On Monday, the Gujarat High Court took away the Senior designation of Advocate Yatin Oza, who is the President of Gujarat High Court Advocates Association.
Earlie, the Court had initiated contempt proceedings against him over his remarks against Judges in a Facebook live video.
The Full Court meeting held on July 18 decided to review and recall the decision taken on Oct 25, 1999 to grant him designation of Senior Advocate.
Oza on the other hand has decided to challenge the decision in Court. “I will fight it in Court”, he said.
Earlier, a month ago, taking objection to Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association (GHAA) President raising “accusing fingers…against the High court, High Court Administration and the Registry by irresponsible, sensational and intemperate delivery in an interview,” the HC registered suo motu criminal contempt proceedings against Yatin Oza.
A division bench of Justice Sonia Gokani and Justice NV Anjaria issued a notice to Oza under Section 17 (that deals with procedure after cognisance) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
The Notice is returnable by June 16 and in the interim, the court has asked Oza to restrain from making “any scandalous remarks or holding official meeting and passing any resolution or circulating any material or communicating directly or indirectly either himself or through others in relation to the subject matter of contempt.”
The matter has been directed to be placed for further hearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice Vikram Nath.
The division bench headed by Justice Gokani also placed before the Chief Justice, for consideration at the hands of the full Court, whether to divest Oza of his stature as a ‘senior counsel’.
Oza had conducted a Facebook live press briefing on June 5, wherein he had alleged favouritism by the court and its administration for “lawyers of billionaires”. Prior to that, Oza had also written to the Chief Justice’s office, seeking physical reopening of the courts.
The bench noted that the administrative arm of the HC had accommodated virtual proceedings in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially since Ahmedabad has seen the highest mortality rate in Gujarat, and while the change may not have found “favour at some quarters”, “genuine grievances were being examined”.
“…the president of the bar Association behaved in the most reckless manner. He levelled false and contemptuous allegations of corruption, malpractices against the administration of the High Court,” observed the order of the bench.
The court observed that Oza’s media Facebook media briefing, as GHAA president, was aimed “ostensibly to espouse the causes of Junior advocates and those litigants having no or less means, and made serious allegations of corruption against the registry and also categorically alleged Forum shopping in no uncertain terms without any valid , significant or true basis. He thus, with frivolous grounds and unverified facts targeted the Registry of the High Court…He has thereby questioned the very credibility of High Court Administration and raised fingers at some of the Honourable Judges indirectly with scandalous remarks…”
“The President in his “complete consciousness and with total responsibility“ as declared by him in his interview called this August Institution a ‘Gambling den’ and an Institute which caters only to the litigants with means and money power, smugglers and those who are traitors.
He also, for spreading sensationalism declared by his scandalous utterances that those who are not belonging to the Big industrial houses or construction Industry or having innumerable means, the High Court would kick them away. These scurrilous remarks appear to have been made without any substantive basis and without any intent to know the truth as also without approaching the Honourable the Chief Justice for any inquiry as the Head of the Institution,” the court noted.
The court noted that from March 24 to June 8, the Gujarat HC had seen 5,039 total matters filed, 3,147 matters registered, 8,182 listed and 4,057 matters disposed of, “where majority of them are of those who are having extremely meagre means.”
The court noted that “riding on the wave of populism,” Oza appeared to “have crossed all limits by condemning recklessly the Institution,” openly challenging the “authority of this court in the very interview which is even worse than the very action.”