Taking cognizance of the matter on a reference letter sent by ACJM Amit Kumar Prajapati, the Court imposed a punishment of simple imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 2000 each on the guilty advocates and also barred them from entering the court of Sonbhadra for six months for abusing and misbehaving with the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate of Sonbhadra in 2013.
According to the reference letter the ACJM was conducting judicial work, when the contemnor advocates entered the courtroom and enquired as to how the court is working when a strike call had been given by the advocates. When the ACJM told them that the court could never be on strike and those wanting to work cannot be forced to shun the same, the guilty advocates resorted to sloganeering, use of abusive language thus obstructing the functioning of the court. A serious charge was also levelled against the ACJM without any substantial justification in respect of the judicial order passed by him in granting interim bail ignoring the resolution passed by the body of advocates that the order was passed in league and collusion with accused person.
The High Court held that the suggestion that the advocates were on a strike cannot be a justification for alleged misbehaviour. The Court relying on Supreme Court rulings in Common Cause (A Registered Society) vs. Union of India and Others (1995) 5 SCC5, Indian Council of Legal Aid and Advice vs. Bar Council of India (1995) 1 SCC 732 among others held that a call, which has the effect of paralysing judicial function ex facie, amounts to a direct interference in the administration of justice and is a ‘criminal contempt’ under Section 2(c) of the Act, 1971. The Court further held that though it did not intend to lay down any code of conduct for advocates but certainly do not hesitate in observing that no advocate has any business to condemn a judge by abusing etc. If there is any lacking on part of a judicial officer touching his integrity, advocates may not remain silent spectator, but should come forward in appropriate manner before the proper authority. But there cannot be a license to raise finger over competency and integrity etc. of a judicial officer, casually or negligently, or on other irrelevant grounds.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF ALLAHABAD
Contempt Application (Criminal) No. 12 of 2013
Decided On: 02.07.2015
Appellants: In Re: Mahendra Prasad Shukla Advocate and Ors.
Hon'ble Judges/Coram:Sudhir Agarwal and Dinesh Gupta, JJ.