The Supreme Court, today, in the suo moto matter concerning the manhandling of Senior Advocate Gaurav Bhatia in the Gautam Budh Nagar District Court, condemned the lack of functioning of CCTVs in the district court and issued notice to the State Government in this regard and also remarked that no lawyer can enter the court and ask another lawyer to leave on grounds of a strike.

The District Judge submitted a report to the Court stating the reasons for the non-availability of the camera footage of the alleged incident.

The Bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra observed “ The Report which we have received from the Shri Avnish Saxena…District Judge, Gautam Budh Nagar, be circulated to all the learned counsels of the parties…The report indicates that the CCTV footage is not available because the CCTV cameras in the courts are not functional. Moreover, it has been stated that several written (requests) have been made by the High Court, the administration has not provided funds for the maintenance of the CCTV cameras. We direct that notice shall be issued to the State of Uttar Pradesh in these proceedings…We will keep it next Monday.”

“There is no remorse, there is no regret and this lawyer has not been identified.” Senior Advocate Vikas Singh told the Bench.

The Bench remarked “Mr Agarwal and Mr Vikas Singh, also there is another aspect which we would like to follow up because you have not seen the report of the District Judge. In his report, he said that the CCTV was not there and I cannot produce the CCTV footage because there was no maintenance by the Government of the CCTV cameras in the court. The High Court has written repeated letters to the administration to provide and sanction funds and budget. The budget has not come, therefore, all the CCTV cameras are not functional.”

Senior Advocate Adish Aggarwala suggests “Throughout India, a direction may be given.”

CJI remarked, “Even if they have apologised, we are not going to take it lightly because this(act of) entering the court asking the judge to desist from doing the judicial work, and saying that we are going on strike, don't do judicial work…please inform your client…we are going to take a dim view of this because no lawyer can enter the court and ask the other lawyer to leave the court on the ground of strike.”

The Supreme Court, previously, had taken note of the manhandling of Senior Advocate Gaurav Bhatia in the Gautam Budh Nagar District Court and issued notice to the President and Secretary of the Janpad Diwani Evam Faujdari Bar Association.

Senior Advocate Vikas Singh had mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, who directed the registration of a suo motu petition over the incident which took place in the district court where lawyers were on a strike. Singh told the Apex Court that lawyers allegedly misbehaved and snatched the collar band of Bhatia. A woman lawyer had also appeared before the bench and claimed that she was also manhandled in a different court while appearing in a matter.

The Apex Court had directed the District Judge, Gautam Budh Nagar to ensure that the CCTV footage of the incident is in safe custody pending further orders and also ordered that a report be submitted on the incident.

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) had also condemned the misconduct of a lawyer in the Gautam Budh Nagar district court against Bhatia.

Cause Title: In Re: Assault On Two Members Of The Supreme Court Bar Association At District Court Complex, Gautam Budh Nagar (SMW(C) No. 3/2024)