Senior Advocate and President of Gujarat High Court Advocates' Association Yatin Oza moves the Supreme Court against the suo moto criminal contempt notice issued against him by the Gujarat High Court for making "scurrilous remarks" against the HC and its Registry during a live press conference on Facebook.
Oza has filed the petition a day after the Gujarat HC Bench comprising of Justices Sonia Gokani and NV Anjaria took suo moto cognizance of the incident, and 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." During his live conference on Facebook, attended by various journalists, Oza had levelled the following allegations against the High Court and its Registry:
The High Court took strong exception to the remarks by Oza and observed that they were "irresponsible, sensational and intemperate". They further stated that Oza had, with frivolous grounds and unverified facts, targeted the HC Registry and had questioned the very credibility of the HC Administration. "He levelled false and contemptuous allegations of corruption, malpractices against the administration of the High Court…which is working day and night against all odds, risking their lives and lives of their family members in present crisis and is also attempting to adopt to the new system of filing through emails in absence of availability of module of e filing and adjusting to remote hearing of cases." Accordingly, the Gujarat HC issued a criminal contempt notice against the Senior Advocate. Oza has long been demanding normal functioning of courts, for the benefit of Advocates. A month ago, he had written to the High Court Chief Justice stating that there is "no logic" to restrict working of courts only to hear urgent matters.
Thereafter, following differences with the Office bearers of the Association regarding re-opening of the court, he had resigned from the office of President and had sought a fresh mandate on the issue as to "whether the court should function physical or virtual'. However, he withdrew the resignation after the GHCAA passed a resolution rejecting the letter of resignation.
He had also recently addressed another letter to the CJ, asking him to call for the details from the Registry to confirm that four or five advocates have filed more than 40 to 70 matters during this lockdown and their matters have been placed not beyond three courts.