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The Gujarat High Court has issued a suo motu criminal contempt notice to the President of the Gujarat High Court Advocates' Association (GHCAA) Yatin Oza in view of irresponsible, sensational and intemperate allegations of corruption allegedly levelled against the High Court and its Registry in a live press conference via Facebook (Suo Motu v. Yatin Narendra Oza).
As summarised in the order passed on Tuesday by the Bench of Justices Sonia Gokani and NV Anjaria, Oza is stated to have made the following, among other, accusations against the High Court and its Registry:
Corrupt practices are being adopted by the Registry of the High Court of Gujarat;
Undue favour is shown to high-profile industrialists and smugglers and traitors;
The High Court functioning is for influential and rich people and their advocates;
The billionaires walk away with orders from the High Court in two days whereas the poor and non-VIPs need to suffer;
If the litigants want to file any matter in the High Court, person has to be either Mr Khambhata or the builder or the company. This also was circulated in Gujarati daily Sandesh titled as ‘Gujarat High Court has become a gambling den - Yatin Oza’.
The Court observed that these "scurrilous remarks appear to have been made without any substantive basis and without any intent to know the truth as also without approaching the Honourable the Chief Justice for any inquiry as the Head of the Institution."
Further, the Bench noted that Oza appeared to have been fully aware that his actions may invite the initiation of contempt proceedings, finding that "he gave an open challenge to the authority of this Court in the very interview which is even worse than the very action."
The Court proceeded to opine that Oza had behaved in the most reckless manner in levelling false and contemptuous allegations of corruption, malpractices against the administration of the High Court, which also included categorical allegations of forum shopping which the Court asserted was without any valid or true basis.
In view of these observations, the Court proceeded to direct the registration of a suo motu criminal contempt case against Oza, finding that,
In passing the order, the Bench also noted that Oza had already faced criminal contempt proceedings before the Supreme Court. Back then, the Court had closed the contempt case on an unconditional apology and "thinking that ‘ the regret, the apology and repentance shall see the appellant (Oza) in a different incarnation.’"
"We are at pain to note that nothing changed", the High Court Bench noted.
The Court has also decided to look into whether Oza should be stripped of his designation as a Senior Advocate. To this end, the order states,
"We also deem it appropriate to place before the Chief Justice for consideration at the hands of the full Court whether to divest the stature of respondent under contempt, of designation of a senior Counsel under the circumstances."