The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has held advocate Satish Uke guilty of criminal contempt and directed him to forfeit Rs.1 lakh of the Rs 2 lakh he had deposited as security with its registry, along with charges for video recording of proceedings in the court.
The bench of Justice Prasanna Varale and Justice ZA Haq was hearing a suo-motu criminal contempt petition against Uke. In the morning session, the bench was informed that in an order dated June 6, 2016, while hearing a civil revision application, Justice RK Deshpande had noted: “There is a definite, deliberate, motivated and calculated attempt on part of Satish Mahadeorao Uke, which is discernible to bring down the image of the judiciary in the estimation of the public or to impair the administration of justice or tend to bring the administration of Justice into disrepute. There is definite act of browbeating the court and if such attempt remains unsuccessful, to raise a false and concocted plea of recusal by the judge hearing the matter.”
Justice Deshpande had then proceeded to frame charges against Uke.
Firstly, he was charged with abusing the process by initiating vexatious and frivolous proceedings against sitting judges of the court, other lawyers and judicial officers. He was charged with leveling wild, unfounded and unwarranted allegations against them.
The court had issued a notice to Uke asking him why proceedings of criminal contempt should not be initiated against him.
Uke then sought two weeks’ time to file a review application. Time was granted but the court directed him to deposit Rs.2 lakh as security with the registry.
Uke failed to comply with these directions.
Further time was granted by the court to comply with, but the matter was listed several times and got adjourned.
The court also noted that Uke did not file any detailed reply before them and chose not to answer the charges framed against him.
Until recently, Uke continued to appear in person. Then on February 23, Advocate CJ Joveson argued for Uke.
On Monday, the bench was informed at 3 pm that some application filed by Uke was before the Chief Justice. Following this, the application was kept at 4 pm by the bench.
The bench then decided to proceed with the matter as there was no order passed by the Chief Justice.
The court then observed that Uke had chosen not to respond to charges framed, but the charges were framed “based on documentary evidence on record”.
Thereafter, Satish Uke was held guilty of criminal contempt by the division bench.
Uke continued to remain absent on Tuesday and his advocate expressed his inability to argue the matter on merits.
Finally, the bench sentenced Uke to two-month simple imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs. 2,000, noting that he is liable to maximum punishment however, considerations were given to Uke’s age and his first-time punishment.
Also, he has been directed to forfeit half of the Rs.2 lakh that was deposited as security. Rest of the money will be utilised to pay for the video recordings that were instituted at the insistence of the contemnor.
In an order dated February 1, Uke was restrained from filing any complaint or application against any sitting judge, advocate or court staff. This restraint has been continued, however, Uke may file an application before the register seeking leave.
Read the Judgment here.