One More Chance After The Last Chance - Supreme Court Temporarily Restores The Senior Designation of Yatin Oza
A two-judge Bench of Justice SK Kaul and Justice R. Subhash Reddy has temporarily restored the senior designation of Yatin Narendra Oza, counsel with many years standing and Ex-President of the Bar Association of the High Court of Gujarat.
Earlier, the Full Bench of the Gujarat High Court had withdrawn, unanimously, the privilege of the 'Senior's Gown.'
The Petitioner approached the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India.
It was alleged by the Gujarat High Court that the Petitioner had made certain utterances in 2006 against two named Judges, casting aspersions on their faith and their allegiance to the Constitution of India and the laws; claiming that they had instead mortgaged the same with the political powers that be at that time.
This was followed by an issuance of notices of contempt against the Petitioner and two orders were passed commenting upon the conduct of the Petitioner, which were expunged by the Supreme Court earlier. The apology of the Petitioner was accepted along with an undertaking.
After this, the Petitioner again indulged himself in making certain derogatory remarks against a senior-most Judge of the High Court in the capacity of the President of the Bar Association. He also circulated a letter on the social platform by calling High Court "A Gambler's Den," followed by a Press Conference.
The apology of the Petitioner was found to be not genuine and was labeled as a repeated behavior of what would amount to "slap, say sorry, and forget". Since the statements issued by the petitioner caused huge damage to the Court and could not be repaired by the apology, the same was not accepted. The privilege of the gown was subsequently withdrawn.
The Petitioner had expressed an unconditional apology for his remarks before the Apex Court.
The Petitioner even gave an undertaking before the Apex Court that he will never contest elections to Bar Associations again.
The Court held that one more and last chance must be given to Petitioner and invoked Article 142 to pass directions.
"We are of the view that the ends of justice would be served by seeking to temporarily restore the designation of the petitioner for a period of two years from 1.1.2022. It is the High Court which will watch and can best decide how the petitioner behaves and conducts himself as a senior counsel without any further opportunity," the Court observed.
The Court further held that it will be the final call of the High Court to take into consideration whether the Petitioner's behavior is acceptable, in which case the High Court can decide to continue with his designation temporarily or restore it permanently.
"Needless to say that if there is any infraction in the conduct of the petitioner within this period of two years, the High Court would be well within its rights to withdraw the indulgence which we have given for two years which in turn is predicated on the assurances given by the petitioner and his counsel for the immaculate behaviour without giving any cause to the High Court to find fault with his conduct," the Bench opined.
Additionally, the Court asserted, "In effect, the fate of the petitioner is dependent on his appropriate conduct as a senior counsel before his own High Court, which will have the final say. All we are seeking to do is to 8 give him a chance by providing a window of two years to show that he truly means what he has assured us. We can only hope that the petitioner abides by his assurances and does not give any cause for the High Court or for us to think otherwise."
In the light of these observations, the Court disposed of the Petition.