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Bombay HC judge moves for contempt over allegation her husband offered favourable ruling for Rs 25 lakh

Bombay HC: Hot turf
Bombay HC: Hot turf
Bombay high court Justice Roshan Dalvi has been accused of corruption by producer Sanjay Punamiya in a nine-page complaint, alleging that her husband Shamim Dalvi told his lawyer in March that for Rs 25 lakh he could get his wife to pass a favourable order in the case before her, reported the Mumbai Mirror exclusively on Thursday.

In an order uploaded to the Bombay high court's website yesterday, Justice Dalvi responded with a show cause notice to the producer and his lawyer as to why they shouldn't be hauled up for criminal contempt.

Punamiya was before Justice Dalvi as a defendant in a Mumbai property matter against the Kuwaiti royal family. On Wednesday, in open court before Justice Dalvi in the case, one of Punayima's counsel, OD Kakde instructed by her retained counsel Nilesh C Ojha, raised the allegation and said that Punamiya's complaint of corruption against her had been filed with Bombay's chief justice, the Chief Justice of India (CJI), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Anti-Corruption Bureau and the President of India.

Kakde therefore asked the Justice Dalvi to recuse herself from the case.

Justice Dalvi
Justice Dalvi
The complaint alleged that Punayima's lawyer was introduced to an advocate by another advocate, who in turn said he was close to Justice Dalvi and could facilitate a favourable order, introducing Punayima's lawyer to Justice Dalvi's husband, Shamim Dalvi, who is a legal consultant. They met on 19 March, according to the complaint.

The Mumbai Mirror reported that the complaint stated: "Shamim Dalvi told the applicant (Punamiya) that he will have to pay an amount to get a favourable order. Mr Dalvi asked the applicant and an advocate, Nitin Parikh, to meet another advocate in a day or two.

"In order to get a favourable order, the applicant will have to make an application under Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code and the rest would be done by Mrs Roshan Dalvi if the applicant deposits Rs 25 lakh."

In her order dated 7 May, which was uploaded yesterday, Justice Dalvi wrote that the written complaint of 5 May made "false, defamatory and contemptuous statements against the Court and two other officers of this Court", and told Ojha and Punayima to show cause why criminal contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated against them.

Recounting the background, she wrote:

The allegations and statements in the complaint show the complainant having been approached with an offer for corrupting the Court from his acquaintance since 11th March, 2014. It shows how the complainant met that acquaintance on 12th March, 2014 and thereafter had meetings on various dates in the month of March with regard to his allegations of corruption. Despite these meetings and his case of corruption, the complainant never made any complaint until 5th May, 2014 after he was served the notice of the plaintiff's application for ad interim relief on 2nd May, 2014.

According to the order, an enclosure in the complaint purporting to contain details of calls between Punamiya and others, were missing, so Justice Dalvi asked Punamiya and his lawyers to fetch the enclosures, accompanied by a police officer. However, the lawyers later stated that the call records were not yet available, as they were in the process of being obtained from Vodafone.

Justice Dalvi wrote in her order that it was "clear" that the annexes were non-existent, and she added that the conduct of Punayima's lawyers amounted to an offence under section 228 of the Indian Penal Code - "intentional insult or interruption to public servant sitting in judicial proceeding" - carrying a possible prison term of up to six months.

Justice Dalvi said that Ojha had also filed another complaint against a division bench in a criminal writ petition, asking the bench to recuse itself.

Citing the strongly-worded Sahara judgment from earlier in the week, she wrote that the "Supreme Court was also the recipient of a similar, nay more insidious, practice of the litigant" (counsel asking the bench to recuse itself), which the Supreme Court had dealt with in "profound prose" and "poetry", according to Dalvi.

Additional inputs by Bapu Deedwania, who freelances for the Mumbai Mirror

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