advocate Nedumpara represents one of the parties.
ARGUMENTS RAISED BY THE RESPONDENT
- The orderly operation of the Court will be severely hampered if any member of the Bar or the litigating public is permitted to compel the Court to take up an issue at his leisure. Mr. Mathews has continued in interfering with the procedures and has disregarded advice.
- The way Mr. Nedumpara addressed the Court was exceedingly rude and unpleasant. He kept saying how he is not being heard, only because the Court asked him to address it in the Official Liquidators Report. In the context of his most inappropriate allegation that he is not being heard or that he is being treated unfairly, his tone and tenor were accusing, frequently breaking into Latin maxims.
- In my opinion, Mr. Nedumpara’s obstructionist behaviour was meant to hinder the administration of justice, diminish the Court’s dignity, and undermine its authority.
- Constitution of India
- Article 32: Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by this Part
(1) The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed
(2) The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part
(3) Without prejudice to the powers conferred on the Supreme Court by clause ( 1 ) and ( 2 ), Parliament may by law empower any other court to exercise within the local limits of its jurisdiction all or any of the powers exercisable by the Supreme Court under clause ( 2 )
(4) The right guaranteed by this article shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution
- Article 12: Definition In this part, unless the context otherwise requires, the State includes the Government and Parliament of India and the Government and the Legislature of each of the States and all local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India
- Article 13(2): The State shall not make any law which takes away or abridges the rights conferred by this Part and any law made in contravention of this clause shall, to the extent of the contravention, be void
- Article 215: High Courts to be courts of record Every High Court shall be a court of record and shall have all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of itself
- Article 226: Power of High Courts to issue certain writs
(1) Notwithstanding anything in Article 32 every High Court shall have powers, throughout the territories in relation to which it exercise jurisdiction, to issue to any person or authority, including in appropriate cases, any Government, within those territories directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibitions, quo warranto and certiorari, or any of them, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III and for any other purpose
(2) The power conferred by clause ( 1 ) to issue directions, orders or writs to any Government, authority or person may also be exercised by any High Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to the territories within which the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises for the exercise of such power, notwithstanding that the seat of such Government or authority or the residence of such person is not within those territories
(3) Where any party against whom an interim order, whether by way of injunction or stay or in any other manner, is made on, or in any proceedings relating to, a petition under clause ( 1 ), without
(a) furnishing to such party copies of such petition and all documents in support of the plea for such interim order; and
(b) giving such party an opportunity of being heard, makes an application to the High Court for the vacation of such order and furnishes a copy of such application to the party in whose favour such order has been made or the counsel of such party, the High Court shall dispose of the application within a period of two weeks from the date on which it is received or from the date on which the copy of such application is so furnished, whichever is later, or where the High Court is closed on the last day of that period, before the expiry of the next day afterwards on which the High Court is open; and if the application is not so disposed of, the interim order shall, on the expiry of that period, or, as the case may be, the expiry of the aid next day, stand vacated
(4) The power conferred on a High Court by this article shall not be in derogation of the power conferred on the Supreme court by clause ( 2 ) of Article 32
- Contempt of Court Act
- Section 14: Procedure where contempt is in the face of the Supreme Court or a High Court.—
(1) When it is alleged, or appears to the Supreme Court or the High Court upon its own view, that a person has been guilty of contempt committed in its presence or hearing, the Court may cause such person to be detained in custody, and, at any time before the rising of the Court, on the same day, or as early as possible thereafter, shall— —(1) When it is alleged, or appears to the Supreme Court or the High Court upon its own view, that a person has been guilty of contempt committed in its presence or hearing, the Court may cause such person to be detained in custody, and, at any time before the rising of the Court, on the same day, or as early as possible thereafter, shall—”
(a) cause him to be informed in writing of the contempt with which he is charged;
(b) afford him an opportunity to make his defence to the charge;
(c) after taking such evidence as may be necessary or as may be offered by such person and after hearing him, proceed, either forthwith or after adjournment, to determine the matter of the charge; and
(d) make such order for the punishment or discharge of such person as may be just.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where a person charged with contempt under that sub-section applies, whether orally or in writing, to have the charge against him tried by some Judge other than the Judge or Judges in whose presence or hearing the offence is alleged to have been committed, and the Court is of opinion that it is practicable to do so and that in the interests of proper administration of justice the application should be allowed, it shall cause the matter to be placed, together with a statement of the facts of the case, before the Chief Justice for such directions as he may think fit to issue as respects the trial thereof.
