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#SCBA: PP Rao, Ram Jeth oppose boycott; Dave says Seniors only “counsel”

Murali Krishnan

#SCBA: PP Rao, Ram Jeth oppose boycott; Dave says Seniors only “counsel”

Senior Advocates PP Rao and Ram Jethmalani have responded unfavourably to the call by the Executive Committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association to boycott all functions involving judges of the Supreme Court and to stop giving farewell to retiring Supreme Court judges.

The SCBA Executive Committee will be placing two resolutions before the General Body tomorrow evening. One is a resolution to boycott all functions involving judges of the Supreme Court including independence day, law day etc. and to stop giving farewell to retiring Supreme Court judges. The second resolution details the course of action SCBA would follow – that is file a writ petition in the Supreme Court if their demands are not met within two weeks.

Rao, in an email communication to SCBA Secretary Aishwarya Bhati, has supported the second resolution but has expressed his opposition to the first one stating that it will strain the relations between the Bench and the Bar. Excerpts from his email read as follows:

“However, I would like the Members of the Executive Committee as well as Members of the General Body of the Supreme Court Bar Association to reconsider the proposed Resolution No. 1 that Members will not participate in any Official Functions with Hon’ble Judges of the Supreme Court, including References, Independence Day and Law Day and not give any Farewell to Hon’ble Retiring Judges.

Full Court References to departed Judges are meant to place on record the gratitude of the Bench and the Bar to the service rendered by each one of the departed Judges and lawyers.  To boycott such References would amount to insulting the memory of departed Judges, for no fault of theirs apart from affecting the prestige, dignity and credibility of the Bench and the Bar……

Similarly, Independence Day is the day of national rejoicing at which the National Flag is hoisted.   It is a Fundamental Duty of every citizen to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem.  I am of the considered view that it would be improper to boycott the Independence Day celebrations…..

Farewell to a Judge by the Bar is a long standing convention which demonstrates institutional courtesy of the Bar towards the Bench. I always try to attend every farewell function of a Judge without exception, even if I felt that a particular Judge did not deserve the honour.  So long as the person holds the judicial office, the chair deserves respect which extends incidentally to the incumbent.”

Ram Jethmalani has also responded to the call of the Executive Committee and has stated that the move is ill-advised and almost a contemptuous confrontation with the judiciary. In a letter written to SCBA President Dushyant Dave, Jethmalani has stated that,

“This is the time when our judiciary needs to be strengthened by full co-operation of the Bar and I regret that at least I cannot be party to it.”

The President of SCBA, Dushyant Dave has given a scathing reply to Rao’s mail. The same is available for perusal on the facebook page of SCBA.

Dave has stated that Rao could have used his stature to prevail upon the Bench with respect to the problems faced by the Bar in terms of infrastructure, instead of counselling the Bar.

“I truly wish that instead of reminding us of our duties and obligations, which I humbly submit are totally irrelevant, you Sir, had reminded the Hon’ble Chief Justice and the Court officials of their duties and obligations towards the Bar and it’s Members. Your stature is such that you could have easily prevailed upon them to see the harsh reality in absence of decent facilities. You have and can meet the Hon’ble Chief Justice to bring about Just solution to this vexed problem.

You have been kept informed of each of these burning issues, including Designation of Seniors by the Court. I too have discussed them with you and you have always kindly offered me your ear and advise. So what prevented you Sir to do it this time for the Bar? Instead of this wise counsel to us, you could have picked up the phone and talked to the Hon’ble Chief Justice to sort out the issues. So why did you not, is very perplexing.”

Dave has also stated that though many Senior Advocates spoke to him and told him to avoid confrontation with the Bench, none of them offered the SCBA their help or services to resolve the impasse.

As the plot thickens, tomorrow’s 3 pm General Body meeting at Plaza canteen will, no doubt, be riveting.

Read the mails of PP Rao and Dushyant Dave below.

PP Rao

Dear Ms. Aishwarya Bhati,

I have gone through your circular as well as the Explanatory Note of Mr. Dushyant Dave, President of SCBA.

I appreciate the resolve of the Executive Committee of SCBA to fight for the rights of its members and to help them to assist the Court more efficiently and effectively in the administration of justice.  It is a  matter of concern that the expected response is not forthcoming from the authorities to the representations made by the Association on matters of common concern.

The draft resolution No. 2 to file a Writ Petition in the Hon’ble Supreme Court to ensure that the Members of SCBA get all the facilities as are needed to enable them to perform their duties towards their clients, to ensure proper justice to them and to enforce their Fundamental Rights etc. is appropriate and I support it.  

However, I would like the Members of the Executive Committee as well as Members of the General Body of the Supreme Court Bar Association to reconsider the proposed Resolution No. 1 that Members will not participate in any Official Functions with Hon’ble Judges of the Supreme Court, including References, Independence Day and Law Day and not give any Farewell to Hon’ble Retiring Judges.

The Bar and the Bench are two co-ordinate institutions, often compared to the two wheels of a chariot, which acting together facilitate administration of justice to the people.  Institutional courtesy and traditional respect for each other should be maintained at all costs.

Grievances against individual Judges, if any, should not be projected as grievance against the Court in which the lawyers practise.  Individual Judges and lawyers come and go,  but the Bench and the Bar will go on forever.

