"Will Not Revisit The Merits" : Supreme Court Expresses Unwillingness To Grant More Time To Trio Convicted For 'Scurrilous& Scandalous' Remarks Against Judges

Srishti Ojha

16 July 2021 4:39 AM GMT

  • Will Not Revisit The Merits : Supreme Court Expresses Unwillingness To Grant More Time To Trio Convicted For Scurrilous& Scandalous Remarks Against Judges

    Supreme Court has on Thursday expressed its unwillingness to extend the time for surrender, to Vijay Kurle,Nilesh Ojha and Rashid Pathan, the trio convicted for contempt for 'scurrilous& scandalous' allegations against Justices Nariman & Vineet Saran over their order sentencing Adv Mathews Nedumpara guilty of contempt.The Court will hear the matter today , along with the three...

    Supreme Court has on Thursday expressed its unwillingness to extend the time for surrender, to Vijay Kurle,Nilesh Ojha and Rashid Pathan, the trio convicted for contempt for 'scurrilous& scandalous' allegations against Justices Nariman & Vineet Saran over their order sentencing Adv Mathews Nedumpara guilty of contempt.

    The Court will hear the matter today , along with the three independent writ petitions filed by the three contemners regards their conviction, pending before the Top Court.

    While noting that the time given to these persons to surrender is to expire tomorrow, a Bench led by Justice UU Lalit directed the Registry to list the present matter along with three writ petitions filed by contemnors before the appropriate Bench tomorrow.

    The Bench while initially being inclined to dismiss the pleas and direct the three petitioners to surrender, later agreed to adjourn the hearing to tomorrow taking note of submissions made by AdvocatePartho Sarkar appearing for concerned parties that three writ petitions preferred by Vijay Kurle, Nilesh Ojha and Rashid Khan are pending before the Top Court and may have some bearing on instant matter.

    "In case litigating factors are taken into consideration, the prestige of this Court and regards for Court will go up notches if this Bench grants some time or writ petitions pending before the Court are heard. No one is running anywhere. There are 3 different independent petitions." Mr Sarkar submitted before the Court

    "Whatever you want to place keep those documents ready tomorrow." the Bench orally asked the petitioners

    During the hearing, the Bench asked the petitioners as to when the period of extension granted to them to surrender through the last order expire. The Bench was informed that their time expires today.

    "Before that Justice Nageswara Rao's Bench had also granted an extension. First it was 4 month then comes 3 months, now what's your request sir?" Justice Lalit asked

    Mr Sarkar submitted that while the case was fairly argued upon, he would like to bring few things to the notice of the Court.

    " No we are not going to revisit those issues" the Bench said.

    Mr Sarkar continued to submit that "This Indian Bar Association has been fighting against a lot of issues including forced vaccination etc. My only request is there are more than sufficient mitigating factors, my request is that the writ petition that i have filed seeking opportunity of appeal of which Mr Bhushan has made the same request…."

    The Bench responded saying that "That is a different issue altogether. Initially there was an order passed by Justice Deepak Gupta, then comes an application for recall which is considered by Justice Nageswara Rao Bench, them comes the Extension, then comes another Extension. We are not going to revisit these matters now."

    Mr Sarkar then sought an extension of 6 months. While refusing to grant any further extension, the Bench stated that "First extension was of 4 months, next of 3 months and now you are asking a larger time than those two extensions?"

    "We will dismiss the application, and will give direction to take you into custody if you don't surrender. So tell us when and where will you all surrender " the Bench said.

    Pointing out Justice Bhushan's order, Adv Nilesh Ojha, appearing as petitioner in person submitted that in this case their conviction was based on subject matter assigned by CJI, and last month office of CJI said they have closed their case on 25th March 2019.

    "These are not the matters. These are all matters where whatever has been assigned to a particular Bench continues to be before that particular Bench, unless that Bench recuses. Don't go on all that. As far as merit is concerned, all these issues have been gone into, we will not allow you to revisit that" the Bench said.

    In response to Ojha's request for extension of 4 weeks time, Justice Lalit responded saying "Not at all Sir, we will not grant you even one day. We are only asking which Authority will you surrender before"

    Referring to Rashid Khan's application, Mr Ojha submitted that in this case CJI's information says that our conviction is product of fraud, because the case was already closed by Chief Justice.

    "Show that, where does it say that it was a product of fraud" the Bench asked. Mr Ojha sought time to place the original document on record.

    "You are relying on someone else's affidavit, that affidavit may have wrongly said something. Unless and until you are able to pinpoint any formal communication, we will not go through any of these documents. We are not going to enter into these areas. Which police station will you surrender before tell us that" the Bench said.

    "You should have made your inquiries before the matter came up before court" the Bench remarked. "If the RTI reply says something perhaps that will become matter of my liberty." the petitioner Counsel said

    "We will not allow that. That will be like shooting in the dark. One doesn't know when you will make the RTI inquiry, and whether that response comes or not. So the process of court is supposed to depend on that?" the Bench said.

    The Amicus Curiae Senior Counsel Siddharth Luthra submitted that the Contemners have been filing repeated applications and have made repeated pleas. Mr Luthra further informed the Bench that Mr Nilesh Ojha's address is in Mumbai, Mr Kurle is in Thane and Mr Rashid Khan's affidavit is in Yavatmal.

    The Supreme Court had in August 2020 extended the time for surrendering for Vijay Kurle, Nilesh Ojha and Rashid Khan Pathan who it convicted for contempt. The extension of sixteen weeks was ordered by the bench comprising Justices UU Lalit and Aniruddha Bose in view of the prevailing conditions due to COVID-19 pandemic.

    In April last year, the bench comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose held Vijay Kurle (State President, Maharashtra & Goa, Indian Bar Association), Rashid Khan Pathan (National Secretary, Human Rights Security Council) & Nilesh Ojha (National President, Indian Bar Association) guilty of contempt. On 6th May, the bench sentenced them to to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of 3 months each with a fine of Rs.2000/-. The court had further observed that the sentence shall come into force after 16 weeks from the date of the order i.e. 6th May, 2020, when the contemners should surrender before the Secretary General of this Court to undergo the punishment. This is why the contemners filed an application seeking to extend the time for surrendering in view of ongoing pandemic.

    'Scurrilous and scandalous' allegations against judges: The contempt was initiated against the trio after a bench comprising Justices RF Nariman and Vineet Saran took suo moto cognizance of a letter sent by Bombay Bar Association and the Bombay Incorporated law Society. The bench observed that an attempt was made by the contemners to "terrorize and intimidate" the judges.

    The trio were held liable for 'scurrilous and scandalous' allegations against Justices R F Nariman and Vineet Saran over their order sentencing Advocate Mathews Nedumpara guilty of contempt in March 2019. "Though the alleged contemners claim that they are not expressing any solidarity with Shri Mathews Nedumpara nor do they have anything personal against Justice R.F. Nariman, the entire reading of the complaints shows a totally different picture. When we read both the complaints together it is obvious that the alleged contemners are fighting a proxy battle for Shri Nedumpara. They are raking up certain issues which could have been raised only by Shri Nedumpara and not by the alleged contemners Nedumpara", the bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha had observed.

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