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Happy-ish ending: Arun Mishra J ‘apologises 100 times’ to ‘any living creature’ and ‘younger lawyers’ hurt by him

After Justice Arun Mishra apparently made contempt and swift conviction threats against recently-designated senior counsel Gopal Sankaranarayanan yesterday, much of the bar came to the latter’s defence.

(Much of the bar, except predictably the Bar Council of India (BCI), whose chairman Manan Kumar Mishra and co-chairman S Prabhakaran criticised the defenders and cried a river for the beleaguered judiciary in a press release (full copy here) (via LiveLaw): “A few members have been targeting the particular judge, frequently criticizing his every action/order. How far are we correct/ justified? Who will control the Bar?" Good question.)

In any case, the bench and the bar made peace today after a bunch of senior advocates - including Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Dushyant Dave and Mukul Rohatgi - trooped into Mishra’s court room 3 and brought up the matter of advocates living in fear of judges.

And, surprisingly, Mishra relented, for the most part, saying, according to LiveLaw:

“If anyone feels hurt, an animal or a tree even, am ready to apologise. I know you’re not seeking an apology but I do apologise to any living creature if I had caused any harm. Gopal Sankaranarayan is half of our age. Even to those much younger, I apologise a hundred times.

“I feel though that I have been targeted unnecessarily by some people and the media. I am under severe pressure. I deal with several matters. It is possible that I may have said something out of pressure.

However, this was not an unequivocal apology, with Mishra placing at least some blame on the bar:

We may go wrong at times. But not always. Arrogance is increasing in the Bar. It’ll be the end if proper behaviour is lacking on both sides. We are friends.

Our tolerance must not be construed as weakness. With such attacks, thinking straight and taking decisions becomes difficult.

We tried to console him [Sankaranarayan], have him lengthy hearing, but he projected as if he wasn’t heard. We just told him to not argue certain points. When 5 judges call, he must come. He was arguing very well but unnecessarily naming judges.

However, eventually, Mishra closed with an apology again: “I apologise with folded hands. I can die for the bar, which has given me more respect than judiciary.”

All in, this highly dramatic affair seems like it’s reached a much more amicable conclusion than most would have predicted...

Kudos to all involved.

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