Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Supreme Court decries attempts to malign reputation of judiciary

The tendency to malign the reputation of judicial officers by disgruntled elements, including lawyers who fail to secure the desired order, is increasing and it is high time it is nipped in the bud, the Supreme Court has said.
A Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and B.S. Chauhan said: “And, when a member of the profession resorts to such cheap gimmicks with a view to browbeating the judge into submission, it is all the more painful.”
Writing the judgment, Justice Sathasivam said, “A lawyer cannot be a mere mouthpiece of his client and cannot associate himself with his client in maligning the reputation of judicial officer merely because his client failed to secure the desired order from the said officer. A deliberate attempt to scandalise the court would shake the confidence of the litigating public in the system and would cause a very serious damage to the name of the judiciary.”
The Bench said: “Many members of the Bench are drawn from the Bar and their past association is a source of inspiration and pride to them. It ought to be a matter of equal pride to the Bar. It is unquestionably true that courtesy breeds courtesy, and just as charity has to begin at home, courtesy must begin with the Judge.
“A discourteous Judge is like an ill-tuned instrument in the setting of a courtroom. But members of the Bar will do well to remember that such flagrant violations of professional ethics and cultured conduct will only result in the ultimate destruction of a system, without which no democracy can survive.”
In the instant appeal, appellants O.P. Sharma and a group of lawyers were convicted and sentenced to undergo simple imprisonment for periods ranging from three to six months in relation to an incident that took place in September 1999 in a Magistrate court in Faridabad, Haryana, where they used derogatory and unparliamentary words and abused the Magistrate for remanding an accused to custody without granting bail.
On a report from the Magistrate, the Punjab and Haryana High Court took suo motu action against the advocates and imposed the punishment of contempt of court. The present appeals are directed against this judgment. On their behalf, senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani appeared and requested the court to allow the appeals after accepting an apology tendered by them.
Disposing of the appeals, the Bench said, “The role and status of lawyers at the beginning of sovereign and democratic India is accounted as extremely vital in deciding that the nation's administration was to be governed by the Rule of Law. They were considered intellectuals amongst the elites of the country and social activists amongst the downtrodden. These include the names of a galaxy of lawyers like Mahatma Gandhi, Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Bhulabhai Desai, C. Rajagopalachari, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, to name a few. The role of lawyers in the framing of the Constitution needs no special mention. In a profession with such a vivid history, it is regretful, to say the least, to witness instances of the nature of the present kind.”
Accepting the apology as an exception and discharging the appellants from contempt, the Bench said: “A court, be that of a magistrate or the Supreme Court is sacrosanct. The integrity and sanctity of an institution, which has bestowed upon itself the responsibility of dispensing justice, is ought to be maintained. As a rule, an advocate being a member of the legal profession has a social duty to show the people a beacon of light by his conduct and actions rather than being adamant on an unwarranted and uncalled for issue.”

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