The Gujarat High Court has taken away the senior designation of Advocate Yatin Oza, who happens to be the President of Gujarat High Court Advocates Association.
The Court had earlier initiated contempt proceedings against him over his remarks against judges in a Facebook live video.
The Full Court meeting held on July 18 decided to review and recall the decision taken on October 25, 1999 to designate Oza as Senior Advocate.
The Court has cited Rule 26 of the High Court of Gujarat (Designation of Senior Advocates) Rules 2018, which states "In the event a Senior Advocate is found guilty of conduct which according to the Full Court disentitles the Senior Advocate concerned to be worthy of the designation, the Full Court may review its decision to designate the person concerned and recall the same".
Responding to the development, Oza told LiveLaw that he will challenge the decision in Court.
"I will fight it in Court", he said.
During a live conference on Facebook last month, attended by various journalists, Oza levelled the following allegations against the High Court and its Registry:
- corrupt practices being adopted by the registry of the High Court of Gujarat;
- undue favour is shown to high-profile industrialist and smugglers and traitors;
- The High Court functioning is for influential and rich people and their advocates;
- The billionaires walk away with order from the High Court in two days whereas the poor and non VIPs need to suffer;
- If the litigants want to file any matter in the High Court person has to be either Mr Khambhata or the builder or the company
Taking strong exception to such "irresponsible, sensational and intemperate" remarks, the bench observed that Oza had, with frivolous grounds and unverified facts, targeted the HC Registry and had questioned the very credibility of High Court Administration.
Taking suo moto cognizance of the incident, the bench comprised by Justice Sonia Gokani and Justice NV Anjaria observed,
"As the Bar President has by his scandalous expressions and indiscriminate as well as baseless utterances has attempted to cause serious damage to the prestige and majesty of the High Court and thereby of independent judiciary as also attempted to lower the image of entire Administration and also created demoralising effect amongst the Administrative wing, this court in exercise of powers conferred under Article 215 of the Constitution of India, prima facie finds him responsible for committing the criminal contempt of this Court within the meaning of Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act and takes cognizance of such criminal contempt against him under Section 15 of the said Act."
Though Oza had approached the Supreme Court against the contempt notice, the SC refused to entertain the plea, and asked him to agitate the matter in the High Court itself.
Oza, as the GHCAA President, had earlier voiced strong protest against the transfer of Justice Akil Kureshi from Gujarat HC to Bombay HC by terming it "unwarranted, uncalled for and unjust"
The Association under his leadership had also approached the Supreme Court against the Centre's delay to act on the SC Collegium's recommendation to elevate Justice Kureshi as the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court.
In June, he had tendered his resignation as the GHCAA President following differences among the Office bearers of the Association regarding re-opening of the courts for physical hearing. Oza had addressed a letter to Chief Justice Vikram Nath, urging him to let the High Court function "full fledgedly" via video conferencing and allow all matters to be heard.
Later, he withdrew his resignation, following request by several members.