The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the District Judge (Headquarters) to file a report in relation to the trial court proceedings on sentencing of a lawyer who was convicted for assaulting a retired district court judge when she was an advocate.

The High Court's direction came after being informed by the retired judge that two sitting district judges were present on the dias when the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) was conducting the proceedings in the matter.

A Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta wondered how two other district judges could be present in the courtroom when a particular Court was being conducted.

This has come as a surprise to us. So let us see and let them (district judge headquarters) respond, the Bench said.

The High Court was hearing a petition by retired district court judge Sujata Kohli seeking to initiate contempt proceedings against advocate Rajiv Khosla for allegedly interfering with the administration of justice after he was convicted for assaulting her when she was a lawyer and argued that no convict should be allowed to browbeat and bully the court.

After hearing the submissions of Kohli, the bench called for the entire trial court record, including the recording of the hybrid hearings held on November 27 and 30, 2021, as well as the CCTV footage of those dates in relation to inside and outside of courtroom No. 38 of Tis Hazari Court.

We also consider it appropriate to call for a report from the concerned District Judge (Headquarters) in relation to the above mentioned proceedings in view of the averment made in the present contempt petition. Let a copy of the present petition be transmitted to the concerned District Judge (HQ) along with a copy of the direction issued by this court today. List the matter for further proceedings on March 24, the Bench said.

Kohli submitted that there was nothing personal left in the matter and she has filed the present contempt case in furtherance of her duty as a citizen of this country.

The High Court had earlier asked the former judge to place on record the relevant CCTV footage of the alleged incident in order to enable the court to form a prima facie opinion in the contempt case.

On October 29 last year, a trial court had convicted Delhi High Court Bar Association's (DHCBA) ex-President Rajiv Khosla in the assault case for offences punishable under Sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the India Penal Code (IPC).

Complainant Sujata Kohli had alleged that Khosla grabbed her by her hair and dragged her in August 1994.

The former judge, in her petition before the high court, claimed that the trial court proceedings on the issue of sentencing were literally hijacked and obstructed by Khosla and his supporters.

What follows after conviction is very sad and unfortunate. There were a series of acts done by the convict, an officer of the court and a leader of the Bar, Kohli had told the court.

She had alleged that after his conviction, Khosla made an appeal to the Bar bodies to join him and they sided with him while deciding to go on a strike. She had stated that Khosla's conduct was also objectionable inside the courtroom.

She has urged the court to call for the entire trial court record including the recording of the hybrid hearings on sentencing.

The convict/respondent (Khosla) has, by publication of material on social groups etc, collected mob support to strike work to boycott the concerned court and to be physically present with huge numbers of lawyers/ leaders in the courtroom, shouting slogans standing on chairs, calling the particular judge on his face as 'biased' and calling '95 per cent of judges as being corrupt', the petition said.

All the acts and words of the convict/respondent in protest of the judgment of conviction, scandalised the court, lower down its dignity in the public eye and was calculated to do so, it was meant to shake the faith of the people at large, in the judicial institution, it added.

The petitioner/complainant/victim by the present petition seeks initiation of contempt proceedings against the convict/respondent, who by a series of acts and words has directly interfered with administration/ dispensation of justice, has interfered with the due process of law, has scandalised the court on its face, leaving the court totally helpless (and) desperate, the petition said.

The petition questioned if a convicted Bar leader and his supporters have an inherent right to derail the entire court proceedings and bring them to a halt .

Chaos had erupted in a courtroom in Delhi's Tis Hazari court on November 30 last year with lawyers chanting slogans and standing atop tables and chairs as they awaited the pronouncement of order on sentencing in the assault case.

After the argument and chanting of more slogans, CMM Gajender Singh Nagar had directed Khosla to pay a total compensation of Rs 40,000 to the state and the victim in the case.

After the pronouncement of the order, lawyers had chanted slogans of Vakeel Ekta Zindabad and Rajiv Khosla Zindabad and applauded.

Kohli, who was a lawyer at Tis Hazari court at the time of the incident of assault, went on to become a judge in the Delhi judiciary and retired as a District and Sessions Judge in 2020.

With PTI inputs