Adv Prashant Bhushan’s tweets and Adv Nilesh Ojha’s articles are not contemptuous
Adv Prashant Bhushan’s tweets and Adv Nilesh Ojha’s articles supporting Jaganmohan Reddy’s complaint and demanding investigation against Justice N.V. Ramanna is not a case for contempt.
Timing of sending letter by Jaganmohan Reddy is wrong but since letter is subjudice before Chief Justice of India therefore it is not proper to comment.
Thus stated Attorney General K.K. Venugopal in his letter refusing to grant consent for initiating criminal contempt against Shri Jaganmohan Reddy, Adv Prashant Bhushan and Adv Nilesh Ojha.
Therefore, sending a complaint against Supreme Court Judges and publishing articles supporting CM Jaganmohan Reddy's demand of investigation against Justice Ramanna is not found to be a contempt.
The letter dated 2nd Nov 2020 sent by Shri Venugopal to the petitioner Mursalin Shaikh reads thus;
“ Having examined the tweets published by Sh. Prashant bhushan on his tweeter page and the statements attributed to Sh. Nilesh ojha, I do not find that the tweets or the statements warrant initiation of action for criminal contempt of the Supreme Court of India ”
The Petition which is to be filed in the Supreme Court had made a grievance against the three as under;
i) Shri Jaganmohan Reddy is guilty of contempt for sending the complaint as no one can send complaint against Supreme Court Judges in view of Re: Vijay Kurle’s case;
ii) Adv. Nilesh Ojha, National President of ‘Indian Bar Association’ is also co accused as he published an article justifying the act of Jaganmohan Reddy saying that making complaint against judges of Supreme court is permissible as per ‘In –House –Procedure’ and making it public is for public good as per various judgments of the Supreme court. He also criticized the other members of Bar saying that when matter is subjudice before Hon’ble CJI then their request for contempt is showing servile nature as no investiuation is done in the complaint;
iii) Adv.Prashant Bhushan is also guilty of publishing views on two tweets demanding investigation against Justice N. V. Ramanna.
But said request is rejected by the Attorney General.
The relevant paras of contempt petition of Mursalin Shaikh reads thus;
6. The Respondent No. 2 Adv. Prashant Bhushan also posted his views in support of Respondent No. 1 Jaganmohan Reddy. The tweet dated 10.10.2020 of Adv. Prashant Bhushan reads thus;
“ When a CM makes serious charges of corruption against a senior judge slated to become the next CJI to the present CJI, it needs a quick, independent & credible investigation, by 3 retired judges of the SC. No point in saying that CM is corrupt or that he should not make this public”
“ 7. The Respondent No. 3 Adv. Nilesh Ojha who is National President of Indian Bar Association, on 16.10.2020 had advocated the act of Respondent No. 1 in his article saying that as per earlier judgments of the Supreme Court the Respondent no. 1 was justified in making complaint to the Chief Justice and it is in public interest that the truth should be published.
8. It is further view of Respondent No.3 in his article as under;
“The sum and substance of the above judgments is that;
i) When any person is having sound proofs then he is duty bound to bring it to the authority empowered to take action against such person. By making complaints Shri Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy performed his constitutional duty as enschrigned in Art. 51(A) h of the constitution as ruled in the case of R.K. Jain (2010) 8 SCC 281
ii) Much harm is done by the myth that, merely by taking the oath of office as a judge, a man ceases to be human and strips himself of all predilections, becomes a passionless thinking machine and he will not indulge in corrupt practices.[ Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar's case (2011) 14 SCC 770]
iii) There are many cases where Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts are found to be involved in corruption and misused their position for giving undue favor to undeserving person and denying reliefs to the deserving one. Some are prosecuted and some managed to save them by doing further corruption.
