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Repeated attempts to proceed against two judges of the Bombay High Court for contempt of court drew to an end earlier this week, with a Division Bench of the Court dismissing the case as unsustainable.
The Bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and BP Dharmadhikari dismissed the contempt case brought by Dr Mohan B Rawate after noting that he had failed to produce enough material for the Court to even examine whether the case had any merit.
Rawate’s grievance lay with an order passed by Justices Anoop Mohta (since retired) and GS Kulkarni dated September 29, 2016. By this order, the Bench had adjourned a writ petition filed by him sine die until a related criminal complaint pending before the Metropolitan Magistrate was disposed of. According to Rawate, the two judges had forged and post-dated this order.
As per the September 2016 order on record, the Bench had also granted Rawate liberty to move his plea if the Metropolitan Magistrate were to rule against him. The complaint before the Metropolitan Magistrate involved allegations that certain Annual Confidential Reports issued for the year 1998-1999 were forged.
Rawate alleged that the September 2016 High Court order was passed without allowing him to make any submissions, while the opponent’s counsel was allowed to submit “anything.” Further, he contended that he only got to know of the order passed in December 2016 after downloading a web copy.
Prior to this, Rawate had already made a representation to the Chief Justice against posting the case before the Bench of Justices Mohta and Kulkarni, and one other judge. Such representations were also made thereafter in 2017. Rawate alleged that the matter had only been adjourned to November 2016 in September. As per his contempt petition,
“Faces of Contemnors [the High Court judges] herein turned pale, they put heads down and Contemnor leading the Bench waved hand at other Contemnor on the Bench and with head down raised voice and said that appeared to have read some and ‘pressurizing us’ and that matters would be after 8 weeks (computer showed 24/11/2016).“
While this was the case, Rawate alleged that Justices Mohta and Kulkarni had forged the order adjourning his case indefinitely later, without his knowledge. He, therefore, sought to initiate contempt proceedings against the two judges.
However, Advocate General (AG) Ashutosh Kumbhakoni refused to give his approval for this move. This, in turn, prompted Rawate to arraign the AG as well in his contempt petition.
In this backdrop, the Bench of Justices Dere and Dharmadhikari pondered whether it was possible for Rawate to bring the contempt petition before it at all, in the absence of the AG’s approval for the same. However, the Bench did not have to deliberate too deeply on this issue before dismissing the case.
This is because Rawate only produced the supposedly forged order of September 2016 before the Court, which by itself did little to prove his allegations. There was no other order or material to support his case. Therefore, the Court held,
“In present facts, as we do not have any other order except the order dated 29/9/2016 on record of Writ Petition No.2814/1992 and other connected matters, we find the effort of the petitioner in present Criminal Contempt Petition unsustainable.
We are therefore not inclined to issue notice of this matter to any of the respondents. We reject the Criminal Contempt Petition. Request for any certificate to approach Hon’ble Apex Court is also rejected as no substantial question of law as to interpretation of the Constitution is either involved or arises for determination.“
Read the judgment: