The Supreme Court Tuesday declined to entertain a plea by Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association (GHAA) president and senior advocate Yatin Oza challenging the contempt notice issued to him by the High Court.
“We are not actually inclined to hear it… we feel it should go back to the Gujarat High Court,” Chief Justice SA Bobde said. Senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Arvind Datar appeared for Oza.
On June 9, a division bench of the Gujarat HC initiated suo motu criminal contempt proceedings against Oza for raising “accusing fingers… against the high court, HC administration and the registry…” The action came largely in the backdrop of a press conference conducted by him and the order of the division bench took note of five broad allegations that Oza levelled, such as “corrupt practices being adopted by the registry of the High Court of Gujarat”, “undue favour” shown to “high-profile industrialist and smugglers and traitors”, that the HC functions “for the influential and rich people and their advocates,” and that “billionaires walk away with order from the HC in two days whereas the poor and non-VIPs suffer”. The HC also noted Oza calling the institution as “a gambling den”, in this regard.
The SC bench also comprising Justices M R Shah and A S Bopanna Singhvi said that the Oza had only commented on the functioning of the registry and not on the judicial functions and that the HC “order was passed in anger”.
The bench did not seem impressed, following which Singhvi sought to withdraw the petition, which the SC allowed.
In a letter addressed to Gujarat HC Chief Justice Vikram Nath on June 5, Oza alleged that “at least 100 advocates” had approached either him or the general secretary of GHAA, advocate Hardik Brahmbhatt, with the grievance that their matters had not been listed despite being filed a fortnight ago. Oza went ahead to allege the registry of “nepotism and favouritism”.
In another letter on March 21, addressed to Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, Oza made allegations against a sitting judge of “no effective order passed in a single matter”, while also accusing advocates of “forum shopping”, including advocate general Kamal Trivedi.
These allegations were further reiterated in a press conference held by Oza live-streamed over Facebook.
Purvish Malkan, advocate on record for Oza’s special leave petition, told this paper, “The SC was of the view that since Oza is yet to file his reply at the Gujarat High Court, it would be appropriate that the same is done first and is taken up by the HC, before approaching the SC.”
“If the Gujarat HC passes an order against him (after his reply), he can approach the SC…,” added Malkan.
Advocate Kruti Shah, who is representing Oza at the Gujarat HC has sought two weeks to file a reply to the High Court’s notice. The matter is expected to be taken up next on July 1.
(Inputs from ENS, Ahmedabad)
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