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In a stern message to a lawyer for pointing fingers towards the apex court Registry on listing of cases, the Supreme Court on Thursday restrained him from practising as an Advocate On Record (AOR) for a month.
A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said contemnor Mohit Chaudhary has abused the privilege of being an AOR under the 2013 Supreme Court Rules and his conduct was "unbecoming" of an advocate.
It said the listing of cases was based on judicial directions and not determined by the Registry of the court.
"We are thus of the view that the appropriate course of action would be that the contemnor is not permitted to practice as an Advocate-on-Record, for a period of one month from the date of the order. A painful task had to be performed and is performed.
"We hope that both for the petitioner and other advocates who may consider the interest of the client paramount even to breach the ethical practice of the court, this would be a caution. We say no more," the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, said.
Justice Kaul, writing the judgement for the bench, said the contemnor has been practising since 2009 and was not a "novice" as he has been representing prestigious institutions, state governments and authorities, which proved that he was quite familiar with the practices of the court.
"He cannot be said to be oblivious to the fact that no bench is constituted by the Registry, but by the Chief Justice of this Court. Thus, in an indirect manner, an imputation was impliedly made even against the Chief Justice, though in the garb of a virulent attack on the Registry," the court said.
It said the contemnor took a conscious decision to be a "pawn" in the hands of the litigant, to "scandalise" the court and its Registry with the sole objective of achieving a bench shifting.
"It was clearly a commercial decision to sub-serve the interest of his client, even though, it would amount to false allegations and be unbecoming of an advocate," the bench said.\
The court also said that it is the duty of an advocate to put his best case for the litigant before the Court. However, this does not absolve him of the responsibility as an officer of the court as this is a "dual responsibility."
The top court said the fundamentals of the profession required an advocate not to be immersed in a "blind quest" of relief for his client. "The dignity of the institution cannot be violated in this quest as law is no trade, briefs no merchandise," it said.
Chaudhary on April 7 had mentioned a matter before a bench headed by the CJI and alleged that it was directed to be listed on that day itself but in a "manipulated way", it was listed before a special bench.
He was appearing for a firm in a slum redevelopment case and his matter was listed before a special bench of Justices Arun Mishra and S Abdul Nazeer.