Yatin Oza
Yatin Oza
Litigation News

GHCAA President Yatin Oza moves SC against Suo Motu Contempt Notice; says Judges have "already made up mind against him"

The plea states that the ramification of the Gujarat High Court order is that it will ultimately damage not only Oza's reputation and career, but also destroy the freedom of speech guaranteed to him.

Debayan Roy

President of the Gujarat High Court Advocates' Association (GHCAA) Yatin Oza has moved the Supreme Court challenging the suo motu criminal contempt notice issued by the Gujarat High Court citing irresponsible, sensational and intemperate allegations of corruption levelled against the High Court and its Registry in a live press conference via Facebook (Yatin Oza v. Suo motu, High Court of Gujarat).

The petition by Oza filed through Advocate Purvish Jitendra Malkan states that the Gujarat High Court had “committed grave error in taking cognizance and issuing a notice without adherence to Rule 11 of the Contempt of Courts (Gujarat High Court) Rules, 1984 which requires that court can only record reason and then refer it to the Hon’ble Chief Justice for it being placed before the Bench having the said Roster.

On June 10, the High Court Bench of Justices Sonia Gokani and NV Anjaria stated that Oza had 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 had 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."

However, in his plea, Oza argues that Gujarat High Court order shows how the judges have “made up its mind against the petitioner and has not left scope of defence that the petitioner can take up.

The plea also states that the ramification of the Gujarat High Court order is that it will “ultimately damage not only the reputation the career and the standing of the petitioner but also destroy the very concept of freedom of speech guaranteed to the petitioner under Article 19 (1)(g) of the Constitution of India.”

The Gujarat High Court had 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.

Oza has argued in the plea that his statements in the Facebook live was misunderstood and that suo motu contempt notice “was not in accordance with law.”

"(The) Recording as a whole could be perused, it would be evidently clear that the petitioner has not raised a single figure against the judiciary or the pious and glorious institute being the High Court of Gujarat. Petitioner has not made any allegations against any Hon’ble Judge of the Hon’ble High Court", argues Oza in his petition.

Oza goes on to submit that he has stood up for judges in the past, painting the instance of Justice Akil Kureshi whose appointment as High Court Chief Justice was being delayed by the law ministry at the time.

Referring to the same, the GHCAA President has stated “when one of the Hon’ble Judges of this Hon’ble High Court was dished with discriminatory treatment and was sought to be made victim of political agenda, the petitioner had spearheaded the movement against such an action and stood toll to protect the independence of judiciary.”

The petitioner has also raised questions on whether the way in which the order was circulated may be linked to a complaint he made against the Registry over not intimating him of a bail hearing in a case involving an influential opponent.

In this regard, Oza points out that the order regarding the issuance of contempt notice was uploaded only by night. However, earlier in the afternoon journalists had already tweeted about the same.

"A message that notice of Criminal Contempt has been issued to the petitioner had started circulating at around 12 in the noon, almost 12 hours before the notice was made available on the website of the High Court. It is astonishing that a reporter of The Hindu had tweeted about the same at around 1 pm on his official twitter handle. Considering the fact that the virtual hearing platform absolutely eliminates the possibility of the presence of any advocate during the contemplation of the suo motu proceedings by the Division Bench", reads the plea.

Oza goes on to argue that this should have been “impossible” since there was no advocate present with the judges when the matter was taken up via virtual hearing. The petitioner, therefore, contends that "there is an evident mole in the registry."

"The fact that the confirmed message of criminal contempt being initiated against the petitioner floating around is evident that there is big mole in the Registry which has planned and executed a strategy in order to silent the sole independent voice crusading and spear heading the fight for the fraternity and fight against the corrupt practices rampant in the registry", Oza has submitted.

The petitioner has now urged the Supreme Court to stay the High Court order in the interim and adjudicate the validity of the said order as the main prayer.

Oza has also raised constitutional questions such as "Whether there is a right to criticise systemic inadequacies and malpractices in the Registry of Courts and administration thereof in larger public interest under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India?"

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