3 March 2022 12:07 PM GMT
The Delhi High Court on Thursday called for a report from the Principal District Judge (headquarters) in relation to the sentencing proceedings of Former Delhi High Court Bar Association President Rajiv Khosla, for assaulting former judge namely Sujata Kohli in the year 1994 when she was a lawyer. A bench comprising of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta was dealing with...
The Delhi High Court on Thursday called for a report from the Principal District Judge (headquarters) in relation to the sentencing proceedings of Former Delhi High Court Bar Association President Rajiv Khosla, for assaulting former judge namely Sujata Kohli in the year 1994 when she was a lawyer.
A bench comprising of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta was dealing with a criminal contempt plea filed by Kohli against Khosla. Petitioner Sujata Kohli, who was a practicing lawyer earlier, became a judge in the Delhi judiciary and retired as District and Sessions Judge.
During the course of hearing today, Kohli informed the Court that there were two district judges present on the dias when the concerned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate was conducting the proceedings.
"It is unusual for other judicial officers to remain present on dias when judicial proceedings are ongoing," the Court remarked at the outset.
The Court therefore considered it necessary to call for the records of the trial court, including the record of video conferencing/hybrid proceedings of the matter conducted on 27th and 30th November, 2021 as well as CCTV footage of the even dates, both within and outside the courtroom.
The Bench also ordered thus:
"We also consider it appropriate to call for the report from the concerned principal district judge headquarters in relation to the above mentioned proceedings in view of the averments made in the present contempt petition. Let the copy of the present petition be transmitted to the principal district judge headquarters along with the copy of directions issued by this court today forthwith. List the matter for further proceedings after two weeks."
Accordingly, the Court listed the matter for further proceedings on March 24.
Kohli has alleged that Khosla has, by a series of acts & words, directly interfered with administration of justice, interfered with the due process of law and scandalized the court on its face.
In her plea, Kohli has submitted that certain unfortunate series of events transpired during the hearings before the Trial Court specifically on 27th and 30th November, 2021.
It has been alleged that on 27th November, 2021, while Kohli was joined through virtual mode, she saw that the courtroom was jam-packed with slogan shouting lawyers, telling the concerned judge that he had passed the conviction judgment under Kohli's pressure who had previously been a District Judge.
Referring to the said dates, the plea avers thus:
"That, ultimately what came out on 30th Nov. 2021, just 3 days later, was a sentence, quite anticipated, in view of the circumstances/alarming situation created in the courtroom, by the convict and his supporters, on 27th November, 2021. On 30.11.2021, the pen that wrote the Sentence was clearly a pen, in the shaking/trembling hands of the CMM, and the very CMM who earlier on 29th October 2021 had fearlessly gone ahead , to convict the very same accused, with his independent and fearless mind."
The petition has been filed by Kohli under sec. 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, with the consent of Standing Counsel of the State for initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against Khosla.
About Sentencing Order
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gajender Singh Nagar had passed the sentencing order.
While passing the sentencing order, although the Court took note of the fact that Khosla despite being a member of bar and an oficer of the Court assaulted a lady bar member in the presence of a number of lawyers which was definitely an aggravating factor, it also considered the fact that he was a 65 years old man, who was never convicted in any other case till date as per record of police.
About The Controversy
The allegations against Khosla were that in July 1994, when he was the Secretary of Delhi Bar Association, he had asked Kohli to join a seminar and on her refusal, threatened her that all facilities from the Bar Association would be withdrawn and she would be dispossessed of her seat as well.
A civil suit was filed by her seeking appropriate injunction however, her table and chair were removed from its spot. It was thereafter alleged by her in the complaint that when she was sitting on a bench placed nearby her seat while waiting for visit of the Civil judge, Rajiv Khosla alongwith co-accused had came with a mob of 40-50 lawyers.
According to the complainant, they all surrounded her, and Khosla stepped forward and pulled her from her hair, twisted her arms, dragged her by hair, uttered filthy abuses and threatened her.
While the FIR was lodged by police in August 1994, the complainant had filed a complaint case on being utterly dissatisfied with the investigation in March 1995.
The Court was of the opinion that the testimony of the Kohli qua her allegation of being pulled by hair and arm by Khosla and the threat that she will not be allowed to practice from Tis Hazari Court was "absolutely truthful and creditworthy."
"Delhi Bar Association is undisputedly a very strong and formidable body of lawyers and more often, police is very slow in taking any action when it comes to lawyers. In the case in hand the accused was a prominent leader of Bar, at the relevant time he was Honorary Secretary of the DBA," the Court had said on the aspect of Police witnesses not supporting the case of the complainant.
The Court was of the view that the act of pulling someone from hair and arm would result in bodily pain and thus offence under Section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) IPC was made out as bodily pain was inflicted on the complainant.
Case Title: Sujata Kohli v. Rajiv Khosla