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BAR AND BENCH RELATIONSHIP: ADVOCATE SHALL NOT INDULGE IN SCANDALISING JUDICIARY

In a case before Supreme Court of India, M.B. Sanghi, Advocate vs High Court Of Punjab And Haryana ... Decided on 31 July, 1991 by the Bench Consisting of AHMADI, A.M. (J) & AGRAWAL, S.C. (J) Reported in AIR 1991 SC 1834:- Unable to secure an ad-interim stay in favour of his client, the appellant, a practising Advocate, uttered cer- tain words imputing motives to the Sub-Judge in refusing to grant the stay. The sub-Judge submitted a report to the District and Sessions Judge setting out the words uttered by the appellant, for taking necessary action against him. The District and Sessions Judge in turn submitted a report to the High Court, and proceedings for contempt were initiated by the High Court. The Supreme court held that “The appellant had made an attack on the learned Subordinate Judge which was disparaging in character and derogatory to his dignity and would vitally shake the confi- dence of the public in him and that the aspersions made by the appellant had the effect of scandalising the Court in such a way as to create distrust in the people's mind and impair confidence of the prople in Court. The appellant has, therefore, been rightly held guilty of having committed the contempt of court under section 2(c)(i) of the Act. The High Court, in its appreciation of evidence, has rightly placed reliance on the testimony of the Sub- Judge corroborated by the evidence of the Reader in his Court, in preference to the testimony of the three Advocates. ………………… Moreover this was not the first occasion in which proceedings for contempt of court had been initiated against the appellant and on an earlier occasion also proceedings for contempt of court had been initiated against him in pursuance of a report of the then Chief Judicial Magistrate, and in those proceedings the rule issued against the appellant was discharged on his tendering unqualified apology before the High Court. In those proceed- ings also the appellant is said to have made disparaging remarks against the Judge. Keeping in view the said circumstance, the High Court has found that the appellant was addicted to using contemptuous language and making scurrilous attacks on Judges. …………. In the instant case, the appellant repeated his performance presumably because he was let off lightly on the first occasion. Softjustice is not the answer. The appellant cannot be let off on an apology which is far from sincere. His apology was hollow, there was no remorse-no regret--it was only a device to escape the rigour of the law. The High Court rightly did not accept it. 

CASES AND GUIDELINES APTLY QUOTED M.Y. Shareef & Anr. v. The Hon'ble Judges of the High Court of Nagpur & Ors., [1955] 1 SCR 757, relied on. Per Ahmadi, J. (Concurring): 1. The exact words uttered by the appellant, leave no doubt that the intention of the appellant was to cast aspersions on the integrity of the Judge and to lower him in the esteem of others by creating doubts regarding his honesty, judicial impartiality and independence. The tendency of maligning the reputation of Judicial Officers by disgruntled elements who fail to secure the desired order is ever on the increase and it is high time it is nipped in the bud. And, when a member of the profession resorts to such cheap gimmicks with a view to browbeating the Judge into submission, it is all the more painful. When there is a deliberate attempt to scandalise which would shake the confidence of the litigating public in the system, the damage caused is not only to the reputation of the concerned Judge but also to the fair name of the judiciary. Veiled threats, abrasive behaviour, use of disre- spectful language and at times blatant condemnatory attacks like the present one are often designedly employed with a view to taming a Judge into submission to secure a desired order. Such cases raise larger issues touching the independ- ence of not only the concerned Judge but the entire institu- tion. The foundation of our system which is based on the independence and impartiality of those who man it will be shaken if disparaging and derogatory remarks are made against the Presiding Judicial Officers with impunity. The much cherished judicial independence which is of vital importance to any free Society, has to be protected not only from the executive or the legislature but also from those who are an integral part of the system. 

L.D. Jaikwal v. State of U.P., [ 1984] 3 SCC 405. This Court described it as a 'paper apology and refused to accept it in the following words: "We do not think that merely because the appellant has tendered his apology we should set aside the sentence and allow him to go unpunished. Otherwise, all that a person wanting to intimidate a Judge by making the grossest imputations against him has to do, is to go ahead and scandalize him, and later on tender a formal empty apology which costs him practically nothing. If such an apology were to be accepted, as a rule, and not as an exception, we would in fact be virtually issuing a 'licence' to scandalize courts and commit contempt of court with impunity. It will be rather difficult to persuade members of the Bar, who care for their self-respect, to join the judiciary if they are expected to pay such a price for it. And no sitting judge will feel free to decide any matter as per the dictates of his conscience on account of fear of being scandalized and persecuted by an advocate who does not mind making reckless allegations if the Judge goes against his wishes. If this situation were to be counte- nanced, advocates who can cow down the Judges, and make them fail in line with their wishes, by threats of character assassination and persecution, will be preferred by the liti- gants to the advocates who are mindful of professional ethics and believe in maintaining the decorum of courts." 

IMPORTANCE OF ETHICAL VALUES AND DUTY OF BAR COUNCIL When a member of the Bar is required to be punished for use of contemptuous language it is highly painful--it pleases none--but painful duties have to be performed to uphold the honour and dignity of individual Judge and his office and the prestige of the institution. Courts are generally slow in using their contempt jurisdiction against erring members of the profession in the hope that the con- cerned Bar Council will chasten its members for failure to maintain proper ethical norms. If timely action is taken by Bar Councils, the decline in the ethical values can be easily arrested.

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