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

From Eternal Mewar News websiteFrom 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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Like +12 Object -5 TJ 03 Mar 16, 09:59  interesting  controversial
From a era where the judges used to recuse upon a mere request, we have reached another end of the era where the judges refuse to recuse. This is another end of the spectrum where request for recusal is (not in so many words but to the same effect) considered contemptual.

One of the pillar of the principles of natural justice is that justice should not only be given but also appear to be given. Similar principles follow from settled law on 'rule against bias' which is now given a constitutional status in as much as curative petitions are permitted on this ground.

It appears that the law on judges recusal awaits a categorical restatement.
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Like +10 Object -5 Excuse 03 Mar 16, 18:42  interesting  controversial
Air India has several matters pending in the Supreme Court and some also before the present judge in question. So, does that mean that the judges should recuse themselves from hearing any of these matters before them because they get the hospitality of the government?

The same judge in question also likes to drink tea, specifically the Tata Tetley Tea. So, does that mean that he should recuse himself from all matters of Tata before him, because he drinks their tea.

Talking about 'era' - judicial discourse or judicial wisdom has no era, the only thing that should be kept in mind is to not to make the courtroom into an 'opera'.
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Like +0 Object -1 Seema Sapra 03 Mar 16, 10:50
I was told by DHCBA President Rajiv Khosla that in a matter where he was appearing, Judge Valmiki Mehta of the Delhi High Court also issued contempt of court notice for a recusal request based upon the fact that the judge had been involved with the same litigation as counsel.
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Like +2 Object -0 RNR 03 Mar 16, 13:19
Hmm. I tweeted about Valmiki Mehta J. some days ago and here you point out about him Seema ji. That is fine. But don't venture into Gogoi J. territory. Not that you have. My take on recusants, written long ago:
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Like +0 Object -0 Seema Sapra 03 Mar 16, 15:36
Interesting list you have there. Almost all the cases you mention were very high profile matters with corporate or political entities involved.
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Like +1 Object -0 RNR 03 Mar 16, 16:07
I knew you would get it :)
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Like +1 Object -0 Guest 05 Mar 16, 09:43
In an unprecedented move yesterday, law lords accused their colleague Lord Hoffmann of acting as "a judge in his own cause" by failing to declare his close links with Amnesty International when he sat with four other judges to decide whether the Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, was immune from arrest and extradition.
The senior law lord, Lord Browne-Wilkinson, and four other law lords criticised Lord Hoffmann for flouting the basic principle that "justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done". The devastating criticism casts doubt over Lord Hoffmann's future as a law lord.

The judges accuse Lord Hoffmann of ignoring a basic judicial tenet learned by every student in the first year of law school. So well known is the rule, said Lord Hope, that no civil court in the United Kingdom has had a judgment set aside for a breach of it this century.

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In criminal cases the rule was even more important. "Judges are well aware they should not sit in a case where they have even the slightest personal interest in it, either as defendant or as prosecutor," Lord Hope said.

Lord Hutton said public confidence in the integrity of the administration of justice would be shaken if Lord Hoffmann's deciding vote that General Pinochet could be prosecuted was allowed to stand.
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Like +0 Object -1 Ab S 05 Mar 16, 11:44
I think the conduct of the judge in questions smacks of 'Your laadship' culture. I can understand that conduct of the lawyer in questions was clearly 'in-your-face', but a simple reprimand would have done the job. Referring the matter to the Bar Council is clearly excessive. I don't understand why judges have to behave in such a high handed manner in Court. Clearly, a judge can be firm without being obnoxious and there are various precedents in this regard. Somehow our judges feel that that must not only be rude and disrespectful but must also appear to be rude and disrespectful! Justice C.K. Thakker was a perfect gentleman yet a firm judge. His stature was such that nobody misbehaved in his Court. I hope we see more judges like him.
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Like +1 Object -0 Publicity stunt 07 Mar 16, 00:42
This was clearly beyond pointing out- Showcasing pictures in the court during mentioning rather than simply bringing it to the notice of the Judge are two different situations- this was more like an accusation -
Arguably one can say that the reaction was excessive but then lets think about it- Stuff like this becomes the easiest way to bully some of the tough judges into recusing! the logic being given is that if you have ever utilised services of any entity you cannot hear its matters - then it can be taken to extreme proportions also.
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Like +0 Object -0 Candid kumar 07 Mar 16, 13:34
How does name of ck Thakkar come in to be issued a certificate of apt ness ,what is the basis of assessment that Mr justice Thakkar was above- board or that the other one is not by just a case ,many judges are arrogant because undeserved authority usurped by the coolegium.The address as lordship and your honour should be done away with,they can just be served Sir and sir-ed in courts
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Like +0 Object -0 Are you serious 08 Mar 16, 21:27
Are you serious? Can't you see mischief played by lawyer(read his client). justice Gogoi one of the most erudite judge we have today. As you mentioned CKT, he is merely an academic. You can't compare dynamism of Gogoi with Thakkar. Gogoi roars not meow. His conduct according to me much above standards of integrity, his legal acumen par excellence.
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Like +0 Object -0 Dipak Shah 05 Mar 16, 18:47
When lawyer points out the fact , does it become a Comptemps . Conduct etc? When a Justice do complete wrong on record and against the provisions of aw , what about the oath taken for , FRee Fearless, Law Abiding, Constitution and impartial much more. When facts is written thi si s the result of telling TRUTH UNder Temple of Justice , WHERE TRUTH PREVAILS EVER???!!!
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Like +0 Object -0 Dazed and Confused 08 Mar 16, 15:02
Judges in a system without jury trials should meet a very high standard of probity in their conduct. If an apparent conflict is enough to warrant discussion of recusal in a jury-based system (and it is), then the standard for recusal should be even lower in India.

An advocate who possesses evidence of potential bias has an affirmative duty to the court to point this out, and would be committing malpractice on behalf of his client if he did not. If malpractice was a thing. Which it is. In some places.
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