Criminal contempt notice against GHCAA President Yatin Oza for accusing Gujarat HC of corruption in FB presser, calling it a “Gambling Den”
– Vijpreet Pal
The Gujarat High Court has issued a suo moto criminal contempt notice to the President of the Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association (GHCAA) Yatin Oza in view of making “scurrilous remarks” against High Court and its registry, during a live conference on Facebook. During his live conference Oza leveled the following accusations against the High Court and its registry:
- Corrupt practices are being adopted by the Registry of the High Court of Gujarat;
- Undue favor is shown to high-profile industrialists and smugglers and traitors;
- The High Court functioning is for influential and rich people and their advocates;
- The billionaires walk away with orders from the High Court in two days whereas the poor and non-VIPs need to suffer;
- If the litigants want to file any matter in the High Court, the person has to be either Mr. Khambhata or the builder or the company.
This also was circulated in Gujarati daily Sandesh titled as ‘Gujarat High Court has become a gambling den’. He has questioned the very credibility of High Court Administration by highlighting that while some advocates were struggling to get their matter listed since over a month, there were few others whose matter were being heard and were obtaining contemplated orders and raising fingers at some of the Honourable Judges indirectly with scandalous remarks.
The bench comprised of Justice Sonia Gokani and Justice NV Anjaria observed, that these “scurrilous remarks appear to have been made without any substantive basis and without any intent to know the truth as also without approaching the Honourable the Chief Justice for any inquiry as to the Head of the Institution.” “As the Bar President has by his scandalous expressions and indiscriminate as well as baseless utterances have attempted to cause serious damage to the prestige and majesty of the High Court and thereby of an independent judiciary as also attempted to lower the image of entire Administration and also created demoralizing effect amongst the Administrative wing, this court in the exercise of powers conferred under Article 215 of the Constitution of India, prima facie finds him responsible for committing the criminal contempt of this Court within the meaning of Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act and takes cognizance of such criminal contempt against him under Section 15 of the said Act.”
The Court was of the opinion that Oza had behaved in the most reckless manner by leveling false, irresponsible, intemperate and contemptuous allegations of corruption, malpractices against the administration of the High Court, which also included categorical allegations of forum shopping which the Court asserted was without any valid or true basis.
Furthermore, the court was of the opinion that it was not the time where the bar and the bench could afford to divert their energy in any kind of bickering and are duty-bound to work together and discharge their responsibilities in a positive atmosphere.
In passing the order, the Division Bench also noted that Oza had already faced criminal contempt proceedings before the Supreme Court henceforth the court had to close the contempt proceedings hoping that the regret, the apology, and repentance shall see the Oza in a different incarnation. Though the High Court noted, “We are at pain to note that nothing changed”.
The Court has also decided to look into whether Oza should be stripped of his designation as a Senior Advocate. To this, the order states, “We also deem it appropriate to place before the Chief Justice for consideration at the hands of the full Court whether to divest the stature of the respondent under contempt, of the designation of a senior Counsel under the circumstances.”
Oza has been demanding since long for the normal functioning of courts and he has written to the High Court chief justice that it is illogical to confine the hearing only to urgent matters. Therein, because of the conflict with the Officials of the Association, he resigned from his post of President and sought a mandate, ‘whether the court should function physical or virtual’. Although Oza had to withdraw his resignation for the post of GHCAA President as the Managing Committee of the GHCAA unanimously rejected his resignation.