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Judges not infallible, but wrong to attribute motives, says SC

Source: PTI
November 18, 2022 22:42 IST
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There is a rising "trend" to scandalise courts, the Supreme Court said on Friday while issuing contempt notices, including to two advocates, for allegedly attributing motive to a Madhya Pradesh high court judge in a matter related to lease of fishing rights.

Taking strong exception that the endeavour is to allegedly scandalise the court, the apex court said a judge is not "infallible" and may have passed a wrong order which can be set aside later, but attributing motives to the judge cannot be permitted.

"There is a trend to scandalise the court which is rising," a bench of justices S K Kaul and A S Oka orally observed.


"You have attributed motives to the chief justice of the high court for passing an order which may be right or may be wrong," the top court observed.

The Supreme Court was hearing a plea against the order passed in August by a Madhya Pradesh high court division bench of which its chief justice was a part.

It also issued notices including to an advocate-on-record (AoR) and the counsel who drew the plea on behalf of the petitioner, asking them to explain as to why they should not be proceeded against with contempt for their endeavour to allegedly scandalise the court.

The counsel appearing for the petitioner said he would amend the petition.

"An order may be right, may be wrong. That is not the issue. It is what you have pleaded which has troubled us," the apex court bench said.

When the petitioner's counsel said it is a "legal mistake" on his part, the bench said, "Because of your adventure, the litigant suffers."

The counsel said he has been a practising advocate for 35 years and urged, "Please, do not destroy my future."

The bench asked the lawyer to file his affidavit saying that the contempt notice has been issued by the court. "You cannot go away by saying whatever you want to say," the top court observed.

The bench said an AoR is not for just putting his signature on the petition. "Are we making AoRs only for signing purpose? He has to explain this," it said, adding that "at the moment, we have issued notice of contempt."

"A judge may have passed a wrong order. We may set it aside. The opinion of a judge is his view. We are not infallible. We can also make mistakes," the bench observed.

When the counsel urged that he be allowed to amend the petition, the bench said it would not permit it unless the affidavit is filed.

The top court posted the matter for hearing in December.

The high court division bench had passed its order in August on a plea against an order by its single judge.

The single judge had dismissed a plea filed by a society, registered under the Madhya Pradesh Cooperative Societies Act, 1960, which was granted a lease by an October 2012 order for a period of 10 years by the district collector concerned.

The division bench had noted in its order that when the period expired, authorities had called for fresh applications for the fishing rights. The society had made an application seeking extension of lease period, it had noted.

It had also noted that after the lease period expired, a petition was filed seeking a direction to the municipal council, Tikamgarh, to publish the notice inviting applications and other consequential reliefs.       

In its order, the division bench of the high court had observed that in the larger interest of justice, all persons interested in bidding for the same should be given an equal opportunity.

It had said the municipal council shall issue a fresh advertisement within a month and thereafter, process all the applications and pass appropriate orders in accordance with law.

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