Friday, December 12, 2014

SC rejects Delhi lawyer’s appeal in misdemeanour case, sends strong signal against women harassment

Harassment of women particularly in court premises, the Supreme Court on Friday threw out an appeal by a lawyer against a week-long jail term in a case of misdemeanour against a woman colleague in Delhi High Court in 2012.

A bench of Justices T S Thakur and Adarsh K Goel said there was no ground to interfere with the Delhi High Court order, passed under the Contempt of Courts Act.

Lawyer Amit Chanchal Jha, 36, is accused of physically abusing a female colleague and behaving indecently during a hearing before a HC registrar on January 13, 2012.

The HC, acting suo motu, had the same day sent Jha to jail for a week and debarred him from practising in any Delhi court for three months. It also directed the Bar Council of India, the apex disciplinary authority for lawyers, to act against Jha.

Saying Jha’s actions had interfered with judicial procedure, obstructed justice and lowered the majesty of the court, the high court had convicted him of contempt of court.

Jha then appealed to the top court, and claimed his conduct did not strictly fall under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. Lalit argued that the incident took place when the two lawyers were working together and the registrar was not present.

His lawyers said the incident happened on the spur of the moment and his client regretted his behaviour. He claimed that any disciplinary action against him could come only from the Bar Council and not the court.

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