Yatin Oza
Yatin Oza
Litigation News

[Breaking] "No more than a paper apology": Gujarat HC Full Court rejects Yatin Oza's apology in plea to re-confer his Senior Gown

The Full Court had earlier withdrawn Oza's Senior designation after he made certain allegations against the Court's Registry. Oza is also facing contempt proceedings over these remarks.

Meera Emmanuel

The Full Court of the Gujarat High Court has unanimously decided not to accept the unconditional apology tendered by Yatin Oza, whose Senior designation was recalled earlier this year after he levelled allegations of corruption against the Court Registry in an online press conference.

Following a meeting held on August 23, the Full Court held,

"The apology at such a belated stage even if it is assumed to be sincere and bonafide has to be rejected as the same has paled into insignificance in view of the irreparable damage caused to the prestige and honour of the Institution."
Gujarat HC Full Court

The Full Court has held that to accept Oza's apology would be a failure on its part to uphold the majesty and dignity of the Court, and to maintain the confidence of the people in the judiciary. The order, a copy of which is in Bar & Bench's possession, reads,

"Why does Mr. Oza always expect the High Court to show magnanimity and pardon him for his misconducts? Why cannot Mr. Oza exercise restraint and behave in a manner befitting a Senior Counsel? A very well articulated and conscious attack mounted on the Institution and that too for no good cause or reason, should not be overlooked, pardoned or ignored. If such an attack is not dealt with firmly, it will affect the honour and prestige of the highest Court of the State. Such malicious, scurrilous and calculated attack on the very foundation of the institution of the Judiciary cannot be wished away with apologies."

On August 10, Oza had expressed his unconditional apology for his statements, which have also drawn suo motu criminal contempt proceedings against him. Shortly after the contempt proceedings were initiated, Oza's Senior designation was withdrawn by the Full Court on July 18.

Justices Sonia Gokani and NV Anjaria, who are hearing this contempt case, recused from being part of the Full Court that has now declined to accept Oza's apology insofar as the withdrawal of his Senior gown is concerned.

On August 23, the Full Court heard Senior Advocates Arvind Datar and Mihir Joshi, as well as Oza in person. It was pleaded that Oza's statements were made emotionally amid the COVID-19 crisis and that he may be pardoned for the same one last time. The Court was thus urged to re-confer Oza's Senior Advocate designation.

In his statement, Oza had said,

"I have the utmost respect for the Hon’ble High Court and it was not my intention whatsoever to scandalize or lower the authority of the Hon’ble Court in any manner whatsoever. I should not and ought not to have made utterances like corrupt practice in the Registry and ought not to have used the terminology of “gambling den” which I unreservedly withdraw. For that and for all my unjustified utterances, I sincerely tender my unconditional, unequivocal and unqualified apology and I request that the same be accepted."

The Court, however, was unanimous in deciding not to accept the apology, holding that the "the apology tendered was not bonafide."

It opined that Oza's comments cannot be seen as emotional aberrations or made in the heat of the moment.

"The press conference was planned 30 hours in advance. An open invitation was advanced to all the lawyers to attend the same. Invitations were extended to the print and electronic media. A live telecast of the same was planned and executed. The contents of the press conference, to a large extent was published well in advance through different media platforms."

The Full Court added that there were conscious and deliberate statements made during the press conference by Oza, who expressed that he is ready to face potential contempt proceedings against him. The Court, thus, rejected Oza's apology, stating,

"The Full Court is convinced and firmly believes that the apology tendered by Mr. Oza at the earlier in point of time and the apology tendered today is completely lacking in bonafides and is no more than a paper apology. Even as an expression of unqualified apology it cannot be accepted in th context of the irreparable damage caused to this Institution. The Full Court is firmly of the view that the remorse expressed is a tool to escape the consequences of his misconduct, now having befallen him."

The Court added that each of the judges were of the same opinion that "in no circumstances the apology of Mr. Oza should be accepted after his malicious, scurrilous calculated attack on the very foundation of the Institution of the Judiciary. All the Judges unanimously and in one voice expressed that the so-called unqualified apology of Mr. Oza is nothing but a paper apology."

Terming Oza's apology as an attempt to refurbish his image and get out of a tight situation, the Court has ruled,

"... the Full Court unanimously declines to accept the apology and accordingly the representation of Mr. Oza dated 10th August 2020 stands rejected."
Full Court of Gujarat High Court

Earlier, Oza had also expressed his unconditional apology before the Supreme Court of India in the matter as well. The Court, however, declined to decide the matter and instead directed Oza to approach the High Court.

The Supreme Court had further expressed that it hopes that the Gujarat High Court will take note of Oza's unconditional apology and close the case.

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