Updated: March 4, 2022 8:19:06 am
Terming it surprising that two other district judges were present in a courtroom when a Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Tis Hazari court was to pass a sentence against a senior bar leader in November last year following his conviction in a criminal case, the Delhi High Court Thursday called for a report from the principal district judge headquarters and the record of the trial court including video footage.
“It is unusual for other judicial officers to remain present on the dais when a court is conducting its judicial proceedings. This has come as a bit of a surprise to us,” said the division bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta while hearing a contempt petition filed by former District and Sessions Judge Sujata Kohli.
More than 27 years after Kohli, then a lawyer, was assaulted by former president of the Delhi High Court Bar Association Rajiv Khosla, he was convicted in October 2021. The lower court in the judgment observed that more often, police are “very slow” in taking action when it comes to lawyers and held Khosla guilty for offences punishable under IPC sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 506(i) (criminal intimidation).
While the incident took place on August 5, 1994, the case came before the court on July 7, 1995. Kohli, a lawyer since 1987, was practicing from her seat near the bar association library at Tis Hazari Lawyer’s Complex. In 1994, Khosla along with a mob of lawyers allegedly surrounded her and then pulled her hair, dragged her, twisted her arms, used abuses and also threatened her.
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After he was found guilty in the case, Kohli in the petition before the High Court claimed that Khosla used contemptuous words against the chief metropolitan magistrate who convicted him and a mob of lawyers was present in the courtroom to obstruct proceedings when the sentence was to be passed.
The division bench on Thursday said it considers it necessary to call for records of the trial court, including the record of video conferencing or hybrid proceedings of November 27 and 30, 2021, as well as CCTV footage of these dates, in relation to courtroom 38 of Tis Hazari Court from both within and outside the courtroom.
“We also consider it appropriate to call for the report from the principal district judge headquarters concerned in relation to the above mentioned proceedings in view of the averments made in the present contempt petition. Let the copy of the present petition be transmitted to the principal district judge headquarters along with the copy of directions issued by this court today forthwith,” said the court.
Kohli in her petition also alleged that two other lower court judges had to remain present in the courtroom of the CMM when the sentence against Khosla was to be passed. “That is the most shocking part. They were there on the dais, one to the left and one to the right. They remained there for almost one hour and they addressed the convict as ‘Khosla sahab, we are family’. What about the victim in the system? Where will she go if you all are family,” she submitted on Thursday.
The court will hear the case on March 24. On February 8, it had termed the matter serious and observed, “We consider any contempt in the face of the court very seriously”.
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