‘Contempt threat’ to lawyer: Justice Mishra apologises

New Delhi: Supreme Court advocates requested Justice Arun Mishra today to be patient in dealing with lawyers after the judge warned a lawyer of contempt while arguing a land acquisition matter two days ago.

A battery of senior advocates, led by Kapil Sibal, Mukul Rohatgi, Abhishek Singhvi and Supreme Court Bar Association president Rakesh Khanna, mentioned this issue as soon as a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah assembled in court number 3 for the day’s proceedings.

The issue has cropped up as Justice Mishra, who is heading a five-judge constitution bench hearing land acquisition matters, had warned senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan on Tuesday of contempt while he was advancing his arguments in the matter.

After the advocates mentioned the issue, Justice Mishra, while making it clear that he respects the bar more than any other judge, said if anybody had felt aggrieved, he was apologising for that.

”If anybody has felt anything at any point of time, with folded hands, I am apologising,” Justice Mishra said.

Sibal told Justice Mishra both the bar and the bench had the duty to maintain decorum in the court and the mutual respect should continue.
Singhvi said the bonhomie and ambience in the court should be maintained and there should be respect among the bar and the bench.

Justice Shah told the lawyers the respect should be mutual and said when the bench called upon Sankaranarayanan on Tuesday to continue his arguments, he ”blatantly refused”.

Rohatgi told the bench that young lawyers were ‘fearful’ in coming to this court and this affects the younger members of the bar.

”I am more associated with the bar. From me, you can take it that bar is the mother of the bench. I respect the bar like anything. From the core of my heart, I am saying that please don’t have that impression in your mind,” Justice Mishra said.

Justice Mishra said he did not have any grudge against anybody and he had never drawn any contempt against any lawyer during his career of around 20 years as judge.

The judge, however, said arrogance was ‘destroying this great institution’ and it was the duty of the bar to protect it.

”The court is not being addressed properly nowadays. So much attack is made. This is not proper and this needs to be avoided,” Justice Mishra said.

He said lawyer should refrain from making personal comments against anybody while arguing their case.

Justice Mishra said that though he had always been criticised throughout his career, he has always supported the Bar.

Khanna told the bench that independence of judiciary and bar was very important and there was a need to maintain mutual and cordial respect among the Bar and the Bench.

At the fag end, Justice Mishra told the SCBA president to ask Sankaranarayanan to meet him and said he was a very intelligent and brilliant lawyer and he wished him a very bright future.