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Tis Hazari judge pleads for mercy after SC flak

Mercy,my lords,” pleaded Delhi’s Additional District Judge Archana Sinha in open court on Tuesday.

You have no business to touch an SC order… you should resign,bench tells Additional District Judge Sinha

Mercy,my lords,” pleaded Delhi’s Additional District Judge Archana Sinha in open court on Tuesday.

A seasoned judge at the Tis Hazari courts,Sinha looked confident in the morning. She had not imagined that the hearing before Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sundha Misra of the Supreme Court might lead her in tears.

ADJ Sinha was summoned by the Supreme Court to explain how she had dared to “disobey” the Supreme Court in a property-related case.

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The case is simple: Uddham Singh Jain Charitable Trust in 1992 refused to vacate the premises located in Central Delhi,rented out to it by Atmaram Builders a decade ago. The latter went to court in 1993 and won the case for re-possession of the property in 2004.

Four years later,in 2008,the Trust lost its appeal when the Delhi High Court confirmed the civil court’s verdict. The matter then reached the Supreme Court,which on October 6,2010,upheld the earlier judgments and concluded that the tenant,the Trust,should leave the premises by April 4,2011.

On April 23,2011,a “brother” of an office-bearer of the Trust moved ADJ Sinha’s court,claiming he was co-tenant and had a right to be heard,too. Sinha promptly “stays” the SC order,bringing Atmaram Builders back to the apex court.

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On Tuesday,the Trust,represented by senior lawyers Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Mukul Rohatgi,sought an adjournment and a hearing post the summer vacations in July.

Justice Katju,in reply,gave them “exactly one hour” to vacate the property,saying the Supreme Court “cannot be mocked”.

“Tenant should have vacated by now. We are sending you to jail… vacate by 12.30 am,” the bench said.

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At half-past noon,the court took up the matter again,asking senior advocate Dushyant Dave if the premises had been vacated. The court got a positive reply.

Then the bench turned its attention to ADJ Sinha,who was present in the courtroom on receipt of a contempt notice sent on April 25.

“You are not fit to be a judge,you should resign immediately. This is the limit… an ADJ disobeying and overruling a Supreme Court order… You have no business staying a Supreme Court order,” the bench said.

Senior advocate Jayant Bhushan,appearing for ADJ Sinha,defended that “given the circumstances,this was a bonafide order”.

“Oh,you think we are wrong. An Supreme Court order cannot be infructuous. We will suspend you,if not terminate you,” the bench told the visibly shaken judge standing in the aisle.

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“I am sorry… I have learnt from my mistake,” ADJ Sinha pleaded,asking for mercy.

“No mercy. You have no business to touch an SC order,” bench said,quashing her stay order as “malafide and void”.

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“We feel really ashamed by the allegations against the subordinate judiciary,” said Justice Katju,who after a pause added,“we were about to suspend you,but we have a heart.”

Dave,however,interjected saying that there is a “history” behind Sinha’s official conduct.

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“Had it been someone from the executive,you would have sent him to jail. Please send a strong message in this case,” the senior lawyer said.

The bench,in its order,referred ADJ Sinha’s case to the Delhi High Court Chief Justice for inquiry and action.

First published on: 11-05-2011 at 12:43:30 am
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