Exclusive: The Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) executive committee (EC) called on lawyers to boycott the court’s additional judge Valmiki Mehta today, for his allegedly excessive imposition of costs on an unprecedented scale in matters before him, and for passing “brusque remarks” against “some senior lawyers”.
However, some general body members of the association opposed the “humiliating” view.
In a notice dated 18 December, displayed in the Delhi HC premises, the DHCBA EC stated that it will also address a representation against Mehta’s extension or confirmation on the roster, to the collegium of judges including the chief justice of India and of the Delhi HC.
“There is a growing tendency amongst the Hon’ble judges of our Hon’ble High Court of imposing costs in the pending litigation without there being any cause that warrants such a denigrating measure”, wrote the EC, adding, “The brusque remarks emanating from these benches for some senior lawyers of the Bar are demeaning not just for the individual but they lower the image of the institution in the eyes of the litigants and the public at large”.
It has been specifically noted that Hon’ble Mr Justice Valmiki Mehta presently on the original side, is excessively harsh in imposing costs on an unprecedented scale, on the litigants and his Lordship’s demeanour on the bench has been wanting of this august office.
Despite requests and representations to the Hon’ble Chief Justice and personal meetings with successive Chief Justices by the Office Bearers of the Executive Committee, which in no case would go unnoticed there is no sign of any carminative effect.
Conspicuously it looks like that the Bar as a whole can be subjected to the caprices of any “knight errand” despite the fact that it always conducts its business as prudent officers of the Court.
Mehta who enrolled at the bar in 1982 and was designated a senior advocate in 2001, became an additional judge of the Delhi HC in April 2009. Cases before him that were recently widely reported include a defamation matter against Google and its subsidiaries filed by a Christian organisation, The Zee-Jindal dispute, and STAR India’s copyright claim in the T20 world cup cricket matches broadcasted this year.
30 matters, including 16 freshly mentioned ones, were listed before Mehta today, in court number 19 of the Delhi HC.
Advocate Rahul Gupta, who was also appearing in a matter listed before Mehta today said: “This decision was taken without taking the general body of the association [DHCBA] into confidence. Here is a judge who is really doing a great job. This judge is particularly meritorious, very knowledgeable, very hardworking and very competent. But everyone has their own temperament problems. Lawyers could not go and attend their cases in his court because of a few handful of people.”
“The decision has been taken under the influence of one particular executive member of the bar association [DHCBA] with political lineage,” he added, commenting that he found the move “extremely humiliating”.
Another Delhi HC lawyer, who did not wish to be named, told Legally India that a number of DHCBA general body members opposed the decision because of the manner in which it was taken.
Another advocate @s_Navroop who was due to appear in a matter before Mehta tweeted about the situation today: “[…] the Court hall was blocked by chairs where Bar Members sat and didn't allowed anyone to go inside. It was a tamasha [to]day.”
DHCBA secretary Mohit Mathur, who was the undersigned in the notice, was not reachable for comment at the time of going to press.