The Supreme Court Monday said that making allegations against judges is 'unfortunately' becoming a new fashion now and the stronger the judge, greater the allegations against him.
The apex court, while hearing an appeal filed by an advocate who was found guilty of contempt by the Madras high court and was sentenced to undergo two weeks of simple imprisonment, observed that making allegations against judges is rampant in Uttar Pradesh and now it is happening in Bombay and Madras also.
The top court said the conduct of the appellant was 'thoroughly contemptuous' and besides levelling wanton allegations against the single judge of the high court who had issued a non-bailable warrant against him, the recusal of one of the judges hearing the proceedings thereafter was sought on thoroughly improper grounds.
“Now, this is becoming unfortunately a new fashion of making allegations against judges. The stronger the judge, the greater the allegations against the judge. This is happening now in Bombay. Of course, it is rampant in Uttar Pradesh, now Madras,” a vacation bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Bela M Trivedi said.
“Let a strong message go,” said the bench, adding that judges are assaulted across the country and in the district judiciary, sometimes not even a lathi (stick) wielding policeman is there for their protection.
While refusing to interfere with the high court's March order this year, which had also directed that the advocate shall not practise before it for a period of one year, the apex court observed that one can annoy the court but cannot level wanton allegation like this when the process of the court is sought to be served.
The bench said after the single judge had issued an NBW against the advocate and the police went to serve him when he was there at a tea shop near the high court, hundreds of lawyers lay upon the police and prevented the NBW from being served.
It said CCTV footage of the incident was also there and to compound it further, when the matter was heard by the court, the advocate had made allegations against the single judge who had issued the NBW against him.
The counsel appearing for the appellant said the advocate has tendered an unconditional apology.
The bench observed that the appellant belongs to a class of lawyers who are “absolutely incorrigible” and there is a blot on the legal profession.
It said this is the only way to deal with these kinds of people and a two-week sentence is actually very lenient.
The appellant's counsel said that in the appeal, they have not raised any ground but tendered unconditional apology and the conduct of the appellant may be monitored by the high court.
“Let him exercise some remorse. There will be some remorse when he goes to jail for two weeks and when he is barred for a year from practising,” the bench said.
The appellant's counsel urged the bench to give him one opportunity and he has tendered an apology also.
“The behaviour and conduct of the appellant was thoroughly contemptuous. There was a clear attempt to obstruct the process of justice when the NBW was sought to be served on him by the competent police officials,” the bench said.
“That apart, wanton allegations have been levelled against the single judge of the Madras high court who issued the NBW and a recusal was sought even of one of the judges hearing the proceedings thereafter on thoroughly improper grounds,” it said, adding the finding on contempt as well as the sentence, cannot be regarded as disproportionate.
When the counsel requested the bench not to record some lines which the bench had dictated in the order, the top court said it is dealing with a criminal appeal and it has to apply its mind.
“Otherwise, we will not be doing justice to our jurisdiction,” the bench observed.
“Lawyers are also subject to the process of law. We are all citizens of the State,” it said.
In its order, the high court had noted that two persons had initiated insolvency proceedings under sections 9 to 13 of the Presidency Towns Insolvency Act 1909, against the advocate and the matter was being heard by a single judge bench.
It had noted that the single judge had issued an NBW against the lawyer and when the warrant was sought to be executed by the police, the cops were prevented from executing it.
Later, the high court had seen the footage of the incident and said that a prima facie case of contempt was made out for obstructing the police officials from executing the orders of the court.