JUDGE THREAT CASE
K.T. Sangameswaran IN THE HINDU
CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered the suspension of the membership of R.K. Chandramohan and consequently his Chairmanship of the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry (BCT) forthwith for an alleged attempt to influence a High Court Judge using the name of the then Union Minister A. Raja in a matter relating to an anticipatory bail plea.
In its 78-page common order on two public interest litigation petitions, a Division Bench comprising Justices F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla and M.M. Sundresh said that apart from attempting to influence the Judge R. Regupathi (since retired), Mr. Chandramohan was stated to have behaved, in the words of the Judge, in a very unruly manner in the open court.
The Bench said the petitioner should file a formal complaint, along with the High Court order, to the BCT within two weeks. He should file a complaint copy with the Bar Council of India (BCI) simultaneously. Mr. Chandramohan should not be permitted by the State Bar Council to function as chairman pending disposal of the disciplinary action by the BCI.
In a petition, the petitioner, Elephant G. Rajendran, sought a writ against Mr. Chandramohan directing him to explain under what authority he held the office as Chairman of BCT. In the other petition, he sought a direction to the BCI to initiate appropriate action against the BCT Chairman.
The petitioner submitted that an anticipatory bail application filed by a medical practitioner came up before Justice Regupathi on June 29 last year and Mr. Chandramohan appeared on behalf of the accused. During the hearing, the Judge stated that “a Union Minister had called me to exert influence in favour of accused and to release the petitioner/accused on anticipatory bail. You yourself know everything.”
The petitioner contended that Mr. Chandramohan’s conduct in casting aspersions against the Judge was gross contempt and interfered with the administration of justice. He had used the name of a Union Minister for achieving an illegal action. Therefore, he should be disqualified from the post.
Following a direction from the Judge, the High Court Registry produced a letter dated July 2, 2009, written by the Judge to the Chief Justice of Madras High Court in which he had stated that on June 12, 2009 while he was in his chamber, Mr. Chandramohan met him and said that two persons who were family friends of the Union Minister had filed the petition for anticipatory bail in a criminal case and it must be considered favourably. He also handed over his mobile phone saying that the Union Minister was on the line to talk to the Judge.
Right away, the Judge said, he discouraged such conduct and told Mr. Chandramohan that the case would be disposed of in accordance with law. On June 29, in the open court the advocate vociferously remarked that the court was always taking sides with the prosecution and not accepting the submission made by the counsel for the accused in the case while giving importance to the prosecutor. Later, the Judge directed the Registry to place the papers before the Chief Justice for posting the case before some other Judge.
In its order, the Bench said there was no reason to doubt the veracity of the Judge’s statement in the absence of allegations of ill will or mala fides against the Judge. The conduct of the BCI Chairman in having maintained silence in his counter affidavit went to show to a very large extent that in effect he admitted the allegations. He neither repented nor displayed any conduct of remorse. If really such an incident had not taken place, the first person to have refuted the Judge’ s statement should have been Mr. Chandramohan.
The Bench observed that the Judge’s reaction was much more courteous than was expected. What had been alleged against Mr. Chandramohan by the Judge did call for stringent action at that point of time itself by handing him over to the appropriate authorities. Unfortunately, Mr. Chandramohan instead of realising the Judge’s magnanimous attitude displayed a much more disastrous attitude by behaving in an unruly manner in the court hall when the Judge had no other option except to reveal in the open court the monstrous and unpardonable behaviour of the advocate.
It said the magnitude of the behaviour of Mr. Chandramohan “was unprecedented and the same had to be dealt with an iron hand to ensure that such a behaviour was not even dreamt to be attempted by any other unscrupulous element under the garb of wearing the glorious robes of an advocate.”
Having regard to the order passed and directions issued, the Bench said it was not now inclined to take any proceedings for contempt.
- Raja tried to influence a judge: Madras HC (ibnlive.in.com)
- Raja denies influencing Madras HC judge (ibnlive.in.com)
- Counsel cannot be allowed to succeed in snatching an order in his favour by advancing threat, says Judge (thehindu.com)
- “Anticipatory bail can’t be restricted to small duration” (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- Court refuses Rakhi’s plea (thehimalayantimes.com)
J. Venkatesan in THE HINDU
Nearly 60% of arrests either unnecessary or unjustified
Strike a balance while considering anticipatory bail prayers
New Delhi: Observing that great ignominy attaches to the arrest of a person, the Supreme Court has held that it will not be proper for the trial court or the High Court to grant anticipatory bail for a limited duration and thereafter ask the accused to surrender and seek regular bail.
“Arrest leads to many serious consequences not only for the accused but for the entire family and at times for the entire community. Most people do not make any distinction between arrest at a pre-conviction stage and the post-conviction stage. Life bereft of liberty would be without honour and dignity, and it would lose all significance and meaning, and life itself would not be worth living,” said a Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and K.S. Radhakrishnan, allowing an appeal against an order declining anticipatory bail to a man.
Writing the judgment, Justice Bhandari said: “Right to life is the most fundamental of all human rights and any decision affecting human right or which may put an individual’s life at risk must call for the most anxious scrutiny.” He quoted a Constitution Bench judgment in Sibbia’s case, according to which there should not be any limitation on grant of anticipatory bail.
“However [subsequently], some Benches of smaller strength have erroneously observed that Section 438 Cr.PC should be invoked only in exceptional or rare cases, that means the life of Section 438 Cr.PC would come to an end after that limited duration. This is not the correct view as no such limitation has been envisaged by the legislature,” Justice Bhandari said.
Arbitrary use of power
The Bench pointed out that the Law Commission, in its report, had severely criticised the police for arbitrary use of the power of arrest which, the Commission said, “is the result of the vast discretionary powers conferred upon them. The Commission expressed concern that there is no internal mechanism within the Police department to prevent misuse of law in this manner.”
The Bench said that by and large, nearly 60 per cent of the arrests were either unnecessary or unjustified and that such unjustified police action accounted for 43.2 per cent of the jail expenditure. Arrest should be the last option and restricted to exceptional cases where it was imperative in the facts and circumstances of a case.
“While considering the prayer for anticipatory bail, a balance has to be struck between two factors namely, no prejudice should be caused to a free, fair and full investigation and there should be prevention of harassment, humiliation and unjustified detention of the accused; the court has to consider reasonable apprehension and must carefully examine the entire available record and particularly the allegations which have been directly attributed to the accused and these allegations are corroborated by other material and circumstances on record.”
The Bench said: “Personal liberty is a very precious fundamental right and it should be curtailed only when it becomes imperative according to the peculiar facts and circumstances of the cases. All human beings are born with some unalienable rights like life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. The importance of these natural rights can be found in the fact that these are fundamental to their proper existence and no other right can be enjoyed without the presence of the right to life and liberty.”
In the instant case, Siddharam Satlingappa Mhetre was denied anticipatory bail by the Bombay High Court. The Supreme Court allowed his appeal and directed that he be granted anticipatory bail on certain conditions.