Gujarat High Court presses Criminal Contempt Charges on Gujarat High Court Advocates Association’s President Yatin Oza for Making Derogatory Statements

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On 09.06.2020, the Gujarat High Court issued a notice of criminal contempt to Mr. Yatin Oza. This was for the reason that he made derogatory statements against the High Court and its Registry. The same was made during a press conference.

Background

The Gujarat High Court took a suo moto cognizance against Mr. Yatin Oza. He is a senior advocate and president of Gujarat High Court Advocates Association. Later, after the findings, the High Court issued a criminal contempt notice to him. This notification is in the wake of irresponsible, sensational and derogatory remarks by Mr. Oza.

The Derogatory Remarks Made by Mr. Oza

The Court discussed that Gujarat is one of the most affected states due to COVID-19. Earlier during the normal days, there were approximately 7000-8000 people on the campus. As a result, the physical functioning of the Court has stopped for the betterment of all people. But Mr. Yatin Oza made various statements against High Court and its Registry at a live press conference.

He alleged that the Registry of High Court practices corruption. He questioned the credibility of the High Court administration. Furthermore, he indirectly made scandalous remarks against certain judges. Not only this, but he also said that junior lawyers failed to get their matters listed. However, prominent industrialists and rich people get their orders in two days. Thus, Court works for prominent industrialists, wealthy and influential people. Moreover, in his interview, he specifically mentioned that

If the litigants want to file any matter in the High Court they can. But the person has to be either Mr Khambhata or the builder or the company.

This got circulated in Gujarati daily Sandesh with the title “Gujarat High Court has become a gambling den – Yatin Oza“.

Court’s Observations

The Court said that he made these remarks without any substantive basis. He did not conduct an inquiry to know the truth. He also did not approach Chief Justice for inquiry. The Court said that 5039 matters listed before the High Court. A number of 3147 matters registered before the High Court. Moreover, the Court listed 8182 matters and disposed of 4057 matters. These matters are mainly of people with “extremely meagre” means. Thus, Mr. Oza has crossed all the limits. The Court again reiterated that he made these statements without knowing the truth.

The Court said both bar and bench work together in these extraordinary times. But he made all the attempts to create doubt in the administrative system. As a result, the Court referred to the provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act. Particularly, the Court placed reliance on Section 2(c), 14, 15, 17 and 20 of the Act.

Also, under Article 215 of Constitution, the High Court has the power to punish for contempt of itself. Thus, the High Court has exercised these powers to maintain the dignity of a Court.

Court’s decision

After analyzing the circumstances, the Court said that he made scandalous remarks without any basis. Hence, the Court charged him with criminal contempt under Section 2(c). Furthermore, the Court took cognizance against him under Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act. The Court has also put the matter before the Chief Justice of High Court.

The Bench also stated that he has previously faced similar proceedings under the Contempt of Courts Act before the Hon’ble Supreme Court. At that time, the Court accepted his unconditional apology and closed the case. The Court said,

We are at pain to notice that nothing changed


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