"The Full Court is convinced and firmly believes that the apology tendered by Mr. Oza at the earlier in point of time and the apology tendered today is completely lacking in bonafides and is no more than a paper apology," resolved the Full Court of the Gujarat High Court in a meeting held on August 23.
The Full Court has decided to reject Advocate Yatin Oza's apology, forthcoming in the backdrop of initiation of contempt proceedings against him and after stripping of his senior designation, as his words have caused "irreparable damage" to the Judicial Institution.
"Why does Mr. Oza always expect the High Court to show magnanimity and pardon him for his misconducts? Why cannot Mr. Oza exercise restraint and behave in a manner befitting a designated Senior Counsel? A very well articulated and conscious attack mounted on the Institution and that too for no good cause or reason, should not be overlooked, pardoned or ignored. If such an attack is not dealt with firmly, it will affect the honour and prestige of the highest Court of the State," the Full Court said.
During a live conference on Facebook last month, attended by various journalists, Oza alleged that the HC registry was following corrupt practises, and that the cases of only the rich and powerful were being listed and heard.
Taking strong exception to such "irresponsible, sensational and intemperate" remarks, the HC had taken contempt proceedings against him observing that Oza had, with frivolous grounds and unverified facts, targeted the HC Registry and had questioned the very credibility of High Court Administration.
He had challenged the contempt proceedings before the Supreme Court, which refused to interfere in the matter.
During the pendency of contempt proceedings, the Full Court of the Gujarat High Court decided to review and recall the decision taken on October 25, 1999 to designate Oza as Senior Advocate. The decision was taken under Rule 26 of the High Court of Gujarat (Designation of Senior Advocates) Rules 2018.
Assailing this decision, Oza had moved the Top Court, seeking that the Full Court notification taking away his designation be set aside and Rule 26 of the HC Rules be declared as ultra vires.
Before the Supreme Court, Oza offered to make an unconditional apology to the HC for his remarks against it. Taking note of this, the Supreme Court deferred the hearing of his petition challenging the HC decision for two weeks, expressing the hope that the High Court will consider Oza's representation in the meantime.
On August 10, 2020, Oza tendered an unconditional apology before the High Court pursuant to which, the High Court decided to provide him an opportunity of hearing.
On consideration of totality of the facts and circumstances however, the High Court has now rejected Oza's "so-called" unqualified apology stating that the "remorse expressed is a tool to escape the Consequences of his misconduct".
"The so-called unqualified unequivocal apology is a clever and disguised attempt to refurbish his image and get out of a tight situation by expressing a few words of regret for his conduct and repeatedly try to blame the so-called circumstances which led to it," the Full Court remarked.
The Court said that it accepts the apology of Mr. Oza, it would be a failure on the part of the High Court to perform one of its "essential duties solemnly entrusted to it by the Constitution and the people."
The Court observed that the remarks made by Mr. Oza during his Live Session were not aberrations in the "heat of moment", nor were they "emotional outbursts".
"The press conference was planned 30 hours in advance An open invitation was advanced to all the lawyers to attend the same. Invitations were extended to the print and electronic media. A live telecast of the same was planned and executed. The contents of the press conference, to a large extent was published well in advance through different media platforms. Conscious and deliberated statements were made during the press conference, expressing readiness to face contempt proceedings if initiated against him," the Full Court observed.