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Calcutta High Court conducts late-evening hearing, orders release of lawyer arrested inside court [Read Order]

By Rintu Mariam      19 December, 2023 02:10 PM      0 Comments
Calcutta High Court conducts late evening hearing orders release of lawyer arrested inside court

After holding a late-evening hearing due to “unprecedented events” in Court, a division bench of the Calcutta High Court stayed an order which directed a lawyer’s arrest inside the court on charges of contempt of court. The order which directed the lawyer’s arrest was passed by Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay. 


“Taking clue from the celebrated observations of the Supreme Court as quoted above, and solely relying upon the statements made by the appellant in the said letter 4 narrating the events happened, we feel that it is a fit case where the interim protection is to be extended to the appellant being a Member of the Bar and of a legal profession. We, therefore, stay operation of the order dated 18th December 2023 by which the appellant has been directed to undergo a period of three days civil imprisonment until further order of this Court”, a Division Bench of Justices Harish Tandon and Hiranmay Bhattacharya said. 


The Bench was prompted to hold the hearing at 8:30 pm, on Monday, after Advocate Prosenjit Mukherjee wrote a letter to the Court seeking relief against his arrest. His letter stated that he was directed to be taken into custody and undergo for three days civil imprisonment. The order was passed despite tendering repeated unconditional apology before the Court. 


Though later he was released, he told the division bench that he apprehends that the order may, if implemented, put him in custody again. Owing to these reasons, the Court stayed the Single judge’s order. 


The Bench, in its order, also highlighted the importance of judicial restraint and discipline for judges while discharging their functions. 


“We are also not unmindful of the well settled proposition of law that the maintenance of purity of administration of justice so as to uphold the independence of the judiciary is a sole task of the Courts. The Court should also maintain a judicial restraint and discipline as necessary to the orderly administration of justice as they are all to be effectiveness of the army. The duty of restraint humility should be constant theme of our Judges. This quality in making a decision making process is as much necessary for the Judges to command, respect as to protect the independence of judiciary. (See Prakash Singh Teji vs. Northern India Goods Transport Co. (P) Ltd., reported in (2009) 12 SCC 577, para – 16.”


In the order, the Bench also observed how advocates should act without fear or favour, while protecting the interest of their clients. 


“We are not unmindful of the fact that one of the foremost duty cast upon the lawyer is to uphold and protect the interest of his client fearlessly by all fair and honourable manner. Any inhibition in presenting the case of his client or to protect his interest before the Court of Law and Equity shall not bring the health judicial system nor such system see a growth or development so that the posterity may be benefited thereby. The lawyers assist the Court and bring the true and correct facts touching or concerning the issues, which is highly expected from such noble profession as suppression of material facts are viewed seriously by the Court. The reliance upon the order of Division Bench cannot be perceived a contumacious act nor would tarnish the majesty and sanctity of the Court”


Earlier, the Calcutta High Court Bar Association had unanimously resolved and requested the Chief Justice of the High Court to withdraw all judicial work from Justice Gangopadhyay.

The letter which was addressed to Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam, the Bar Association said that it had passed a unanimous resolution in this regard "after the extreme insult meted out to advocate Prosenjit Mukherjee." The letter stated that no member would step into Justice Gangopadhyay’s court unless he "apologises".


"Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay on 18.12.2023 in course of hearing of a matter, whereby His Lordship by holding Sri Prosenjit Mukherjee, the Ld. Advocate, guilty of Criminal Contempt and disrobed him in the open Court and sent him to Civil Prison in the custody of the Ld. Sheriff from the Court Room through the corridor of the High Court. The reason apparently is according to His Lordship the demurer of Sri Mukherjee while showing an order of the Hon'ble Division Bench, which modified His Lordship's order was improper and contemptuous. Even without any order Mr. Mukherjee, the Ld. Advocate was taken into custody from the Court Room without giving any opportunity of hearing”.

 

[Read Order]



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