The Supreme Court on Tuesday convicted a lawyer for contempt of court for alleging that SC judges were unfit to decide which advocate should be designated ‘senior’ as they only conferred this status on judges’ relatives.
During the course of arguments on a writ petition filed by an NGO questioning the process for designating advocates as ‘seniors’, the petitioner NGO’s office-bearer and lawyer Mathews Nedumpara annoyed a bench of Justices R F Nariman and Vineet Saran by alleging, “Judges of the court are wholly unfit to designate persons as senior advocates, as they only designate judges’ relatives as senior advocates.”
In its judgment, the bench recorded the offending conversation and said, “On being asked whether such a designation should be granted as a matter of bounty, Nedumpara took the name of Fali S Nariman. When cautioned by the court, he took Fali S Nariman’s name again. “Thereafter, on being questioned by the court as to what the relevance of taking the name of Fali S Nariman was, he promptly denied having done so.” The bench said Fali Nariman’s name was taken “to browbeat the court and embarrass one of us” and added that Nedumpara’s arguments included such as “lawyers, like judges, are immune from contempt; there can be no defamation against lawyers”.
The bench added, “Conduct of this kind deserves punishment which is severe. Though we could have punished Nedumpara by this order itself, in the interest of justice, we issue notice to him as to the punishment to be imposed upon him for committing contempt in the face of the court. Notice returnable within two weeks from today.” Nedumpara later said he will move an application for recall of the order .