A bench headed by Justice AS Oka has passed a judgment dated August 29, accepting the unconditional apology of the Maharashtra government in the matter relating to noise pollution rules.
On August 28, the state government had withdrawn allegations made against Justice Oka in a precipe dated August 24 and tendered an unconditional apology to Justice Oka, the Chief Justice as well as the institution of the Bombay High Court.
On Monday, when the court asked the Advocate General to inform them about the name of the authority on whose instructions the allegations of bias were made, an affidavit was filed by Vijay Patil, Deputy Secretary.
The court noted how the allegations of bias have been attributed to the entire state government and not the real decision-making authority.
Justice Oka noted:
“The allegations of bias were completely unfounded and without any basis and the same were not at all supported even by an affidavit by some officer. Now within a span of 3 to 4 days, the allegations of bias are being unconditionally withdrawn. Yesterday, we had informed the learned Advocate General that what was more worrying was the allegations and the manner in which these allegations were made in the praecipe which adversely affected the reputation of the Institution like Bombay High Court.”
However, the court decided not to initiate contempt proceedings against officers of the state for more than one reason even though the court said they were responsible for committing a criminal contempt as making of such allegations and the manner in which the same were made amount to criminal contempt.
Justice Oka then quoted Lord Denning, who expressed an opinion in the case of Regina v. Metropolitan Police Commissioner ex. p. Blackburn, which reads thus-
“Let me say at once that we will never use this jurisdiction as a means to uphold our own dignity. That must rest on surer foundations.
We must note here that with great deal of emphasis the dignity of this august Institution rests on surer foundations. The second reason why we are not initiating the action for criminal contempt is obviously the unconditional withdrawal of allegations made against one of us (AS Oka J) and tender of an unconditional apology within few days from the date on which the allegations of bias were made. Yesterday, we made it very clear that we are not at all touchy about the allegations made against one of us (AS Oka J). The anguish expressed by us yesterday was due to the impact of such reckless and scandalous allegations made against an individual Judge on the entire institution of the Bombay High Court.”
The bench also noted Senior Counsel AV Anturkar’s submission that considering all the developments of the case it can be said that the signal has already gone loud and clear and since the judges hold a constitutional office, the court said: “We are expected to show mercy and magnanimity. Therefore, we are showing mercy by accepting the unconditional apology.”
Thus, apology was accepted and the matter will now be listed for compliance under the caption of directions on Sept.7.