Bombay High Court recently expressed strong displeasure over an Advocate's conduct trying to get alterations in a judicial order through court staff.
"It is conduct unbecoming and we express our grave displeasure at this attempt to change a judicial order pronounced in open court, and to do so without a hearing in court and without notice to the other side" the court said after the Private Secretary (PS) who had taken dictation in court informed that petitioner's advocate had requested to make certain alterations in the order.
Accordingly, a hearing was scheduled on account of this "unfortunate and regrettable situation".
The court directed its Registry to issue, if thought fit, appropriate instructions to all secretarial staff about entertaining requests from advocates and litigants.
On August 4, a division bench of Justices G.S. Patel & Gauri Godse had allowed Siddhi Real Estate Developers to withdraw its petition without going into merits of the case. The petitioner through Advocate Sachin Tigde had pleaded that they be allowed to deposit only 50% of their electricity bill.
After the court expressed its reservations on granting this concession, the petitioner requested to withdraw the petition and sought liberty to seek relief under Section 56 of the Electricity Act, 2003. The court had made no observations on the merits of the case in its order granting the request and the liberty.
"Since the petition was withdrawn, there was no occasion to make any observation regarding the 50% deposit submission", the court stated.
On the evening of August 4, it was reported to Justice Patel that Tigde approached the PS who had taken dictation in court and asked him to include a direction for a 50% deposit in the order. The PS refused and sought directions from the senior staff of Justice Patel. Justice Patel instructed that the matter be listed for August 5 and no change was to be made in the order dictated in open court.
When asked why he went to the PS, Tigde apologised and claimed that he merely sought a clarification on the order. The court didn't accept this claim stating that such a clarification can only be sought from court on an application, not from the secretarial staff.
"The order was pronounced in open court and, whatever else may be said about us, no one has yet said we are inaudible. If anything, quite the reverse. Especially with an amplification system in place", the court added.
The court noted that the respondent would have been severely prejudiced if Tigde had succeeded in getting the order to be changed and the Private Secretary might have lost his job.
Reprimanding Tigde for this, the court stated, "He would do well to know from now on and for the rest of his time at the bar, that while he owes a duty to his client, he is first and foremost an officer of the Court and his primary duty is to the Court".
The court didn't take any strict action against Tigde but put him on notice that he will face the "full brunt of law" if there is a single instance in the future.
Case no. – Writ Petition No. 9425 of 2022
Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (Bom) 295
Case Title – Siddhi Real Estate Developers v. State of Maharashtra & Anr
Coram – Justice G.S. Patel & Justice Gauri Godse