Allahabad High Court initiates contempt of court case against lawyer Asok Pande who used abusive language against judges, called them 'goondas'
The Allahabad High Court at Lucknow has initiated criminal contempt of court proceedings against a lawyer, Asok Pande for using abusive language against judges while arguing a case, and calling them 'goondas' (In Re: Suo Motu - Ashok Pande).
A Division Bench of Justices Ritu Raj Awasthi and Dinesh Kumar Singh, said that Pande's conduct amounted to ex facie contempt of court and he had a history of such behaviour.
"He created ruckus in the Court in the morning and atmosphere of the Court got completely vitiated. He used abusive language against the judges and said that the Judges were behaving like 'goondas'," the order passed by the High Court on August 18 recorded.
Besides initiating the contempt proceedings, the Court also directed the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh to take appropriate disciplinary proceedings against Pande.
"He used intemperate language, indulged in indecent behaviour amounting to gross misconduct and he challenged the authority of the Court. His conduct was unbecoming a member of the legal profession," the court said
The Court in its order also observed that it is the duty of judges and lawyers to uphold the majesty of law and maintain purity in justice delivery system.
"The dignity of judges cannot be allowed to be polluted by these disgruntled and publicity seeking persons. The past conduct of Sri Asok Pande and ex facie contempt committed by him today in the Court room does not leave us with any scope other than charging him for committing ex facie contempt of the court in order to protect the majesty and dignity of this Court," the Court added.
The incident happened on August 18, when mentioning of cases was progressing before the Bench.
Asok Pande then stepped into the courtroom in civil dress with an unbuttoned shirt.
When the Court asked him why he was not in lawyer's attire, he said that he had by way of a public interest litigation petition, challenged the Bar Council Rules prescribing the lawyers dress code and, therefore, would not wear lawyer's uniform.
He also added that he was appearing in-person and therefore, it was not required for him to don lawyers’ uniform.
The Court told him that he should at least appear in ‘decent dress’ if he was appearing in person. On this, he started questioning the Court on ‘what is decent dress’. The Court asked him to button his shirt, which he did not do.
"He created ruckus in the Court in the morning and atmosphere of the Court got completely vitiated. He used intemperate language, indulged in indecent behaviour amounting to gross misconduct and he challenged the authority of the Court. His conduct was unbecoming a member of the legal profession. When he was warned that if he would not behave properly, the Court would have no option except to remove him from the Court, he challenged the Court and said that if the Court had power, it could remove him from the Court," the order passed by the Court said, narrating the events of the day.
The Court also noted that two days prior to that, on August 16, Pande had indulged in similar unruly behaviour when the hearing in the case relating to Awadh Bar Association elections was in progress.
"Mr Asok Pande barged in the Court and came to podium without uniform and started shouting on top of his voice. When the Court asked him that in what capacity, he was addressing the Court, he said that he was a Member of the Avadh Bar Association and had every right to address the Court. When the Court asked that why he was not in uniform, he said that would not don the advocate’s uniform as he had challenged the Bar Council Rules prescribing the Dress Code for Lawyers," the order said.
In view of these, the Court on August 18 directed police officials to take Pande into custody till 3 PM.
"We ordered to keep him in custody till 3 PM so that he could come to Court and express his remorse and tender unconditional apology to the court for his outrageous behaviour in the Court."
Later that day, a senior member of the Bar Senior Advocate Mohd. Arif Khan mentioned the matter and requested that the issue be given a quietus.
The Court then asked whether any respected member of the Bar would be willing to take responsibility for Pande’s future behaviour in court but nobody came forward, the Court noted.
Accordingly, contempt proceedings were initiated against Pande by the court.
"We hold that Asok Pande has prima facie committed ex facie contempt of Court during the court proceedings today, i.e, 18-08-2021 which amounts to scandalizing and lowering the authority of this Court and interference with due course of judicial proceedings and, it also has tendency to interfere or obstruct the administration of justice," the Court said.