Advocate Yatin Oza, whose senior designation was stripped off by the full court of Gujarat High Court, offered before the Supreme Court 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.
The bench, headed by Justice S K Kaul, expressed its unhappiness over the remarks of Oza, who is also the President of the Gujarat High Court Advocates Association.
"The kind of imputations you made, I don't agree with anything that. If seniors like you begin making such imputations, what about the Juniors who enter the profession?", Justice S K Kaul observed.
"The grievances to handle the members of the bar can be conveyed in a better language. Systems can be groomed. Imputations must not be made. In view of unconditional apology by Oza, we take note of the same. He has also said he shall do so before the full court in Gujarat HC. We have also put to the Petitioner that — as a leader of the bar and a senior, his responsibility is greater than others", the bench noted in the Order.
"You got designated so early at the bar as a senior, if anything, you should be a model for the younger generation", Justice Kaul remarked.
Justice Kaul also said that it was incorrect to say that only certain matters were being listed by the Court and that the Registry was working very hard.
"Grievances people can have - but to say that only Certain category of matters are being listed, to make imputations that certain other matters are being listed and not the rest — is not correct. The registry is working very hard indeed", Justice Kaul said at the outset.
Oza said that he was offering an unconditional apology for his remarks.
"I seek forgiveness. I offer my unconditional apology. I did so before the Full bench in Gujarat HC also. In my career, I have never done something like this. I became a Senior at 44", he said.
Senior Advocate Shekhar Naphade, who appeared for Oza, said that his remarks were out of his anguish about the plight of young lawyers.
The bench, however, asked Naphade to refrain from justifying Oza's behaviour.
Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, who was present for the next case, told the bench that Oza was a widely respected advocate for his in-depth knowledge of law.
"I am not in this matter but I am in item 101. The High Court that is being spoken of here is my home High Court ( #GujaratHighCourt ). I would like to tell My Lords to let him tender an apology before the HC & the Supreme Court as well", Dave submitted.
Order:In view of unconditional apology by Oza, we take note of the same. He has also said he shall do so before the full court in Gujarat HC. We have also put to the Petitioner that — As a leader of the bar and a senior, his responsibility is greater than others.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) August 6, 2020
Order:In view of unconditional apology by Oza, we take note of the same. He has also said he shall do so before the full court in Gujarat HC. We have also put to the Petitioner that — As a leader of the bar and a senior, his responsibility is greater than others.
Oza was stripped of his designation for making critical remarks against the HC Registry. 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 case 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.
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, 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".
In his plea, Oza stated that he keeps the Court in the highest regard and it was not his intention whatsoever to scandalise or lower the authority of the Court in any manner whatsoever. He has also tendered an apology for the 'unwarranted' mode and manner of voicing his grievances.
He has directly approached the Supreme Court stating that since the full Court of the High Court of Gujarat has participated in the impugned decision, challenging the same before the High Court would not be a correct course.
He has sought that the Full Court notification taking away his designation be set aside and Rule 26 of the HC Rules be declared as ultra vires.
Oza has submitted that the procedure followed by the High Court, particularly when proceedings were initiated against him by the Court itself and that too on the ground of having made unfounded allegations against the functioning of the Registry, has "extinguished" his chance to defend himself.
"There has never been a case of divesting the designation for criticising the Registry of the High Court. The same amounts to a chilling effect on free speech," the plea states.
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