17-time President of the Gujarat High Court Advocates' Association, Senior Advocate Yatin Oza has tendered his resignation letter to the Secretary General of the Association, following differences among the Office bearers of the Association regarding re-opening of the courts for physical hearing.
Last week, the GHCAA had held a Referendum for ascertaining whether the Members of the Bar wished for physical functioning of the court or virtual functioning of the court. In this referendum 800 members participated and almost 64% of the Members of the Bar expressed their desire that the court should function physically, while 36% expressed their desire for the virtual functioning of the court.
Accordingly, the Association had requested the Chief Justice to re-open courts for physical hearings, while also citing severe hardships being faced by the lawyers.
As revealed by Oza's letter of resignation, when the office bearers of the Association were called by the Bench for a discussion regarding feasibility of resuming physical appearances, General Secretary Prithviraj Jadeja acted against the mandate of the Bar.
Oza stated that had it not been for the General Secretary, who opposed the proposal to re-open courts "tooth and nail", he would have convinced the Chief Justice and Justices RM Chhaya and JB Pardiwala otherwise.
Taking exception to this conduct of the General Secretary the letter states,
"Until the Referendum was held, every elected member had an absolute right to put forward his/her views but once the Referendum is held and the result is out, still to represent their own views, is unpardonable and betrayal of faith of electorate in the elected person. In my opinion, therefore, none of us have any right to open our mouth taking a contrary stand than the one expressed by the majority. This is a cardinal principle of democracy."
He pointed out that both the Vice President and the Joint Secretary of the Association also opposed the matter of entry of advocates to attend their chambers, "notwithstanding that there is a loud demand from the advocates that at least advocates may be permitted to operate through their chamber."
Through his letter, Oza has also called out underlying "favouritism and nepotism" in the matter of circulation of matters. He highlighted that while some Advocates were struggling to get their matter listed since over a month, there were few others whose matters were being heard in a jiffy.
"What shocked my conscience is the information supplied by Mr. Dipen Dave, former Chairman of Bar Council of Gujarat. He drew my attention to 50 matters of 10 advocates whose matters were circulated in two days time. I have got it cross checked and verified and there was 100% truth in Mr. Dave's information."
In these circumstances, Oza has tendered his resignation and he seeks a fresh mandate on the issue as to "whether the court should function physical or virtual'.
"I have decided to resign from the post of President, which I hereby do. I will seek a fresh mandate only on one issue, 'as to whether the court should function physical or virtual'. I will never betray the faith and confidence of my electorate, when 64% members of the bar want physical functioning of the court," the letter states.
In this context he has requested the Managing Committee of the Association to hold the election within two weeks.
"I have resigned on one issue and I am seeking a fresh mandate of the Bar, my request to the Managing Committee is to hold the election in two weeks time before the burning issue gets over. The voters list is ready. You can call for the nominations by way of e-mail and send link to every voter to vote according to their conscience by way of E-mail as per the last voter list. Otherwise, the whole purpose would be frustrated. Any way, it is only a suggestion, it is for the acting President and the Managing Committee to decide," the letter read.
He has further stated that in case he is re-elected, the office bearers who opposed the mandate of the Bar should ideally resign.
"If my message in the Managing Committee group is read in letter and spirit, it would mean that if I get elected, then both, i.e. the Vice President and the Joint Secretary will have to resign because after the mandate of the Bar, they have continued with their contrary stand," he said.
Oza also sympathized with the hundreds of lawyers who had ventilated their grievances before him and expressed his regret for having "failed to wipe out their miseries."
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