iv) There is no protection available to a judge of Supreme Court and High Court if he commits serious criminal offences by misusing his position as a Judge.[ K. Veeraswami K. Veeraswami Vs. Union of India (1991) 3 SCC 655]
v) Contempt petition against a High Court or Supreme Court Judge can be filed before Supreme Court and Court is bound to examine it. [Re: C.S. Karnan (2017) 7 SCC 1]
vi) When any person is having sound proofs then he is duty bound to make it public so that
(a) the people with similar greviences may also be encouraged to come forward;
(b) it will create deterrence in the mind of said corrupt judge;
(c) further injustice and corruption of the said tainted Judge be stopped, prevented or at least the ‘coterie’ should be on backfoot (d) the vigilant citizens may give their proofs;
(e ) It will develop the accuemen of the citizens to analyze the modus oprandi of both i.e. the Corrupt judges and the disgruntled people making baseless allegations.[Bathina Ramakrishna Reddy AIR 1952 SC 149 Subramanyam Swamy (2014) 12 SCC 344, Aniruddha Bahal 2010 (119) DRJ 102, Bramha Prakash Sharma AIR 1954 SC 10, Baradkanta Mishra (1974) 1 SCC 374, Lalith Kalitha 2008 (1) GLT 800]
vii) If a particular judge or magistrate is corrupt and sells justice, then a bona fide complaint to higher authorities to take necessary action against the delinquent judicial officer is also an act to maintain the purity of the administration of justice, for it is unthinkable that a judicial officer should be allowed to take bribes and if anybody makes a grievance of the matter to the higher authorities, he should be hauled up for contempt of Court. [Rama Surat Singh Vs. Shiv Kumar Pandey 1969 SCC OnLine All 226, Harihar Shukla 1976 Cr.L.J. 507, Ram Piarra comrade 1972 SCC OnLine P&H 277, Baradkanta Mishra (1974) 1 SCC 374 ]
viii) The person making a complaint against a Judge can use the word ‘corrupt motive and malafide intention’ against a Judge and it does not amount to scandalous pleadings. [Ram Piarra comrade 1972 SCC OnLine P&H 277, R.K. Jain (2010) 8 SCC 281, Lalith Kalitha 2008 (1) GLT 800]
ix) In such situations the members of the Bar are expected to adopt the judicial approach and insist for investigation and to bring the truth to the surface. The members of the Bar will be failing in their duties laid down by Full Bench of Supreme Court in Maria Margarida Sequeria Fernandes and Ors v. Erasmo Jack de Sequeria, AIR 2012 SC1727, where it is ruled that in the administration of justice, Judges and Lawyers play equal roles. Like judges, lawyers also must ensure that truth triumphs in the administration of justice it must be the endeavor of all the Judges to ascertain truth in every matter and no stone should be left unturned in achieving this object.
x) It is the duty of the lawyer to expose corrupt Judges. In the case of R. Muthukrishnan Vs. The Registrar General Of The High Court AIR 2019 SC 849 , ruled that it is the duty of the Bar to protect honest judges and at the same time to ensure that corrupt judges are not spared;
xi) The members of Bar should avoid to make any comments which reflect their sycophant and servile conduct and people will feel that it is a sponsored act at the behest of corrupt/tainted Judges. The sycophancy of the members of the Bar will bring the name of Noble Profession in to disrepute.
xii) The members of the Bar and anyone who has filed contempt petition against Shri Jaganmohan Reddy and those who are willing to prosecute him under contempt without anything to counter the proofs given by Shri Jaganmohan, are guilty of judicial impropriety because the Hon’ble CJI is seized of the matter and if Hon’ble CJI don’t find it contemptuous then the other bench can not take cognizance of the contempt. [ Court on its Own Motion Vs. DSP Jayant Kashmiri 2017 SCC OnLine Del 7387]
xiii) They should need to be prosecuted under section 211,192,193,120(B), 34 of IPC in view of law laid down in Hari Dass Vs. State AIR 1964 SC 1773.
xiv) Such frivolous petition without any proof if filed by anyone be dismissed with heavy cost as ruled in R.K. Jain (2010) 8 SCC 281.Such members of Bar should also be expelled from the roll by the respective Bar Council. ”
9. Respondent no. 3 further quoted that Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of O. P. Sharma Vs. High Court of Punjab & Haryana (2011) 6 SCC 86 has ruled that,
“As per section-I of Chapter-II, part VI title “standards of professional conduct and etiquette” of the Bar Council India rules specifies the duties of an advocate that ‘he shall not be servile and whenever there is proper ground for serious complaint against Judicial officer, it shall be his right and duty to submit his grievance to proper authorities.”
The excerpts from from the book ‘The Law of Contempt’ by LexisNexis Borrie & Lowe, are relevant here. It reads thus;
“The interest of an efficient judiciary call for a strong and efficient bar, independent in outlook and not afraid to respectfully and boldly present the controversy in question. A sycophantic bar acting as an ‘Yes-man’ to the fulmination of an erring judge will only make the judge err more. A pampered judge will most likely stray away from the path of true justice. An opposite view strongly advanced by counsel helps the judge think over the pros and cons of a matter and come to a right decision. A weak bar is the greatest enemy to the administration of justice, Weak counsel to an overpowering judge is neither an asset to the profession nor to the interests of justice. In fact a weak and subservient counsel is the enemy of a judge’s personal progress. A seemingly hostile but robust advocate is the best benefactor to a judge who is ambitious of a bright carrier. The judge is gradually drawn to develop his intellectual poise and acumen, egged on as it were by combating counsel. A languishing bar is the surest sign of the decadence of the judiciary”
10. That all the above judgments relied by Respondent No. 3 are old laws and the law now made applicable is the law laid down in Re: Vijay Kurle 2020 SCC OnLine 407. Where it is ruled as under;
“67. We also fail to understand how Shri Vijay Kurle who is a lawyer claims that it is his fundamental right to initiate criminal proceedings against Judges. Some members of the Bar cannot hold the judiciary to ransom by threatening Judges of initiating criminal action. ..”
11. The act of respondent No. 2 and 3 is nothing but to instigate the common people and members of the Bar to lodge complaint against Judges of the Higher Judiciary. Terming it to be their right. Respondent no. 3 is going to propogate the wrong position of law.
No one is entitled to make a complaint of corruption against Judges. ”
However the above stand of the petitioner is not accepted by the Attorney General.
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