SC temporarily restores senior designation of lawyer

SC temporarily restores senior designation of lawyer for two years

The top court said it will be for the high court to take a final call whether his behaviour is acceptable

Supreme Court. Credit: PTI file photo

The Supreme Court Thursday temporarily restored for two years the senior designation of a lawyer, which was withdrawn unanimously by a full bench of the Gujarat High Court last year for his alleged remarks against the court and its registry.

Observing that it respects the views of the high court but still endeavour to give “one more and last chance” to the advocate, the apex court said it is the high court that will watch and can best decide how he behaves and conducts himself as a senior counsel without any further opportunity.

“We are of the view that the ends of justice would be served by seeking to temporarily restore the designation of the petitioner (Yatin N Oza) for a period of two years from January 1, 2022,” a bench of Justices S K Kaul and R S Reddy said in its judgement delivered on a plea filed by the advocate.

The top court said it will be for the high court to take a final call whether his behaviour 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 said.

It said that in effect, the fate of the petitioner is dependent on his appropriate conduct as a senior counsel before the high court, which will have the final say.

“All we are seeking to do is to 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,” it said.

The bench noted that this is not the petitioner’s "first-run" in with the high court or for that matter the apex court and the problem appears to be that he does not seem to keep a balance between his role as a senior counsel and as the president of the bar association of the high court and, thus, crosses the ‘Lakshman Rekha’ repeatedly.

It said the high court had objected to the maintainability of the plea filed by the petitioner under Article 32 of the Constitution and it was submitted that what has been withdrawn is a ‘privilege’ and not a ‘right’.

“We respect the views of the high court but still endeavour to give one more and last chance to the petitioner. In a way this can really be done by recourse to Article 142 of the Constitution of India as there is merit in the contention of the counsel for the high court that there is no real infringement of the fundamental rights of the petitioner,” the bench noted.

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