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Contempt threat by Justice Arun Mishra against Gopal Sankaranarayanan draws criticism from the Bar

Contempt threat by Justice Arun Mishra against Gopal Sankaranarayanan draws criticism from the Bar

Bar & Bench

Following Justice Arun Mishra’s threats to initiate contempt proceedings against Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan amidst arguments yesterday, sharp criticism over the incident has been registered by members of the Supreme Court Bar.

In this regard, the Executive Committee of the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCAORA) has passed a resolution expressing deep concern over Justice Mishra’s outburst against Sankaranarayanan, “while he was performing his professional duties.”

The resolution goes on to remark that several lawyers have repeatedly been raising grievances of a similar nature, concerning unwarranted treatment and the passing of personal remarks by Justice Arun Mishra. In view of the same, the SCAORA has appealed that Justice Mishra be a little more patient in dealing with lawyers. 

The duty to maintain dignity and decorum of the Court is cast upon both Lawyers and Judges,” the resolution states.

This concern is echoed in a letter issued today by Former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, who has called for an urgent meeting of the SCBA Executive Committee to respond to the incident. In his letter, Singh states

“..…. Terrorising lawyers under the threat of contempt and not allowing them to argue under that threat undermines the very fundamentals of the justice delivery system.

Senior Advocate Vikas Singh (pictured left) has called upon the SCBA to react to the incident
Senior Advocate Vikas Singh (pictured left) has called upon the SCBA to react to the incident

He has, therefore, called for the passage of a resolution to condemn the incident and to urge for an apology from Justice Mishra, failing which it is proposed that the Association register their protest to protect the prestige of the Bar. The letter proposes,

“… we will not stand in Court when the Hon’ble Judge enters the Courtroom. This action by the Executive Committee will not in any way be construed as disrespect either the Chair that the Hon’ble Judge occupies or the other Hon’ble Judges sharing the Bench but will serve as a mark of protest towards protecting the prestige of the Bar.”

The controversy emanates from a heated exchange that took place between Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan and Justice Arun Mishraduring yesterday’s hearing in the land acquisition cases.

The altercation 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.

As per reports, when Sankaranarayanan started arguing for one of the parties, Justice Mishra asked him to go straight to his interpretation of Section 24 of the Land Acquisition Act. Even as Sankaranarayanan sought some time to shape his arguments, Justice Mishra told him to go straight to the point.

When Sankaranarayanan asked the Court if he could come back to his 8-point submissions after explaining his interpretation of Section 24, Justice Mishra reportedly reacted,

“Are you retorting? Are you retorting to us? How dare you?”

The judge proceeded to threaten the Senior Advocate with contempt if he continued speaking. Mishra J reportedly said,

“One more word and I will not only issue contempt against you but will also ensure you are convicted.”

This prompted Sankaranarayanan to close his files and walk out of the courtroom.

[Read the SCAORA Resolution]


[Read the letter by Senior Advocate Vikas Singh below]