The Maharashtra government on Monday apologised to Justice AS Oka and withdrew its earlier application filed before the Chief Justice wherein it was stated that Justice Oka was “harbouring serious bias against the state machinery in the noise pollution matter” and transfer of all noise pollution matters to a different bench was sought.
Advocate General AA Kumbhakoni placed the letter tendering an unqualified apology to Justice Oka before the full bench of Justice AS Oka, Justice Anoop Mohta and Justice Riyaz Chagla in the day.
Justice Oka did not hold back in any manner and proceeded to admonish the state for its actions in this matter.
He observed: “Your apology is not bona fide. You should first apologise to the Chief Justice for misleading her by not showing our order. You have taken this 155-year-old institution for a ride.You [State] should get a loud and clear signal that you cannot play with this August institution. We trust the Advocate General, but the Maharashtra Government does not trust the Bombay High Court.”
In his order dated August 24, Justice Oka had noted facts of the case expressing shock at the state’s allegation of bias against him and directed the Registrar to place the order before the Chief Justice. But the order was never placed before her and the application for transfer was allowed without giving the petitioners a hearing.
Members of the bar, senior counsels, former judges, all stood by Justice Oka and denounced the state’s stand. Following this, the letter withdrawing state’s earlier application was placed before the court. The said letter submitted on behalf the government shows how it walked back on its earlier claim, as it stated: “The said contention was NOT raised against the Hon’ble Judge personally but was limited specifically and limited only to the subject matter involved in the aforesaid group of matters. The State itself holds the said Hon’ble judge individually with pride in the highest esteem and has the highest regards and respect for him.
However, unfortunately it appears that the said intention of the State Government has been widely misunderstood and misinterpreted and it is being projected as if the State Government is against the judiciary in general, which the State government never intended.”
Bombay Bar Association Condemns CJ’s Decision To Transfer
In its resolution passed at 2:30 pm on Monday, the Bombay Bar Association condemned the state government and the Advocate General for their actions. More importantly, the resolution stated:“The Bombay Bar Association strongly condemns and deprecates the action of the Hon’ble Chief Justice in withdrawing a part heard matter from a Judge of this Court on the reckless, baseless & unwanted allegation of bias against the Judge concerned.
The Bombay Bar Association expresses full faith and confidence in the objectivity, impartiality and integrity of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Abhay S. Oka and strongly condemns and deprecates attempts to cast aspersions on the same by the State Government.”
The noise pollution petitions will come up for hearing before the full bench at 12:30 pm on Tuesday.