Allahabad Aug 24(ILNS): The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on August 18, started contempt proceedings against the lawyer who called the judges ‘goondas’.
This order was given by a division bench comprising of Justice Rituraj Awasthi and Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh while registering a criminal contempt case in this case by taking suo motu cognizance.
The Court observed that we have to deal with a very unpleasant situation due to the outrageous and utterly contemptuous behavior of Advocate, Asok Pande, inside the Court on August 18 in the morning.
The facts which led to drawing these contempt proceedings are that as soon as the Court assembled in the morning, Asok Pande, Advocate came to the podium. He was in a civil dress with an unbuttoned shirt. When the Court asked him why he was not in uniform, he said that he had challenged the Bar Council Rules prescribing the Dress Code in a PIL filed by him, therefore, he would not put on the uniform.
He, however, said that he was appearing in person and therefore, it was not required for him to don Lawyers’ Uniform. The Court told him that he should at least appear in ‘decent dress’ if he was appearing in person. On this, he started questioning the Court that ‘what is the decent dress’.
The Court asked him to button his shirt, which he did not do. He created ruckus in the Court in the morning and the atmosphere of the Court got completely vitiated. He used intemperate language, indulged in indecent behavior amounting to gross misconduct and challenged the authority of the Court. His conduct was unbecoming a member of the legal profession. When he was warned that if he would not behave properly, the Court would have no option except to remove him from the Court, he challenged the Court and said that if the Court had power, it could remove him from the Court. He used abusive language against the judges and said that the Judges were behaving like ‘goondas’.
Two days back on August 16, 2021, when the Court took suo motu cognizance in respect of the Bar Association Election scheduled to be held on August 14, 2021, the Court was hearing the Returning Officer and Chairman of the Elders’ Committee of Awadh Bar Association, Asok Pande barged in the Court and came to the podium without uniform and started shouting on top of his voice, the Court noted.
When the Court asked him in what capacity he was addressing the Court, he said that he was a Member of the Awadh Bar Association and had every right to address the Court. When the Court asked why he was not in uniform, he said that would not don the advocate’s uniform as he had challenged the Bar Council Rules prescribing the Dress Code for Lawyers.
The Court said that the behavior and conduct of Asok Pande would show that he had committed ex facie contempt of the Court. He has a long history of misbehavior inside and outside the courtroom and committing contempt of the Court.
When Pande did not stop and continued to create an unpleasant atmosphere inside the Court and went on to disturb the Court proceedings amounting to an interference with the administration of justice and scandalizing the court, we called the Court Officer and the security to remove him from the Court room in order to maintain serenity and decorum of the Court proceedings, the dignity of the High Court and majesty of the law.
The Court ordered to keep him in custody till 3 PM so that he could come to Court and express his remorse and tender unconditional apology to the court for his outrageous behavior in the Court.
A senior member of the Bar Mohd. Arif Khan, Senior Advocate mentioned the matter, before Asok Pande arrived in the Court after 3 p.m. that the matter may be given a quorum if Pande could tender his unconditional apology.
The Court asked the Members of the Bar who would take responsibility for Asok Pande’s future behavior in the Court, no Member of the Bar came forward to guarantee his decent and appropriate behavior in the Court in the future. After release from custody at 3 PM, Asok Pande again came to the Court and instead of tendering an apology or exhibiting any remorse, he again tried to disrupt the Court proceedings.
The Court also observed that Asok Pande is habitual to instituting petitions either in his own name or in the name of the body, namely, Hindu Personal Law Board and repeated recourse to the jurisdiction of the Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is undertaken by him merely as a means of publicity and without any supervening cause or justification based on public interest.
The Court did not only dismiss the writ petition but Asok Pande was issued show-cause notice why he should not be proceeded against for committing criminal contempt under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
The Court further directed that the petitions filed by Asok Pande or in the name of Hindu Personal Law Board can be accepted only if it is accompanied by a Demand Draft of Rs.25,000/- drawn on a nationalized Bank. The Demand Draft should be drawn in the name of the Senior Registrar of the High Court at Lucknow.
It was further observed that if the Court found that the petition was a genuine effort to espouse the cause in the public interest, the Demand Draft would be ordered to be returned to the petitioner by the Court.
The Court also took notice of the fact that on numerous occasions, various Courts had found Asok Pande to have indulged in drafting pleadings that did not give credit to a member of the legal profession. The said writ petition was dismissed with costs of Rs.25,000/- which was payable to Uttar Pradesh Legal Services Authority.
The Court dismissed the application on the ground that he had absolutely no locus to address the Full Bench on the merits of the writ petition.
The Court noted that Asok Pande’s insulting behavior, anger, and revengeful attitude had obstructed the court proceedings. The Court had also noted that the writ petition was filed with the intention to insult the Judges, lower the dignity of the Court and obstruct the judicial proceedings.
We are drawing these contempt proceedings suo motu, finding prima facie the conduct, insinuation, and insulting behavior of Asok Pande, Advocate towards judges, and intemperate language used by him with an aim to disrupt the court proceedings and scandalize the Court and interfere with the administration of justice ex facie contemptuous.
The Court held that he has been habitual in making scandalous and scurrilous allegations against the Judges including the Chief Justices of this Court and even the Supreme Court Judges inside and outside the court. Despite the warning, he did not mend his ways and exhibited his belligerent behavior bringing down the majesty of the law and dignity of the High Court as such. Every attempt in the past has failed to correct his contemptuous conduct in the Court.
Even punishments have not deterred him, and any leniency has only emboldened him for indulging in contemptuous behavior, using intemperate and abusive language, insinuating, intimidating, and insulting the judges, and interfering with the administration of justice.
When the Bar Council of India has prescribed the ‘Dress Code’ in rules framed under Section 49 (I)(gg) of Act, a Lawyer cannot come to the Court not wearing the uniform and when he is pointed out he cannot say that since he has challenged the Bar Council Rules in PIL, therefore he would not wear the uniform prescribed by the Bar Council of India.
“In view thereof, we hold that Asok Pande has prima facie committed ex facie contempt of court during the court proceedings on August 18, 2021, which amounts to scandalizing and lowering the authority of this Court and interference with due course of judicial proceedings and, it also has a tendency to interfere or obstruct the administration of justice”, the Court observed.
“Besides initiating these contempt proceedings, we direct the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh to examine the past conduct of Asok Pande, Advocate, detailed above in order to decide whether such a person is worthy of being part of the noble profession, and take appropriate disciplinary proceedings against him. Let a copy of the order be sent to the Uttar Pradesh Bar Council for compliance, ” the court ordered./ILNS/AP/KR/SNG