The Supreme Court, on Monday, suspended the jail term awarded to an Allahabad High Court lawyer, who had been held guilty in criminal contempt for making allegations against several High Court Judges.
The Bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Navin Sinha, however, clarified that the restrain imposed on Advocate Asok Pande from entering the High Court premises for a period of 2 years would remain in force.
Mr. Pande was, in August this year, awarded imprisonment of three months, along with a fine of Rs. 2,000. He had initially been issued a contempt notice after he cast aspersions on Justice A.P. Sahi for an interim order passed by him on a Petition filed by Mr. Pande's daughter. Thereafter, Mr. Pande had also challenged the authority of the Chief Justice of the High Court for nominating the Bench for hearing the contempt proceedings initiated against him.
The judgment rendered by the High Court had recounted various instances wherein Mr. Pande had "made serious allegations on the conduct of Judges of this Court in one or other way".
The Court had observed that leveling of imputations of partiality or bias against presiding Judicial officers in open Court undoubtedly comes within the ambit of contempt. Mr. Pande, it had opined, had "crossed all boundaries of recklessness and indulged in wild accusations".
The Court had also lamented the recent tendency of lawyers casting aspersions on Judges hearing their cases. It noted that the Judges have no platform to clear the allegations made against them and observed, "It is a situation where an honest Judge, working bona fide and wholesome integrity, sometimes due to his strict adherence to Rule of Law and unquestionable integrity, suffers, in the hands of naive and mischievous parties or sometime scrupulous advocates who show more sincerity to their clients instead of devotion to Court, of which they are officers."
The Bench comprising Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Justice Ravindra Nath Mishra-II had then ruled, "The utterances, conduct and attitude of Contemnor from what we have stated and reproduced is writ large. Despite repeated opportunity Contemnor did not avail opportunity to file any reply to the charge. In these facts and circumstances and also looking to entire facts we are satisfied that the charge leveled against Contemnor is true, well fortified and hence stand proved. In our view, it clearly constitute a "criminal contempt" defined under Section 2(c) of Act, 1971 and punishable thereunder."