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'Contempt threat' to lawyer: SC judge apologises

Source: PTI
Last updated on: December 05, 2019 23:16 IST

Supreme Court judge Justice Arun Mishra Thursday said he would "apologise a hundred times" with "folded hands" if anybody is hurt by his words, two days after he had warned a senior lawyer of contempt action while hearing land acquisition matter.

Justice Mishra's remarks came after a battery of senior lawyers led by Kapil Sibal, Mukul Rohatgi, A M Singhvi, Dushyant Dave and Supreme Court Bar Association President Rakesh Khanna requested him to be patient in dealing with them during the course of judicial proceedings.

"If I have hurt anybody, I not only apologise but I will give 'dandavat' apology a hundred times," Justice Mishra said, adding, "If anybody has felt anything at any point of time, with folded hands, I am apologising".

He further said, "I am more associated with the bar. From me, you can take it that the bar is the mother of the bench. I respect the bar like anything. From the core of my heart, I am saying that please do not have that impression in your mind."

Justice Mishra, who heads a 5-judge Constitution bench hearing land acquisition matters, warned senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan on Tuesday of contempt while he was advancing his arguments.

The lawyers mentioned the issue on Thursday as soon as the bench of justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah assembled in court number three for the day's proceedings.

Sibal said both the bar and the bench are part of this great institution and they have mentioned this issue not for any individual but due to the cumulative effect of several incidents which have happened in the past.

"I request your lordship to be little more patient. I only request that both the bench and the bar have to maintain the decorum. We are just requesting that allow this tradition to continue and let the respect for each other also continue," Sibal said, adding the "environment of discourtesy" should not be there.

 

Singhvi said that with folded hand, the lawyers are requesting the court that the "bonhomie and ambience" in the court should be maintained and there should be environment of encouragement especially for young lawyers.

Dave said that young members of the bar need encouragement from the bench and "please help us all to rebuilt this great institution".

At this juncture, Justice Shah said that anything has to be mutual and while referring to the Tuesday's incident, he said, "In fact, we called him (Sankaranarayanan) for his submissions but he blatantly refused. Even courtesy require this that he should have politely told us what he wants to do".

Sibal reiterated that it is not about the Tuesday's incident but it is a cumulative effect of several instances.

Rohatgi, while saying that cordiality between the bar and the bench should always be maintained, said that lot of young lawyers are "fearful" in coming to Justice Mishra's court and this affects the institution.

To this, Justice Shah said, "My brother (Justice Mishra) wants to say something with love. Please listen him".

Justice Mishra said if the lawyers have any impression that he was against the bar, then "it is my fault that I have failed to make you understand".

"It is for the institution. No judge can have more respect for the bar that me. I respect the bar," he said, adding, "I have not drawn any contempt against any lawyer so far in my career as a judge".

"The burden that is put upon this forum, the number of cases I am dealing with is so much that under pressure if I had said anything, I want to say that I never meant it from the core of my heart," he said.

Justice Mishra said if he has hurt anybody, he is always ready to apologise not only to those who are present in the court but also to those who are anywhere in the world.

Regarding Sankaranarayanan, he said, "He is half of my age. He is a brilliant lawyer but he should not have shown arrogance to the five-judge bench."

"He was given a chance to argue but he did not. He is projecting as if he had started arguing and we had stopped him. That is not correct," he said.

Justice Mishra said that "arrogance" is destroying the institution of bar and lawyers should always be polite while arguing their matters.

"If you give respect, you will get respect in return," he said, adding, "When I rise from here (dias), I forget everything. I do not have any grudge against anyone."

When Justice Mishra said Sibal was also the Law Minister of India, Sibal said, "I have given my life for this great institution".

The judge further said courts are not being addressed properly now a days and "so much attacks" have been made on it.

Justice Mishra said though he was criticised throughout his career, he has always remained a "pro-bar judge".

He said lawyers should refrain from making personal comments while arguing their case.

The proceedings in the court saw some lighter moments as well when Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said he echoes the sentiments of "younger advocates".

Singhvi intervened, "Yes, I hope we are younger than Mr Mehta".

"Are we not younger by heart?," Justice Shah said after which the jam-packed courtroom burst into laughter.

Senior lawyer Shekhar Naphade said, "All is well that ends well".

Khanna told the bench that the independence of the judiciary and the bar was very important and there was a need to maintain a mutual and cordial respect among the bar and the bench.

Justice Mishra told the SCBA president to ask Sankaranarayanan to meet him and said he was a very intelligent lawyer and he wishes him a bright future.

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