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, in any trial of a person charged with contempt under sub-section (1) which is held, in pursuance of a direction given under sub-section (2), by a Judge other than the Judge or Judges in whose presence or hearing the offence is alleged to have been committed, it shall not be necessary for the Judge or Judges in whose presence or hearing the offence is alleged to have been committed to appear as a witness and the statement placed before the Chief Justice under sub-section (2) shall be treated as evidence in the case.
(4) Pending the determination of the charge, the Court may direct that a person charged with contempt under this section shall be detained in such custody as it may specify: Provided that he shall be released on bail, if a bond for such sum of money as the Court thinks sufficient is executed with or without sureties conditioned that the person charged shall attend at the time and place mentioned in the bond and shall continue to so attend until otherwise directed by the Court: Provided further that the Court may, if it thinks fit, instead of taking bail from such person, discharge him on his executing a bond without sureties for his attendance as aforesaid.
- Advocates Act, 1961
- Section 16(2): An advocate may, with his consent, be designated as senior advocate if the Supreme Court or a High Court is of opinion that by virtue of his ability 1[standing at the Bar or special knowledge or experience in law] he is deserving of such distinction.
The Supreme Court finds that what took place today in court is not only extremely regrettable but also strongly undesirable, impacting the solemnity and sanctity of the legal procedures. Mr. Nedumpara’s actions have negatively impacted the administration of justice as well as the Court’s reputation. The main purpose of the Court, as the Court may note, is to administer justice in accordance with the law. As a result, it is generally accepted that Court hearings must always be conducted with dignity and order. If Mr. Nedumpara’s disrespectful actions are not taken seriously, the Court’s dignity and majesty will be damaged, undermining public faith in the effectiveness of the institution of the Court. The Court’s lawyer is supposed to be a responsible officer of the Court. According to the court, Mr. Nedumpara’s actions amount to a flagrant contempt of the court, and it is essential to take legal action in accordance with the Contempt of Court Act of 1971. This type of behaviour calls for harsh punishment.
Even though the court could have penalised Shri Nedumpara with this order alone, it did so out of fairness by giving him notice of the punishment that would be meted out for disrespecting the court. notice that must be returned within two weeks of today. Within four weeks of today, the Secretary General is to distribute this judgement to the Chief Justice of each High Court in this nation, the Bar Council of India, and the Bar Council of Kerala.
Regarding the Writ Petition, it essentially asks for a second review of the ruling we made in Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India through Secretary General and Others. A petition under Article 32 does not, under any circumstances, lay in opposition to a decision made by this Court. The Senior Advocate designation cannot be a matter of favour or a matter of right, according to the court, who also believe that Section 16(2) of the Advocates Act, 1961, is a provision that cannot be deemed unconstitutional. Because of these factors, the Writ Petition is denied.
Judges’ hands are not chained behind their backs when contempt is committed in front of the Court. The administration of justice and the grandeur of this Court both necessitate that disrespectful behaviour of this nature be dealt with severely. When a judge is personally insulted, it is appropriate for the judge to handle the problem himself in cases of contempt in the court, according to an early ruling of this Court in Sukhdev Singh Sodhi v. Chief Justice S. Teja Singh.
In Leila David (2) v. State of Maharashtra, two distinguished Judges disagreed on the issue of whether contempt of court can be dealt with hastily without giving notice to the violators and if punishment can be meted out to them right away. Pasayat, J. held that this is, indeed, the duty of the Court. Ganguly, J. differed. A three-Judge Bench of this Court, in Leila David (6) v. State of Maharashtra, settled the law, making it clear that Pasayat, J.’s view was the correct view in law. Although Section 14 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, specifies the process to be used in cases of criminal contempt in front of the court, it does not prevent the court from using summary proceedings when a deliberate and wilful contumacious incident occurs in front of them and the general public, including Senior Law Officers, such as the Attorney General for India who was then the Solicitor General of India.
A judge does not become a judge to gain popularity of any type; they become judges to administer justice impartially and without favour. Again, he will not be loyal to his oath if he decides it is more practical to disqualify himself from a case than to defend himself against a litigant or lawyer who causes him nightmares by disparaging or insinuating things about him that are wholly false and inaccurate.
 Author is 4th semester student of ICFAI University, Dehradun.
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