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“All’s well that ends well”: Justice Arun Mishra, Senior lawyers bury the hatchet after agreeing on cordiality
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“All’s well that ends well”: Justice Arun Mishra, Senior lawyers bury the hatchet after agreeing on cordiality

Shruti Mahajan

Senior members of the Bar today stood up for one of their own days after Justice Arun Mishra reportedly issued contempt threats to Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan during the hearing of the land acquisition cases.

A battery of Senior lawyers and other members of the Bar gathered in Justice Mishra’s Court to convey to the Bench their concern over the threat to Sankaranarayanan.

The lawyers told the Bench that they had gathered there to request the judges to protect the edifice of the institution and to be patient with lawyers appearing before them.

Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal told the Court that the concern did not arise out of one specific incident, but rather a cumulation of incidents.

Sibal said that the institution of the Supreme Court has developed from traditions passed on from seniors to their juniors. This tradition of decorum, patience, and courtesy needs to be maintained, he said.

Many of us been in this Bar for over forty years and know the tradition of this Bar. We have learnt our traditions from our seniors and if there is a an environment of discourtesy, distinguished Judges who reach the (Bench) will also learn from there….only requesting you to allow the tradition to continue and allow the dialogue to be courteous.

This sentiment was echoed by former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who said,

We will come and go, Judges will come and go, but the cordiality should remain.”

Senior Counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Dushyant Dave also wished to submit before the Court that lawyers should be given a patient hearing. Singhvi said that the only request “with folded hands” before the Court is that the point of view of the lawyers is heard.

Dave requested the judges to encourage the young members of the Bar and help in “rebuilding this great institution“.

Justice Arun Mishra offered an explanation saying that he bears no grudge against anyone, leave alone any member of the Bar. He offered an apology to anyone who he may have unintentionally hurt. Justice Mishra said some exchanges often take place in the spur of the moment.

The judge went on to say that he has no qualms in apologising to anyone he may have hurt and offered “dandwat” apology, a hundred times over, to anyone, be it Gopal Sankaranarayanan himself or even a Bar member as young as 20 years old.

The lawyers collectively told the Court that an apology is not what they wish for, nor was it necessary, but the only purpose of raising the issue was to convey the sentiment of the Bar.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that he personally feels that the way the contentious incident was reported may not have conveyed accurately what transpired in the Court. However, he did echo the sentiments of his fellow members of the Bar.

Justice Mishra said that the Bar members were right in raising the issue and also remarked that Gopal Sankaranarayanan is a very promising lawyer who has a bright future. Justice Mishra also conveyed his best wishes to Sankaranarayanan, who was not present in the courtroom.

Justice MR Shah attempted to throw some light on the developments folowing the incident that prompted Sankaranarayanan to walk out of the courtroom. He said that the judge later reached out to Sankaranarayanan in order to allow him to complete his submission. However,

He refused bluntly”, Justice Shah said.

Justice Mishra shared his personal grievance, saying that he is often under attack by various quarters through write ups against him. He said that there is also a growing trend where the Court is not addressed properly and these are aspects in which there is room for improvement.

After having successfully conveyed their concerns, the lawyers said that they wish to put a quietus to the issue.

Your Lordships have understood us and we have understood you. All’s well that ends well.”

A heated exchange that took place on Tuesday between Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan and Justice Arun Mishra during a hearing in the land acquisition cases had raised questions of courtroom decorum.

Tuesday’s altercation had resulted in Gopal Sankaranarayanan walking out of the courtroom after Justice Mishra, who is heading the Constitution Bench hearing the land acquisition matters, threatened the lawyer with contempt.

The incident sparked off criticism from members of the Supreme Court Bar, with the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCAORA) and former Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President, Senior Advocate Vikas Singh making public statements expressing objection to Justice Mishra’s conduct.

In this regard, the SCAORA issued a resolution yesterday registering concern over the judge’s outburst, in the backdrop of previous complaints of Justice Mishra having passed unwarranted remarks. The Association also urged the judge to be a little more patient when dealing with arguing counsel.

On the other hand, Chairman of the Bar Council of India (BCI) Manan Kumar Mishra issued a statement castigating the public remarks made against Justice Mishra over the incident, observing that the issue ought have been addressed in a more tactful, dignified and decent manner.