A single-judge bench of the Jharkhand High Court, on Wednesday, ordered to initiate Criminal Contempt of Court proceedings against Advocate General Rajiv Ranjan and Additional Advocate General Sachin Kumar for making remarks against Justice Sanjay Kumar Dwivedi.
The top government lawyers had sought recusal of Justice Dwivedi, who was hearing a case related to the suspicious death of a woman Sub-inspector of Police Rupa Tirkey, as during the previous hearing they had overheard Counsel of the petitioner telling their client that the case will be entrusted to CBI.
Tirkey's suicide at her residential quarter at Sahebganj on May 3 had created political outrage and her father had sought investigation by CBI in the case, by filing the petition in June. Besides the issuance of Suomotu contempt against the Lawyers, the Registrar General was directed to issue notices to both of them and the probe was entrusted to the CBI.
In one of the earlier hearings held in the case, the AG had told the Court that, "after the virtual hearing was over on August 11, the microphone of the petitioner's advocate remained on and he was telling his client that the decision of the matter was bound to come in his favour and a CBI inquiry is fixed 200 per cent in this case." The Judge has asked the lawyer to file an affidavit on this, but he replied that his oral statement is sufficient. Then the Court initiated the contempt proceedings.
"When the counsel for the applicant is making such a claim, the Bench should not hear the matter," the AG had said. According to the contempt petition, the AG had 'behaved without respect' for the Court while seeking the Judge's recusal and had also refused to file an affidavit despite being asked, saying his oral submission was sufficient. It was also alleged that the AAG misbehaved in the Court with Counsels for the opposite party.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the AG and AAG, had submitted that it would be in everyone's interest not to initiate contempt case against them. "We tender an unconditional apology for this, but when it comes in writing, it will come on the record of the court," Sibal said.
To this, the Bench said, "Can the Advocate General behave like this in the Court? The question has not only been raised on the judge, but on the judicial institution. Affidavit should be filed in this matter." The Bench, recording the statement of the Advocate General, had referred the matter to Chief Justice Dr. Ravi Ranjan who again sent the matter to the Bench of Justice SK Dwivedi for hearing.
The death of the woman police official has taken a political turn when opposition BJP and tribal rights group sought an independent inquiry after the name of Chief Minister Hemant Soren's aide cropped up in the case.
Initially, the Jharkhand Police came up with the conclusion that the lady officer had ended her life due to harassment by her colleague who was later arrested in the case. However, Tirkey's father Devanand Oraon alleged that his daughter was murdered and filed a petition seeking a CBI probe. He alleged the involvement of Pankaj Mishra, an assembly representative of CM Soren, and one Dahu Yadav in the case. The lady officer was harassed by her colleagues at the instance of Mishra as she did not manage cases as wished by Mishra.
The government has constituted a one-member judicial commission presided over by a former HC Judge to inquire into the allegations.