Yatin Oza,  Supreme Court
Yatin Oza, Supreme Court
Litigation News

"Not a paper apology", Yatin Oza says as SC defers hearing of challenge to Senior designation revocation till Gujarat HC decision

When Oza assured the Court that he was "deeply sorry from the bottom of his heart", the Court expressed hope that the consequence of his actions this time will be minimal.

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today deferred till September 29 the hearing of Yatin Oza's petition challenging the decision of the Gujarat High Court to revoke his Senior designation.

Oza had challenged Gujarat High Court's decision to revoke his senior designation before the Supreme Court. Since the Gujarat High Court is scheduled to pass certain orders in relation to the issue on September 17, the Apex Court deferred the hearing until after such orders are passed.

The Gujarat High Court had initiated contempt proceedings against Oza after he make allegations of corruption against the High Court's Registry. The High Court subsequently also recalled Oza's senior designation, which he then challenged before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court had earlier deferred the hearing in the case in light of the pending contempt case against Oza before the Gujarat High Court.

The Full Court of the Gujarat High Court had refused to accept Oza's apology, observing that it was "nothing more than a paper apology".

Oza's apology was also rejected by the High Court's Division Bench in relation to the contempt case against him.

Today, the Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari was informed by Advocate Nikhil Goel that though the High Court had refused to accept Oza's apology, it would be incorrect to say that he has been held guilty of contempt.

While the Bench decided to wait for the High Court to pass relevant orders in these cases on September 17, Oza submitted that he is sincere in his apology and that it is "not a mere paper apology".

Senior Advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Arvind Datar and Shekhar Naphade also batted for Oza. Naphade said that Oza "has a heart of gold" but a few "temperamental issues". Singhvi told the Court that while Oza's apology was not accepted by the High Court, later it was said that he only apologised and did not argue his case on merits.

The Supreme Court, while deferring the hearing, also suggested that the matter may be heard as an appeal against the decision of the High Court. It thus allowed the counsel to serve a copy of the Special Leave Petition against the Gujarat High Court to the other parties before the next date of hearing, which is September 29.

During the hearing, Justice Kaul also remarked that this entire incident was largely unfortunate, and that Oza had been found to be "browbeating the Court" on multiple occasions.

When Oza assured the Court that he was "deeply sorry from the bottom of his heart", the Court expressed hope that the consequence of his actions this time will be minimal.

Oza had moved the Supreme Court challenging the Gujarat High Court's decision to withdraw his Senior Advocate designation. Oza challenged this as being violative of Articles 14, 10(1)(g), and 21 of the Constitution of India.

In his plea before the Supreme Court, Oza has submitted,

"I have expressed my unconditional regret for some emotional utterances, and reiterate it, but I do believe that my conduct does not warrant withdrawal of my designation as Senior Advocate particularly since it is not in any manner relating to or connected with the discharge of my professional duties and which would in any case be extremely disproportionate."

As for his remarks against the Court's Registry, Oza has submitted that it was not his intention to scandalise or lower the authority of the Court in any manner.

Oza has also assailed the constitutionality of Rule 26 of the High Court of Gujarat Senior Designation Rules, 2018, which is contended to be ultra vires Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution.

Rule 26 empowers a Full Court of the High Court to divest an advocate of his Senior Advocate designation if he is found "guilty of conduct" which the Court feels disentitles the advocate to continue being worthy of the Senior Advocate designation.

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