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Lawyer points out SC judge had met a litigant; Judge orders disciplinary complaint via bar councils

From Eternal Mewar News website
From Eternal Mewar News website

On 18 February 2016, Supreme Court judge Justice Ranjan Gogoi passed an order referring the conduct of an advocate to the Bar Council of India (BCI) and the Delhi bar council for “taking up appropriate action in respect of” conduct that “cannot be appreciated”.

Advocate Mrinal Kanti Mandal, appearing for the appellants in the 2012 civil appeal Yogeshwari Kumari and Ors vs Lake Shore Palace Hotels Pvt Ltd & Ors, had asked for Justice Gogoi to recuse himself from hearing the case, since Gogoi had allegedly met members of the respondent company’s management in May 2015.

According to the order by the bench of justices Gogoi and Prafulla C Pant:

Shri Mandal persisted to his attempts to mention and with reference to certain photographs pointed out that this Bench should not hear the matter. We have perused the photographs wherein one member of this Bench (Ranjan Gogoi, J.) along with his family had visited City Palace Museum, Udaipur which is a center of tourist attraction.

It is understood that the photograph, which is from the in-house magazine of the Mewar family dynasty also available online from May 2015, shows Gogoi and his wife visiting The Durbar Hall Sabhagaar of Udaipur’s Fateh Prakash Palace, which is a property of the respondent company, where they were reportedly greeted by Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, who is the executive director of a respondent affiliate company according to his Linked-in profile, as well as by another executive related to the company.

The court’s order, however, implied that Gogoi would himself have realised from the case record during the normal course of hearing if there was a conflict and would have recused himself, and stated:

We do not see why the learned counsel should have pointed the said fact inasmuch as upon reading of the case record when the matter would have been called out in the normal course the learned judge, if he feels any incapacity or inconvenience to deal with the matter would have recused himself.

The submission made by the learned counsel proceeds on certain presumptions that the learned judge who visited City Palace Museum, Udaipur was aware or made aware subsequently of the pending litigation; that the litigation is pending in his Court; and that the learned judge had been spoken to by the opposite party (the respondents).

The order added, with only Justice Gogoi apparently taking responsibility this last paragraph:

The conduct of the learned member(s) of the Bar cannot be appreciated. I (Ranjan Gogoi, J), therefore, refer the matter to the Bar Council of Delhi and the Bar Council of India for taking up appropriate action in respect of the above conduct of Shri Mrinal Kanti Mandal.

It is understood that the Delhi bar council’s disciplinary committee has asked Mandal to respond to the notice.

On 25 February and yesterday (2 March) the order was mentioned for hearing again before Justice Gogoi by senior advocate Jaideep Gupta but Gogoi said he would not hear the matter until the outcome of the bar council decision.

Mandal was not reachable for comment.

Gogoi orders bar councils to take action (PDF)

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