The Rules made under Section 49(1)(c) of the Advocates Act, 1961 lay down Standards of Professional Conduct and Etiquette including the following:

“ Preamble: An advocate shall, at all times, comport himself in a manner befitting his status as an officer of the Court, a privileged member of the community, and a gentleman, bearing in mind that what may be lawful and moral for a person who is not a member of the Bar, or for a member of the Bar in his non-professional capacity may still be improper for an Advocate…..”

Section 1 Rule 2:  “An Advocate shall maintain towards the Courts a respectful attitude, bearing in mind that the dignity of the judicial office is essential for the survival of a free community.”

Section 1 Rule 1:  “An advocate shall, during the presentation of his case and while otherwise acting before a court, conduct himself with dignity and self respect.  He shall not be servile and whenever there is proper ground for serious complaint against a judicial officer, it shall be his right and duty to submit his grievance to proper authorities.”

Our Association is the Bar Association of the highest Court of the country which is looked upto by all other Bar Associations in the country for leadership.  Therefore, our Bar Association should be a  role model to others in the matter of observing traditional courtesies and maintaining traditional respect towards the Bench.

Kindly consider the implications of proposed resolution No. 1.  

1.         Full Court References to departed Judges are meant to place on record the gratitude of the Bench and the Bar to the service rendered by each one of the departed Judges and lawyers.  To boycott such References would amount to insulting the memory of departed Judges,  for no fault of theirs apart from affecting the prestige, dignity and credibility of the Bench and the Bar.

2          Similarly, Independence Day is the day of national rejoicing at which the National Flag is hoisted.   It is a Fundamental Duty of every citizen to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem.  I am of the considered view that it would be improper to boycott the Independence Day celebrations.

3.         Law Day was institutionalized on the initiative of late Dr. L.M. Singhvi when he was the President of our Bar Association.  He conceived the idea, promoted it, secured the collaboration of the Court and the Central Government.  He himself drafted the Law Day Charter which reminds all the members of the Bar annually of their commitment to the ideals of the Constitution, their duties to abide by the Constitution and strengthen the Rule of Law.  Do we boycott our own function?

4.        Farewell to a Judge by the Bar is a long standing convention which demonstrates institutional courtesy of the Bar towards the Bench.  I always try to attend every farewell function of a Judge without exception, even if I felt that a particular Judge did not deserve the honour.  So long as the person holds the judicial office, the chair deserves respect which extends incidentally to the incumbent.

I, therefore, earnestly appeal to all the Members of the Supreme Court Bar Association for whom I have greatest regard and for whose rights I have fought in my own way in the case of SCBA Vs. B.D. Kaushik, to reconsider the proposed Resolution No. 1 and not to pass the same.   Let us try our utmost to maintain the traditions of the Bar and dignity of SCBA.

I request you, Ms. Aishwarya Bhati, to kindly circulate this email to all Members of SCBA immediately to enable them to consider my views before taking a decision at the meeting on Wednesday, the 8th instant.

Regards,

P.P. Rao

Dushyant Dave

Respected Mr. Rao,

Namaskar!

I write this email in response to your email addressed to Ms Bhati. First, Sir, I thank you for your positive affirmation that the Bar must get proper treatment and respect from the Bench. I am glad that you also feel the same way as we do in the Executive Committee and every Member of the Association does.

But the second part of your message is, with respects, disappointing. You have been the Leader of this great Bar and of all the persons, you know the acute needs of the Bar in terms of basic infrastructural facilities. I truly wish that instead of reminding us of our duties and obligations, which I humbly submit are totally irrelevant, you Sir, had reminded the Hon’ble Chief Justice and the Court officials of their duties and obligations towards the Bar and it’s Members. Your stature is such that you could have easily prevailed upon them to see the harsh reality in absence of decent facilities. You have and can meet the Hon’ble Chief Justice to bring about Just solution to this vexed problem.

You have been kept informed of each of these burning issues, including Designation of Seniors by the Court. I too have discussed them with you and you have always kindly offered me your ear and advise. So what prevented you Sir to do it this time for the Bar? Instead of this wise counsel to us, you could have picked up the phone and talked to the Hon’ble Chief Justice to sort out the issues. So why did you not, is very perplexing.

Afterall, you also feel for the Bar and would desire to help it, I would assume. I must put it on record that many Senior Advocates met me in last two days and some of them advised me to avoid confrontation with Judiciary. But I regret to inform that not one of them offered to use his or her good offices to resolve the impasse by offering to tell the Hon’ble Chief Justice to be kind to the Bar and offer the facilities. Why this approach I wonder?

Sir, I must add that My Executive Committee and I, love this Nation as much as you all do. We intend to celebrate Independence Day and Law Day, as in the past. But we will do it as a proud Bar, without the august presence of the dignitaries.

It is well known at the Bar that problems faced by Non Seniors are very different from those faced by Seniors, if at all Seniors face any problem. Sir, this struggle is not personal. It is for those thousands of Lawyers who cannot fight for their dignity and rights. I also have no quarrel with Hon’ble CJI, nor other Hon’ble Judges and certainly have no “personal scores “to settle. I must say I enjoy affection and warmth from each of them and I respect each of them too from the bottom of my heart. But as the President, I owe a lot to the distinguished Members of the Bar and I intend to fulfill my commitments to them fully, without fear and favour.

I, therefore, sincerely appeal to you Sir, to see the matter from the perspectives of this vast multitude of the Bar and not from the prism of a Senior alone. I respect you a lot and I know you have lot of regards for me too. Sir, please lend me and my Executive Committee your strength and stature in this avoidable, but forced upon Struggle of the Bar.

With Respects,
Dushyant Dave, President, SCBA