More than 470 lawyers have written to the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) to do away with two resolutions proposed to be passed against Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Neeraj Kishan Kaul at a general body meeting of the bar body scheduled to be held on Thursday, March 16. .One of the two SCBA resolutions seeks the issuance of show cause notices to Sibal and Kaul for disagreeing with the manner in which SCBA president Vikas Singh had mentioned a case before Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud on March 2. Sibal and Kaul had also apologised to the CJI for Singh's conduct in court. The SCBA executive committee had subsequently expressed solidarity with Singh and proposed two resolutions against the two veteran lawyers.A general body meeting of the SCBA slated for March 16 at 4 PM will be voting on the issue.As per the letter endorsed by more than 470 lawyers including Senior Advocates, the proposed resolutions are an affront to the freedom of speech and expression are guaranteed to all citizens by the Constitution of India and the bar body should be protecting free speech instead of curtailing it."Freedom of speech and expression are guaranteed to all citizens by the Constitution of India. As advocates we are not only enjoined to effectively exercise our rights, but also to ensure that we protect the rights of others. The fact that the SCBA seeks to take affront to the exercise of these very rights, which it is supposed to protect is therefore, extremely troubling, especially when it is sought to be done in response to statements made at the Bar, and that too in the aftermath of certain events that transpired in the Courtroom of the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India," the letter said..BackgroundCJI Chandrachud had rebuked SCBA President Singh after the senior counsel continued to persist mentioning the matter despite the former saying it would be listed in ordinary course. Singh had gone on to state that he would even visit the CJI's residence to get the matter heard.In response, the CJI had raised his voice and ordered Singh to leave the court immediately. He asserted that he would not be intimidated, and that Singh would be treated only like any other litigant."You cannot expect the bench to be cowered down. I have never been browbeaten, and I will not let this happen in final two years of my career. You can pursue your political agendas outside the court hall."He had reminded Singh that he was asking for land allotted to the Supreme Court to be given to lawyers under Article 32. He had said that the matter would be listed on March 17, but not as the first item on the board.Shortly thereafter, Sibal and Kaul who were appearing in a case before the CJI, had apologised to the CJI on behalf of the bar for the incident."We feel equally anguished by what happened today ... equally hurt," Kaul had said..Following these developments, the executive committee of the SCBA "expressed solidarity" with Singh, and following a meeting held on March 6, proposed the resolutions concerned for final vote during the upcoming general-body meeting..Lawyers objection to the resolutionsThe letter outlining the opposition to the two resolutions states that the resolutions 'antithetical to the core values that the SCBA and the Bar are meant to uphold and stand for.'The actions of Kaul and Sibal were necessary to preserve the integrity of the institution, and maintain cordial relations between the bar and the bench, the letter adds.When such senior members see something less than pleasant unfold in Court, it is not just their right but their moral duty to stand up against it. "They are well within their rights to stand up and express their opinion, freely and fairly. In fact, it is their moral duty to do so, and we always look up to them for their guidance, and at times to self-contemplate a course correction," the letter states.Further, their only emphasis was that the decorum of courts be maintained."Today, Mr. Kapil Sibal and Mr. Neeraj Kishan Kaul are amongst the most well-regarded senior members of our Bar. They command the respect and admiration of an overwhelmingly large number of lawyers, not only for their legal acumen but also for how they conduct themselves in and outside the courtroom. When they saw an unpleasant incident unfold before them in the Chief Justice’s courtroom on 2.3.2023, it was their right, nay their duty, to state their opinion, express hurt, anguish and/or tender an apology without fear or favour.".Pertinently, the letter states that it would be unprecedent and dangerous on part of the SCBA to question independent views expressed by counsel inside a courtroom. "We feel that any discussion on the same would amount to a serious breach of privilege, and shall chillingly strike at the very root of what it means to be an advocate. The SCBA is meant to be a protector of the rule of law and rights enjoyed by advocates, not a transgressor of the same ... To assume that people cannot view the same event differently, demonstrates an extremely insular approach."It would be a travesty if bar members are hauled for expressing divergent views, and the resolutions have a chilling effect in this regard, it is argued."We beseech you to not sacrifice the cherished privileges of our professional independence, for the sake of political agendas and canvassing. These rights are far too important to be trifled with, and any ingress thereto would amount to a threat to the critical role advocates play in society."A copy of the letter has been marked to the Supreme Court Advocates-On-Record Association (SCAORA).