28 July 2023 1:28 PM GMT
The Delhi High Court on Friday discharged 12 lawyers, including former Delhi High Court Bar Association President Rajiv Khosla and former Delhi Bar Association President Sanjeev Nasiar, in a suo motu criminal contempt case in connection with the violence at the Tis Hazari Court in 2006. A full bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul, Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar and Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta...
The Delhi High Court on Friday discharged 12 lawyers, including former Delhi High Court Bar Association President Rajiv Khosla and former Delhi Bar Association President Sanjeev Nasiar, in a suo motu criminal contempt case in connection with the violence at the Tis Hazari Court in 2006.
A full bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul, Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar and Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta observed that there was no substantial evidence to establish obstruction of justice, acts of manhandling, or destruction of property by the lawyers.
Therefore, it cannot be conclusively established that the act of protesting interfered with the administration of justice, the court said.
Noting that the contempt proceedings were pending since 2006 and “Sword of Damocles” had been hanging for the past 17 years on the lawyers, the bench said that all the alleged contemnors have expressed their deep remorse and stated that they have utmost respect for judiciary.
It added that it was never the lawyers’ intention to do anything that could be construed as undermining the majesty and dignity of the court.
The lawyers were agitating in January 2006 against the shifting of cases to Rohini Court. They allegedly hurled chairs, uprooted computer monitors and indulged in rioting in the court complex.
Later, the High Court’s full court took note of a district judge’s report. An FIR was then lodged against the lawyers on the complaint of the district judge for the offences of rioting and unlawful assembly.
While the contempt proceedings were initiated against 25 lawyers, 13 of them were discharged earlier.
“…we discharge the Show Cause Notices issued to the remaining alleged Contemnors/Respondents in the present criminal contempt proceedings. Resultantly, the notice to show cause as to why criminal contempt be not drawn against the alleged Contemnors/Respondents, are hereby discharged,” the bench said while closing the suo motu proceedings.
The bench said that legal practitioners are the vanguard safeguarding the sanctity of the Constitution of India and necessitate protection in the capacity of whistleblowers within the court, more than anything else.
“Contempt of Court serves to shield the institution and prevent unwarranted interference in the administration of justice. Diluting the dignity of the institution or undermining the authority vested in the judiciary constitutes a crucial aspect and such actions surpass the limits of legitimate criticism of a judicial decision and venture into an entirely different realm,” the court said.
It added that while permissible criticism of a judgment is acceptable, there exists a boundary beyond when it transforms into abusive, irrational, and personally targeted attacks on judges, thereby compromising the overall integrity of the institution.
“A careful perusal of the video footage affirms that there is no evidence linking the damage caused to the court rooms with the protest by the Advocates/alleged Contemnors. Moreover, these actions cannot be directly attributed to the alleged Contemnors. Consequently, the material including the subject videos fail to provide any direct evidence connecting the damage allegedly caused to court rooms with the Advocates' protest,” the court said.
While disposing of the matter, the court expressed its deepest gratitude to Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra who was the amicus curiae in the matter.
Title: RE: TO CONSIDER SUO MOTU CONTEMPT OF COURT v. PROCEEDINGS AGAINST THE TIS HAZARI COURT LAWYERS
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 637
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