On Friday, the Gujarat High Court initiated contempt proceedings against a bail applicant, after it discovered that the mystery caller who had tried to influence the Judge hearing the case, was hired by the applicant himself.
Taking a stern view of the unprecedented incident, Justice Bela M Trivedi has registered a criminal contempt case against the bail applicant, Vijay Arvindbhai Shah and the caller Alpesh Rameshbhai Patel.
"In the instant case, the applicant who is shown as the accused in connection with the FIR in question, was desirous of obtaining the order of anticipatory bail any how, has been trapped in his own net laid for trapping others," the court remarked while taking on record the whatsapp messages exchanged between the two.
As reported earlier, Justice Trivedi received a series of calls and SMS in relation to Shah's anticipatory bail application, on the date of its listing on June 22, from a person who identified himself as Niranjan Patel, MLA, Petlad.
On a preliminary inquiry made by the High Court Registrar, it was revealed that the number from which the call was made was registered in the name of one Tofikbhai Vhora. The court therefore ordered a police probe into the matter.
During investigation, the Police enquired both MLA Niranjan Patel and Tofikbhai Vhora.
MLA Patel told the police that he had family relations with the applicant however, he had never made any such call or had never asked anybody to make such call on his behalf.
Vohra on the other hand, a Xerox shop owner, revealed that though the mobile number in question was his, the said phone call was made by one Alpesh Rameshbhai Patel (as identified by the Police with the help of a CCTV camera installed in the shop's vicinity).
As recorded in the order, Alpesh made a "startling and shocking disclosure" that he was prompted to call Justice Bela and influence her, at the instance of the bail applicant himself, in exchange for money.
Alpesh disclosed that the bail applicant had asked him to use MLA Patel's name, which the court said was perhaps an attempt to either win the sympathy of the Court and get the anticipatory bail, or to have the case transferred on being prejudiced by such calls.
Court refused to allow Anticipatory Bail
"Such conduct on the part of the applicant is highly deplorable and unpardonable. The application of the applicant who has no respect for the Justice delivery system and no regards for truth cannot be entertained any further and deserves to be dismissed on that ground alone," the bench remarked and dismissed the anticipatory bail application.
In fact, the Applicant's counsels, Senior Advocate ND Nanavati and Advocate Dagli also refused to represent him and they categorically stated that they cannot defend the applicant any more, having regard to the facts and circumstances, which have come on record.
Initiation of contempt
The court observed that the "well designed but ill-motivated mission" of the applicant to get a favorable order of anticipatory bail, deserved to be served with contempt proceedings.
"From the aforestated twists and turns, which have surfaced on record, it appears that the name of Niranjanbhai Patel, MLA, Petlad was sought to be used by the applicant Vijay Shah for misleading the Court," the court said while rapping the applicant for acting de hors the due process of law.
The court said that judicial functions cannot be permitted to be obstructed by malpractices or tactics of the litigants.
"When the Justice delivery system is facing unprecedented multiple challenges at the hands of tech-savy criminals, any attempt to corrupt or to fail the Justice delivery system has to be dealt with very stringently," Justice Trivedi said and issued notices to the applicant and his aide, returnable by July 10.
Applicant had earlier denied complicity in the mysterious call
Significantly, the Court had asked the applicant if he had any knowledge of the mysterious calls, or the caller. The Court had categorically asked the applicant if he knew MLA Patel, on previous instances.
However, denying any complicity/ knowledge of the same, the Applicant had stated that MLA Patel was in fact "very much interested" to see that he is arrested.
Contrary to this, the court discovered that the applicant had in fact "used" the MLAs name to influence the court.
While he claimed innocence before the court, he cautioned the caller, Alpesh, behind the court's back.
As stated by Alpesh before the court, the Applicant called him and intimated him that since the Court had directed inquiry, he should be careful. This naturally prompted Alpesh to escape, however he was caught by the Gandhinagar police and brought before the concerned authorities.
Click Here To Download Order Dated June 25
Click Here To Download Order Dated June 26