The Delhi High Court has taken suo moto cognizance of alleged contemptuous conduct by a lawyer who made personal remarks against judges and posted derogatory comments in the chat box during virtual court proceedings.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta remarked that such actions undermine the integrity of the judiciary and cannot be tolerated.

One of the comments, which was reproduced by the single judge in the order, criticized the court's speed in hearing his cases and implied that justice could not be served by a fearful judge.

The controversy unfolded on May 9 when the Court issued a show cause notice to the lawyer, seeking an explanation for his behaviour during the proceedings.

"..comments placed by the petitioner in the Chat Box during the course of proceedings through Video Conferencing on 06.05.2024 are patently contemptuous and interfere with due course of judicial proceedings to scandalize the Court and undermine authority of the Court, petitioner was directed to show-cause vide order dated 09.05.2024 as to why notice for contempt be not issued and contempt proceedings initiated against him and referred to concerned Roster Bench/Division Bench for consideration in accordance with law," the Court had said.

On May 15, the Court examined the lawyer's response and found it to be grossly contemptuous, lacking any substantive explanation for the offensive comments made in the chat box.

The Court observed that the lawyer's conduct indicated a pattern of lodging complaints and defaming judges of the District Courts whenever adverse rulings were handed down against him.

The Bench opined, "...reckless allegations made against several Judicial Officers of the District Courts as well as the comments placed by the petitioner in the public domain in the Chat Box have grave implications and potentiality of mischief, if the same are not curbed with a firm hand." It said that the allegations imputing motives and intemperate language have been intentionally used to scandalize the proceedings undertaken by the District Courts and the High Court.

"The same tends to bring the authority and administration of justice into disrespect, and tantamounts to contempt. Petitioner appears to have taken a wrong end of law, aggrieved against adverse orders passed by the Judicial Officers of the District Courts as well as this Court and cannot be permitted to cross the red line, thereby making personal attack on the Judges which undermines the integrity of the Institution," the Single-Judge Bench said.

Consequently, the Court directed the Registrar General to submit the records of the judicial proceedings to Acting Chief Justice Manmohan for referral to the relevant Division Bench responsible for handling criminal contempt cases. The lawyer has also been directed to appear before the Division Bench on May 16 to address the charges brought against him.

"Registrar General is directed to place the records of the judicial proceedings before Hon’ble the Acting Chief Justice for referring the matter to the concerned Hon’ble Division Bench handling ‘criminal contempt’. Petitioner is also directed to appear before the concerned Hon’ble Roster Division Bench on 17.05.2024. Registry is accordingly directed to register the present case as “Court on its own Motion v. Sanjeev Kumar”," the Court ordered.

Pertinently, on May 9, the Court had pulled up the lawyer for making contemptuous remarks. Petitoner’s comments were made just a day before his case was to be heard. When asked to explain his comments on May 9, he informed the Court that he would withdraw his review petition and approach the Supreme Court instead. The Court had noted that Petitioner, being a practicing lawyer, was expected to maintain decorum, but showed no remorse for his remarks and instead defended them. Earlier in January, his petition against a trial court's decision was dismissed, with a fine of Rs. 25,000 imposed on him. Subsequently, he had filed a review petition against that order.

Cause Title: Sanjeev Kumar v. State of NCT of Delhi & Ors.


Respondent: Advocate Meenakshi Dahiya (APP)

Click here to read/download the Order