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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

‘Muted’ at Justice Mishra’s farewell, Supreme Court Bar head Dushyant Dave complains to CJI

Dave defended Advocate Prashant Bhushan in the criminal contempt case, which was heard by a bench led by Justice Arun Mishra.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: September 4, 2020 9:02:23 am
'Muted' at Justice Mishra's farewell, SC Bar head Dushyant Dave complains to CJI(From L-R) Justice Arun Mishra, CJI S A Bobde and senior Supreme Court lawyer Dushyant Dave.

ALLEGING THAT he was “kept on mute” during the online farewell ceremony for Justice Arun Mishra, who retired on Wednesday, Senior Advocate and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Dushyant Dave has said “the Supreme Court has come to such levels where the Judges are afraid of the Bar”.

Supreme Court sources said the confusion happened due to “technical issues”.

Expressing his “strong disappointment and condemnation”, Dave, in a letter to Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, said the “whole attempt was to prevent me from addressing on behalf of the SCBA and its EC (Executive Committee), after having invited, and invitation having been accepted”. Saying that he was “deeply saddened by this event”, he said he would “keep away from SC-organised events” till his term ends in December.

“I must confess, the Supreme Court has come to such levels where the Judges are afraid of the Bar. Please do remember, Judges come and go but we, the Bar, remain constant. We are the real strength of this great institution because we are permanent,” Dave said in his letter.

Dave defended Advocate Prashant Bhushan in the criminal contempt case, which was heard by a bench led by Justice Arun Mishra.

“The entire episode leaves much to be desired on the part of this great institution,” Dave said, adding that it “was clearly an affront to the Bar and to me personally”.

“While you may have done so fearing that I might say something unpleasant, let me tell you exactly what I was to say, which I had written down… I was to say, ‘On behalf of the SCBA, the EC and myself, I wish you, Justice Mishra, happiness and bliss in the remainder of your long life, which by all accounts will be as fruitful and rewarding as it has been. May I pray to Lord Mahabaleshwar to bless you with strength to introspect and stir up your conscience.’ This was to be my message,” Dave said in his letter.

On the last working day, the outgoing judge sits with the CJI bench, as a matter of custom, and members of the Bar convey their farewell wishes.

So, on Wednesday, Justice Mishra sat with the CJI, and was wished by Attorney General K K Venugopal, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi and Supreme Court Advocates On Record Association (SCOARA) president Shivaji Jadhav.

Though Dave too was logged in, he was not seen/ heard speaking and apparently exited before the event ended.

He later sent a letter to the CJI. “As president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, I wish to place on record my strong disappointment and condemnation at what happened earlier today in the Supreme Court of India during the farewell to Justice Arun Mishra,” he said.

Dave said he got the link “this morning, at 10.06 (am) to join the Ceremonial Bench of the Chief Justice of India at 12.30 pm from the Team SCI VC (Supreme Court of India Video Conferencing), and which was sent on WhatsApp by the concerned Registrar”.

He said he “responded at 10.16 (am) accepting it, which was acknowledged by the Registrar at 10.18 (am)”, and he “joined through the link around 12.20 pm and was confirmed by the team saying video and audio were perfect”.

“I then had conversations with the AG, SG, President SCORA among others. Once the Court assembled, I saw and heard all the proceedings clearly. At the end, Mr Rohatgi bid farewell. After Court work, Mr Venugopal was requested to speak and I saw and heard him fully, including as to his disappointment on punishment of Shri Prashant Bhushan.

“When he ended, I thought that I will be requested to speak, instead Mr Jadhav was requested, knowing full well that I was present. For some unknown reasons, I was being disconnected again and again, but I persisted and rejoined each time. I saw and heard Shri Jadhav fully and at the end of his address, again I was not requested to speak, though Shri Jadhav has acknowledged my presence in his address,” he said.

“After that, Your Lordship spoke, which I saw and heard, and then invited Justice Mishra to speak. At that stage, realising the gameplan, I exited in the larger interest of the dignity of the Bar and myself,” Dave said in his letter.

“But what is most important is that I messaged the Secretary General on WhatsApp at 12.49 (pm) and again at 12.53 (pm) asking why I was kept on mute and why was I invited at all. Only at 1.02 (pm) he responded, saying he is instructing the Registrar to look into it, by which time it was too late, and so I messaged him informing that I had exited,” he said.

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