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Will Examine If Suspension Of Yatin Oza's Senior Designation Is Proportionate, Says Supreme Court

Srishti Ojha
28 July 2021 11:57 AM GMT
Will Examine If Suspension Of Yatin Ozas Senior Designation Is Proportionate, Says Supreme Court
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The Full Court of the Gujarat High Court has reiterated its earlier stand of not revoking the suspension of senior designation of Yatin Oza, the Supreme Court was told on Wednesday. Taking note of this development, the Supreme Court adjourned Yatin Oza's petition challenging the High Court's decision for hearing on merits to September 1. The Court said today that it will also examine if...

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The Full Court of the Gujarat High Court has reiterated its earlier stand of not revoking the suspension of senior designation of Yatin Oza, the Supreme Court was told on Wednesday.

Taking note of this development, the Supreme Court adjourned Yatin Oza's petition challenging the High Court's decision for hearing on merits to September 1. The Court said today that it will also examine if the punishment given to Oza is proportionate or not.

The Supreme Court had earlier inquired if the punishment of Oza could be reconsidered by the High Court.

Today,  Advocate Nikhil Goel, appearing for the Gujarat High Court, told a bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and R Subhash Reddy that pursuant to Supreme Court's suggestion, the matter was reconsidered by Full Court on June 20th but they have unanimously decided to reiterate their earlier stand.

"We had said that see if you could use tour good offices to see if something could be worked out", the bench told Advocate Goel.

Advocate Nikhil Goel responded saying that "They again held a full court meeting and unanimously reiterated what was their in earlier two full courts, except two Judges who had decided the contempt matter did not participate."

The bench recorded the submission in its order as :  "The Counsel for the High Court said that matter was reconsidered on June 20th by the Full Court and stand taken earlier has been reiterated."

On March 10, the top court had asked if the High Court can suspend the revocation of Oza's senior designation for a brief period, during which his petition in the Supreme Court will remain pending so that his conduct can be monitored. Pursuant to that on March 17th, Supreme Court was informed that the Full Court has decided to discuss the matter again in the light of the suggestions made by the SC.

During the hearing today, Senior Advocate Dr.Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Oza, submitted, "9 months plus have lapsed. This has been bigger punishment than any other punishment. To be out of town and out of practice in a city is easier, than to be in the same city of which you were a member all your life."

He added,  "What has happened has happened, nobody can turn the clock back. Your Lordships may keep this in mind and deal with date also and merit also. I don't think anyone in their right sense would not have learned a permanent lesson with this if a lesson has to be learnt. 9 months is a long time for a person with a seniority of some stature. It is more of the humiliation than the practice. I'm begging the court to keep this perspective in mind."

Senior Advocate Aryama Sundaram appearing for the Gujarat High Court Advocates Association submitted, " As a Bar, as a Body we would like to say that the punishment given so far would be sufficient".

"You are on a petition under 32. What are the grounds you are seeking intervention on, let us know clearly. Formal counter affidavit has to be filed. We will hear the matter" the bench said.

"My humble request is shortest time the Lordships can think of may be given. This is something where he's also being punished as we speak." Dr Singhvi pleaded.

"Whether the punishment is proportionate or disproportionate is an aspect we will consider. But it is not like nothing happened." Justice Kaul said.

"It is not a justification. There's no question of justifying" Dr Singhvi responded.

"We are also trying to see if something can be worked out." the bench said.

It was in July last year that the Gujarat High Court revoked the senior designation of Oza, after he made sharp remarks against the administration of Registry as the President of the High Court Bar Association. The Full Court recalled the decision taken in 1999 to confer senior designation on Oza.

Later, in October, the High Court held that his remarks scandalized the court and found him guilty of criminal contempt of court. A division bench of Justices Sonia Gokani and NV Anjaria imposed a fine of Rs. 2,000 and punishment till rising of the Court on Advocate Yatin Oza,for making "scurrilous remarks" against High Court and its Registry, during a live press conference on Facebook.

The High Court rejected the unconditional apology tendered by Oza as "lacking in bonafides".

Following that, Oza approached the Supreme Court, challenging the Full Court decision taking away his senior gown and also the contempt verdict. Before the Supreme Court also, Oza expressed unconditional apology for his remarks.

"I have absolutely no excuse. What I did was unpardonable. I am obliged for Your Lordships' grace. I am short of words to express this ", Oza had submitted before the Supreme Court.



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