The Bombay High Court reiterated a stern warning to advocates regarding the inclusion of scandalous remarks against the Court in applications or pleadings without reasonable grounds. The Court emphasized that such actions, aimed at artificially creating a situation to prompt a judge’s recusal, may lead to contempt proceedings against the lawyers involved. This reminder came while contemplating action against two lawyers and issuing a contempt notice against their client.
Justices Nitin Sambre and NR Borkar stressed that in the conflict between a lawyer’s duties to the Court and their obligations to their client, the obligation to the Court takes precedence. Citing the Supreme Court judgment in M.Y. Shareef & Another vs. The Hon’ble Judges of the High Court of Nagpur & Others [1955 SCR (1) 757], the Court highlighted the advocate’s duty to advise their clients against making unwarranted allegations.
The division bench addressed a praecipe filed by Advocate Zoheb Merchant, representing Bhisham Hiralal Pahuja, and co-signed by Advocate Minal Jaiwant Chandnani, alleging bias against Justice Sambre. The article enclosed with the praecipe insinuated bias and impropriety on the part of Justice Sambre and even mentioned a complaint filed against him with the Chief Justice of India.
During court proceedings, Advocate Minal Jaiwant Chandnani defended the contents of the praecipe. However, the Court reprimanded both lawyers, stating that their actions aimed to scandalize the Court and disrupt proceedings. Subsequently, the lawyers tendered an unconditional apology.
Expressing strong disapproval of the lawyers’ conduct, the Court highlighted their persistence in filing the praecipe despite advice from the Registry against doing so. As a consequence, the Court directed the Pimpri-Chinchwad Commissioner of Police to serve a contempt notice on respondent Bhisham Pahuja. Additionally, the Court sought details from the newspaper ‘Rajdharma,’ which published the contentious article.
Drawing from a Supreme Court precedent, the High Court emphasized that lawyers cannot justify scandalous pleadings by citing client instructions. It vowed to scrutinize the sincerity of the lawyers’ apologies.
Concluding the matter, the Court underscored that creating a false perception by scandalizing the Courts to secure a judge’s recusal would not be tolerated. It emphasized the need to address such behavior decisively, both from lawyers and llitigants The case Is slated for the next hearing on January 12, 2024, as the Court deliberates further action in this matter.