Delhi HC Asks Ashok Arora and SCBA If Mediation by a Retired SC Judge Acceptable

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The Delhi High Court asked Advocate Ashok Arora, and the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), if they were open to mediation, by a retired Supreme Court judge to settle their dispute (Ashok Arora vs SCBA).

Brief Facts

Following Arora’s call for an Emergent General Meeting, to remove Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave from the post of SCBA President, the Executive Council of SCBA had suspended Arora from the position of the Secretary, with an immediate effect. Arora subsequently moved the High Court challenging the resolution. Last month, the High Court issued notice to SCBA and the Bar Council of India (BCI). It directed them to file their written statement in three weeks. Arora had filed a defamation suit against Dave, citing “mental torture” against him, from the time he got elected as the Secretary of the SCBA. 

Contentions

“It is acceptable, provided someone decides in a couple of days”, Arora said.

He informed the Court that the tenure of the present office-bearers comes to an end by December 10. Arora sought an interim stay on his ouster. He contended that his removal was void ab initio, as it was in violation of Rule 35 of the SCBA Rules. He pointed out that as per Rule 35, the power to suspend or expel a member was with the General House of the Association. The same gets determined after a commission held an inquiry into a misconduct case. The Executive Committee, as in the present case, had no power to suspend or expel a member, he stated.

Arora further argued that “All principles of natural justice were thrown to the wind” as the resolution on his removal got passed under the signatures of the “interested parties”, such as the Joint Secretary, Treasurer, etc. Referring to the letters, written by certain members of the Executive Committee to Senior Advocate Kailash Vasdev, Arora also alleged that the minutes were not correctly recorded. He also stated that in spite of the purported recusal of Dave, he continued to control the meeting.

“Electorate cannot be betrayed, which is the most important issue in this case”, Arora submitted.

Appearing for SCBA, Senior Advocate Arvind Nigam said that he would seek instructions on this aspect.

Court’s Decision

A Single Judge Bench of Justice Mukta Gupta was hearing Arora’s challenge to his removal from the post of Secretary of the SCBA. “After all, this is between the members”, the Court said, indicating that the challenge may then be disposed off. After hearing Arora at length, the Court proceeded to adjourn the hearing to September 7. As expected, SCBA and the Bar Council of India will begin their submissions on the next date.


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