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The Supreme Court has also observed in its verdict that the contemnors were waging a proxy battle for Advocate Mathews Nedumpara who was made to swear that he would never browbeat judges.
The Supreme Court Bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose has held three lawyers, Vijay Kurle, Rashid Khan Pathan and Nilesh Ojha guilty of contempt for making “scandalous and scurrilous” allegations against judges of the Supreme Court.
The genesis of the case is in a Supreme Court order passed in March last year, when advocate Mathews J Nedumpara was sentenced to three months in jail by a Bench led by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman for attempting to browbeat judges in a matter related to the designation of senior advocates.
Though the jail term was done away with, the Bench had then initiated a fresh suo motu contempt case against Kurle, Pathan and Ojha.
The notice for contempt was issued for filing frivolous complaints against Justices RF Nariman and Vineet Saran.
In this regard, the Bench had taken note of a letter sent to the President of India, the then Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi and the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court by the President of the Bombay Bar Association and the President of the Bombay Incorporated law Society, in which they highlighted the frivolous attempts made by the above-named lawyers and parties to terrorize and intimidate the judges.
A letter by Advocate Vijay Kurle, on behalf of one "Indian Bar Association" (to President of India, CJI, Bombay HC CJ) sought permission to prosecute the judges and withdrawal of judicial work from them for having passed a Judgment dated March 12, 2019 convicting Mathews Nedumpara for contempt of the Supreme Court.
A letter by Rashid Khan Pathan, claiming himself to be the National Secretary of the Human Rights Security Council, sought similar directions/ permissions against the judges for having passed another order in another matter. The Bombay Bar Association also said that the Indian Bar Association is not a recognised Bar Association and that it has reasons to believe that it is a self serving body floated by Advocates Nilesh Ojha and Vijay Kurle.
After examining the contents of the letters, Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose noted that “both the complaints are ex facie contemptuous. Highly scurrilous and scandalous allegations have been levelled against the two judges of this Court. In our view, the entire contents of the complaints amount to contempt."
The Court went on to emphasise that the relationship between the bench and the bar should be of mutual respect.
The Bench has also noted that the allegations put forth by Kurle about the judges being “criminal minded” or “running a syndicate” was indeed contemptuous.
“Vijay Kurle has the temerity and gall to make the accusations against 2 sitting Judges of this Court alleging that they are criminal minded Judges, that they have twisted material facts and have misinterpreted the settled laws of this Court,” said the Court.
The Bench added,
The Supreme Court has also concluded that the contemnors were waging a proxy battle for Mathews Nedumpara who was made to swear that he would never browbeat judges.
Though the contemnors claimed during the hearing of this case that neither did they expressed solidarity with Nedumpara nor had anything personal against Justice Nariman, the Court stated that the reading of the complaints revealed a different picture. The Bench found that it was as if the contemnors were waging a proxy battle on behalf of Mathews Nedumpara.
“When we read both the complaints together it is obvious that the alleged contemnors are fighting a proxy battle for Shri Nedumpara. They are raking up certain issues which could have been raised only by Shri Nedumpara and not by the alleged contemnors,” says the Supreme Court verdict.
The court has now slotted the case for hearing on May 1 for sentencing orders.
Read the Judgment: