Friday, January 20, 2012

Gujarat HC Drops Contempt Proceedings As Its Registry Didn’t Follow Procedure

The Gujarat high court on Friday lost its own case against a lawyer charged with contempt of court because HC failed to follow the procedure laid down.
While dropping the suo-motu contempt proceedings against the lawyer, the bench of acting chief justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and justice J B Pardiwala observed, “It is bit disturbing to discharge the notice due to a serious lapse in strictly following the procedure as laid down under the Act and the Rules.” The high court registry, while issuing the notice to the lawyer in regards with suo-motu contempt proceedings, failed to follow The Contempt of Courts (Gujarat high court) Rules, 1984.
Expressing serious concern about the lapse, the bench further observed, “This is an eye-opener for the registry of this high court to ensure that henceforth any notice issued by the high court, be it on its own motion or otherwise, has to be in model Form No.I and all other rules governing the procedure should be scrupulously followed and observed.”
As per case details, on September 29, 2005, a practicing lawyer Nandlal Thakkar was arguing a case before justice K S Jhaveri. During the course of hearing a heated exchange of words between the lawyer and the judge ensued. The lawyer got angry with the judge and said, “This is not the manner to conduct a matter. You have pre-determined in your mind that you will dismiss all my matters. This is because when you were practicing as an advocate you had personal grudge against me... What do you think about yourself.”
The judge considered the allegations as contempt of the court and instituted the proceeding. Later a division bench took up the case on suo motu cognizance as per the procedure. When the case was argued earlier this month, the lawyer defended himself on several grounds. HC dismissed other reasons, but agreed with the lawyer on the technical aspect. That the issuance of notice was a violation of section 15, clause 3 of the Act and Rule 13 of the contempt of court laws.
HC concluded that in such proceedings, the rule says that every notice issued by HC in a suo-motu proceeding has to be drawn “as far as may be, in the model form, Form No.I, annexed to the Rules”. But HC failed to do so in this case and since fresh action cannot be taken after lapse of one year, the bench had to rule in favour of the lawyer.

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