GHAA President Yatin Oza
GHAA President Yatin Oza
Litigation News

Contempt Proceedings against Yatin Oza: Gujarat HC rejects intervention plea by Advocate Amit Panchal, but admits material produced by him

"Any material which is authentic and is derived from any source which is not questionable, the court can make use of it without permitting anyone to implead itself as an intervener", the Court said.

Lydia Suzanne Thomas

The Gujarat High Court has dismissed an intervention application filed by Advocate Amit Manibhai Panchal in the criminal contempt proceedings against GHAA President Yatin Oza.

Advocate Panchal had sought either of the two alternative reliefs i.e., an impleadment to the proceedings to ‘assist the Court’, or that the material he produced be taken on record by the Court.

The Bench of Justices Sonia Gokani and NV Anjaria is dealing with a suo motu criminal contempt case initiated against Oza for certain comments deemed as contemptuous.

Advocate Panchal had submitted to Court that Oza allegedly circulated the details of a telephonic conversations with the Chief Justice of India in a High Court Advocates WhatsApp group. He also produced a letter supposedly written by Oza that was on the record in another case filed by Panchal and which was pending before the High Court.

Through his counsel, Senior Advocate Mihir Thakore, Advocate Panchal explained that he was approaching the Court in the capacity of an ‘informer.'

It was submitted that the High Court’s contempt jurisdiction under the Constitution and the Contempt of Courts Act permitted it to consider material from ‘any corner’. In this regard, he relied on a recent pronouncement of the Supreme Court in Vijay Kurle and Ors. and an earlier decision, Om Prakash Jaiswal.

Oza’s Counsel, on the other hand, argued that the intervenor had oblique motives in approaching the Court after Oza had tendered an unconditional apology for his statements. Appearing for Oza, Senior Advocates Mihir Joshi and Arvind Datar opposed the move to bring on record the documents produced by Panchal.

However, Shalin Mehta, the amicus curiae appointed by the Court, agreed with the applicant’s proposition that the Court was permitted to consider material submitted by any party.

However, no party has a right to participate in a suo motu proceeding, he emphasized, because a contempt proceeding is essentially between the Court and a contemnor. He relied on the Vijay Kurle ruling as well.

In view of these submissions, the Court rejected the intervention application, observing,

"No one has any statutory right to claim to be an intervener or to participate as the complainant in the proceedings of contempt which is between the court and the contemner. It is exclusively the court’s discretion to take into account even the material which comes from a reliable source termed to be the material to initiate action of contempt whether to initiate the action on the basis of such material or not, even if it is found to be prima facie the material of contempt. No one can compel the court to initiate any action of contempt."

However, the Court took notice of the material placed before the Court by Panchal, saying,

"Any material which is authentic and is derived from any source which is not questionable, the court can make use of it without permitting anyone to implead itself as an intervener. It being a material which is related, it is required to be taken on record."

The Court also opined,

“Looking to the kind of allegations and utterances in the press conference which are the subject matter of Suo Motu contempt proceedings initiated by this Court, and the nature of the defence sought to be raised by the Opponent no.2 (Oza), this act and conduct of circulating the aforementioned letter sent by him to the Honourable the Chief justice of India in the WhatsApp group of the High Court advocates and his tall claims therein, cannot be viewed in segregation.”

Upon a request by Ozas’s Counsel for the matter to be taken up on August 24, the matter was accordingly adjourned.

Read the Court's Order in the Intervention Application:

AMIT MANIBHAI PANCHAL v. SUO MOTU - Order.pdf
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Read the Adjournment Order:

Suo Motu v. Yatin Narendra Oza - Interim Order.pdf
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