New Delhi: Judges are not "fearful saints" and cannot be intimidated or insulted and they have to be "fearless preachers" to preserve the independence of judiciary which is necessary for the survival of democracy, the Supreme Court said on Friday.
The apex court said this in its judgment upholding the conviction of an advocate for criminal contempt of court for misbehaving and attempting to assault a chief judicial magistrate in Allahabad in 2012.
"The judiciary is one of the main pillars of democracy and is essential to peaceful and orderly development of society. The judge has to deliver justice in a fearless and impartial manner. He cannot be intimidated in any manner or insulted by hurling abuses," a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said.
"Judges are not fearful saints. They have to be fearless preachers so as to preserve the independence of the judiciary which is absolutely necessary for survival of democracy," the bench, also comprising Justice Navin Sinha, said.
The bench said that an advocate is duty bound to act as per the higher status conferred upon him as an officer of the court and he plays a vital role in preservation of the society and justice delivery system.
"An advocate has no business to threaten a judge or hurl abuses for judicial order which he has passed. In case of complaint of the judge, it was open to the advocate to approach concerned higher authorities but there is no licence to any member of the Bar to indulge in such undignified conduct to lower down the dignity of the court.
"Such attempts deserve to be nipped at the earliest as there is no room to such attack by a member of noble profession," it said. The bench said the role of a lawyer is indispensable in justice delivery system and he has to follow the professional ethics and maintain high standards.
It said a lawyer has to assist the court, defend the interest of his client and give due regard to his opponent and also to his counsel.
"What may be proper to others in the society, may be improper for him to do as he belongs to an intellectual class of the society and as a member of the noble profession, the expectations from him are accordingly higher. Advocates are held in high esteem in the society," it said.
The bench said the dignity of court is in fact dignity of the system and the act committed by the lawyer in this case was not only improper but required "gross condemnation".
It said the advocate's act amounted to criminal contempt of court and the Allahabad High Court has noted that the lawyer concerned did not apologise and has maligned and scandalised the subordinate court.
The high court had imposed on the advocate simple imprisonment for six months with fine of Rs 2,000 and in default to pay fine to undergo jail for 15 days. Considering the nature of misconduct committed by the lawyer, the apex court upheld his conviction for criminal contempt and modified the sentence.
It said the sentence of imprisonment for six months shall remain suspended for further period of three years subject to his maintaining good and proper conduct with a condition that he shall not enter the premises of the district court Allahabad for a further period of three years in addition to what he has undergone already.
The period shall commence from July 1, 2019 and end June 30, 2022, the bench said, adding in case of non-violation of these conditions, the sentence after three years shall be remitted.
The bench said sentence of imprisonment may be activated by this court in case it is found that there is breach of any condition made by the advocate during the period of three years.