New Delhi: Under constant attack from a group of lawyers for delivering certain judgments in favour of the ruling dispensation, Justice Arun Mishra has held that making personal attack on the judges and attributing political motives on their rulings are "contempt of gravest form".
Justice Mishra was apparently singled out by the four most senior judges in the unparalleled press conference of January 2018 where issues were raised on assigning some politically important cases selectively to some benches, including the one he headed then.
At that time, several crucial cases, including Judge Loya's case, had been assigned to the bench headed by Justice Mishra.
Authoring a verdict on behalf of a bench also including Justice Vineet Saran, Justice Mishra has now come down heavily upon a group of lawyer, who he said, are hungry of "cheap publicity" and think they are above the Bar Council.
"It has been seen from time to time that various attacks have been made on the judicial system. It has become very common to the members of the Bar to go to the press/media to criticise the judges in person and to commit sheer contempt by attributing political colours to the judgments. It is nothing less than an act of contempt of gravest form," maintained the judgment.
Justice Mishra added that whenever any political matter comes to the Court and is decided, either way, political insinuations are attributed by unscrupulous persons or advocates.
"Such acts are nothing, but an act of denigrating the judiciary itself and destroys the faith of the common man which he reposes in the judicial system," he rued.
According to the judgement, in case of genuine grievance against any judge, the appropriate process is to lodge a complaint to the concerned higher authorities for a proper scrutiny.
"It is impermissible to malign the system itself by attributing political motives and by making false allegations against the judicial system and its functionaries," emphasised Justice Mishra, adding judges who are attacked are not supposed to go to press or media to ventilate their point of view.
Disapproving of attempts to influence judgments by engaging into debates and statements in the press, Justice Mishra said that to cater to the press distorted versions of the court proceedings is
sheer misconduct and contempt of court which has become very common.
"It is not open to wash dirty linen in public and enter in accusation or debates, which tactics are being adopted by unscrupulous elements to influence the judgments and even to deny justice with ulterior motives," he held.
Justice Mishra appealed to the Bar Council and the senior members of the Bar to rise to the occasion to
maintain the independence and fairness of the lawyers.
The Court order came on a case resting to validity of Madras High Court rules that empowered the HC to debar a lawyer over misconduct. The top court quashed this rule in its judgment.
Justice Mishra was dragged in the controversy after the four most senior judges accused then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra of sending cases of national importance "selectively" to some benches of “preference".
In several hearings thereafter, Justice Mishra called himself a "junior judge".
As the controversy lingered on and questions were raised why the petitions relating to death of CBI judge BH Loya was listed before Court No.10, he pulled himself out of this matter.
As far as judicial powers are concerned, all judges of the apex court hold equal authority and the CJI is 'first among equals' only in terms of his administrative authority.
While in the past, several important cases, such as Coal block allocation scam, 2G scam, Bofors, Babri demolition, Rajiv Gandhi assassination, Gujarat's Best Bakery, have been heard by the judges not in the first five courts, the charge against the then CJI was that many of the high-profile cases had been sent to "select" benches, including the one headed by Justice Mishra.
Justice Mishra was a part of the bench that dismissed two PILs, which had questioned the role of CJI Dipak Misra in the medical college admission scam, and sought an independent probe. One of these petitions was dismissed with a penalty of Rs 25 lakh.
Justice Mishra's bench had earlier dismissed a petition for investigation into Sahara-Birla diary and the alleged pay-off. A 2G scam related case was also shifted to Court No.10 from a bench led by Justice Chelameswar. His bench also affirmed appointment of KV Chowdary as the CVC.