CJI lost his temper: Senior lawyer

September 25, 2016 03:09 am | Updated November 01, 2016 08:44 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

“Chief Justice Thakur made ‘uncharitable comments’ about my conduct as a lawyer,” he says

“It is the duty of a lawyer to tell the judge where there is a failure of justice and due process.”

This is how senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, known to be both an eloquent and effectively abrasive lawyer in the Supreme Court, explained the confrontation he had with a Bench led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur on Friday in a short bail hearing for Sahara chief Subrata Roy.

Mr. Dhavan, in a written statement, said Chief Justice Thakur made “uncharitable comments” about his conduct as a lawyer.

Quotes a phrase

Scripting a rare incident of a senior advocate confronting the Chief Justice of India for “losing his temper,” Mr. Dhavan quoted an oft-repeated phrase that “justice is not a cloistered virtue and must suffer the scrutiny of ordinary persons.”

“People in high places have enormous power and the duty to use it wisely is forbearance,” Mr. Dhavan said in his statement.

Mr. Roy had suddenly found his liberty slipping on the edge of a precipice when his lawyer Mr. Dhavan ticked off a Bench led by Chief Justice Thakur by questioning its fairness.

Chief Justice Thakur, who was on the previous day taken ill, later said the Bench merely wanted to adjourn the hearing on bail for another day, but Mr. Dhavan’s remarks were more than it could bear.

As a result, an irate Bench had ordered Mr. Roy and his two directors, on parole since May, to be taken back into custody.

‘Orders unbecoming’

“The CJI was convinced that Sahara’s parole should be continued because Rs. 300 crore has been deposited. The CJI lost his temper and passed an order ordering my client back to jail. I remonstrated that he had passed the order in a temper and this was not fair … Orders passed in a temper, especially when all conditions are fulfilled, are both inappropriate and unbecoming,” Mr. Dhavan said.

Respect for the judiciary

He said it was respect for the judiciary, “the institution which I have studied since 1970 and practised regularly since 1992,” that made him act in the best traditions of justice on Friday.

Later in the day, Chief Justice Thakur told senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who had sought an unconditional apology for Mr. Dhavan’s conduct, that a lawyer could not “browbeat” judges.

“We too have a threshold to our tolerance. You cannot go on browbeating judges. We do not demand respect, but some respect has to be shown to the institution,” Chief Justice Thakur had said in open court.

Mr. Roy’s parole has been extended for a week.

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