On July 21, the Full Court of the Gujarat High Court from a meeting on July 18 announced that a decision had been made to consider and recall the appointment of Oza. The GHCAA has applied to the Supreme Court to overturn the decision of the Gujarat High Court and to withdraw his previous appointment as Attorney General (Yatin Narendra Oza v. Supreme Court).
Facts of the Case
On June 7 The Gujarat High Court issued a suo moto criminal contempt notice to the President of the Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association (GHCAA) Yatin Oza in light of him making “scurrilous remarks” against the High Court and its registry, on June 5 during a live conference on Facebook. During his live conference Oza levelled the following accusations against the High Court and its Registry:
- Corrupt practices are being adopted by the Registry of the Gujarat High Court;
- Undue favour is shown to high-profile industrialists and smugglers and traitors;
- The High Court is functioning for influential and wealthy people and their advocates;
- The billionaires walk away with orders from the High Court in two days whereas the poor and non-VIPs need to suffer;
- If the litigants want to file any matter in the High Court, the person has to be either Mr Khambhata or the builder or the company.
The Court believed that Yatin Oza had behaved most recklessly by levelling false, irresponsible, intemperate, and contemptuous allegations of corruption and malpractices against the High Court’s Administration, and The Court decided to strip him of his designation as a Senior Advocate.
Yatin Oza has submitted that the notification issued by the High Court of Gujarat on July 21, notifying of a unanimous decision of the Full Court (Chamber) taken in its meeting on July 18 divesting him from the honour and privilege of ‘Senior Advocate’ is violative of Article 14, 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution. The petitioner has also challenged Rule 26 of the High Court of Gujarat Designation of Senior Advocates Rules, 2018 as ultra vires to Article 14 and 19 of the Constitution of India.
Oza, in his plea, said that he expresses his genuine regret for some emotional utterances, and reiterates it. However, he does believe that his conduct does not warrant withdrawal of his designation as Senior Advocate, mainly since it is not in any manner relating to or connected with the discharge of his professional duties and which would, in any case, be hugely disproportionate.
The bench comprising Justice Sonia Gokani and Justice NV Anjaria observed that the 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 to the Head of the Institution.
As the Bar President has by his scandalous expressions, random, as well as baseless utterances have attempted to cause severe damage to the prestige and majesty of the High Court and thereby of an independent judiciary, and also tried to lower the image of the entire Administration and created demoralizing effect amongst the Administrative wing, this Court in the exercise of powers conferred under Article 215 of the Constitution of India, prima facie finds him responsible for committing the criminal contempt of this Court within the meaning of Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act and takes cognizance of such criminal contempt against him under Section 15 of the said Act.
Furthermore, because of COVID-19, the Court was of the opinion that it was not the time where the bar and the bench could afford to divert their energy in any kind of bickering and are duty-bound to work together and discharge their responsibilities in a positive atmosphere.
On July 21, a Full Court of the Gujarat High Court notified that a decision had been taken to recall the senior designation of Oza. He was removed from the position of senior advocate, and they observed that Rule 26 empowers a Full Court of the High Court to divest an advocate of his Senior Advocate designation if he is found “guilty of conduct” which the Court feels disentitles the advocate to continue being worthy of the Senior Advocate designation.
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