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Supreme Court: Holding advocate Mathew Nedumpara guilty of contempt, the bench of RF Nariman and Vineet Saran, JJ has barred Nedumpara from practicing as an advocate in the Supreme Court for one year.

The Court had also sentenced Nedumpara to three months in jail, it, however,  suspended the sentence taking note of the unconditional apology tendered by him as also his undertaking that he will never attempt to browbeat any judge either in the Supreme Court or the Bombay High Court.

The bench, meanwhile, issued a fresh contempt notice to Nedumpara and three others for scandalous allegations against both the judges of the bench.

Noticing that serious allegations have been levelled against both the members of the bench in a letter which was received by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and other judges of the Court, the Bench requested the CJI to constitute an appropriate bench to hear the fresh contempt issue saying scandalous allegations have been levelled against both the members of the present bench.

The Court had, on March 12, issued notice to Nedumpara after he had argued before the Court:

“Judges of the Court are wholly unfit to designate persons as Senior Advocates, as they only designate Judges’ relatives as Senior Advocates.”

He also took the name of Senior Advocate Fali S. Nariman. When cautioned by the Court, he took his name again. Thereafter, on being questioned by the Court as to what the relevance of taking the name of Fali S. Nariman was, he promptly denied having done so. However, when others present in Court confirmed having heard him take the Senior Advocate’s name, he attempted to justify the same, but failed to offer any adequate explanation.

Considering that Justice Nariman is the son of Senior Advocate Fali S. Nariman, the Court said that:

“the only reason for taking the learned Senior Advocate’s name, without there being any relevance to his name in the present case, is to browbeat the Court and embarrass one of us.”

The Court also took note of various other orders that showed that it was not the first time that Nedumpara has attempted to browbeat and insult Judges of the Court. The Court said:

“In point of fact, the style of this particular advocate is to go on arguing, quoting Latin maxims, and when he finds that the Court is not with him, starts becoming abusive.”

Holding Nedumpara guilty of contempt, the Court directed that the judgment is to be circulated to the Chief Justice of every High Court in this country, the Bar Council of India, and the Bar Council of Kerala.

The contempt order was issued during the hearing of a Writ Petition that sought a second review of the judgment in Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India through Secretary General, (2017) 9 SCC 766. On the said petition, the Court said:

“Even otherwise, it is settled law that an Article 32 petition does not lie against the judgment of this Court. We are also of the view that Section 16(2) of the Advocates Act, 1961 is a provision which cannot be said to be unconstitutional and the designation of Senior Advocate cannot be as a matter of bounty or as a matter of right.”


Also read the guidelines issued by the 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, RF Nariman and Navin Sinha, JJ for the system of designation of Senior Advocates in the Supreme Court as well as all the High Courts of India

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Holding advocate Mathew Nedumpara guilty of contempt, the bench of RF Nariman and Vineet Saran, JJ has issued notice to Nedumpara as to the punishment to be imposed upon him for committing contempt in the face of the Court. Notice returnable within two weeks from today. The Court said that the conduct of this kind deserves punishment which is severe and though it could have punished Nedumpara by this order itself, it was issuing notice in the interest of justice.

Nedumpara had argued before the Court:

“Judges of the Court are wholly unfit to designate persons as Senior Advocates, as they only designate Judges’ relatives as Senior Advocates.”

He also took the name of Senior Advocate Fali S. Nariman. When cautioned by the Court, he took his name again. Thereafter, on being questioned by the Court as to what the relevance of taking the name of Fali S. Nariman was, he promptly denied having done so. However, when others present in Court confirmed having heard him take the Senior Advocate’s name, he attempted to justify the same, but failed to offer any adequate explanation

Considering that Justice Nariman is the son of Senior Advocate Fali S. Nariman, the Court said that:

“the only reason for taking the learned Senior Advocate’s name, without there being any relevance to his name in the present case, is to browbeat the Court and embarrass one of us.”

The Court also took note of various other orders that showed that it was not the first time that Nedumpara has attempted to browbeat and insult Judges of the Court. The Court said:

“In point of fact, the style of this particular advocate is to go on arguing, quoting Latin maxims, and when he finds that the Court is not with him, starts becoming abusive.”

Holding Nedumpara guilty of contempt, the Court directed that the judgment is to be circulated to the Chief Justice of every High Court in this country, the Bar Council of India, and the Bar Council of Kerala, through the Secretary General, within a period of four weeks from today.

The contempt order was issued during the hearing of a Writ Petition that sought a second review of the judgment in Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India through Secretary General, (2017) 9 SCC 766. On the said petition, the Court said:

“Even otherwise, it is settled law that an Article 32 petition does not lie against the judgment of this Court. We are also of the view that Section 16(2) of the Advocates Act, 1961 is a provision which cannot be said to be unconstitutional and the designation of Senior Advocate cannot be as a matter of bounty or as a matter of right.”

[National Lawyers’ Campaign for Judicial Transparency v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 411, decided on 12.03.2019]

To read the guidelines issued by the 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, RF Nariman and Navin Sinha, JJ for the system of designation of Senior Advocates in the Supreme Court as well as all the High Courts of India, click here.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu & Kashmir High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Ali Mohammad Magrey, J., allowed a Writ Petition filed by the petitioners seeking consideration of their respective cases for change of designation from Helper (Civil) to Electrician, Carpenter and Motor Mechanic respectively.

The petitioners were initially appointed to the post of Helpers in the respondent-department. The petitioners were fully technically trained in the trades of Electrician, Carpentry and Operational & Manual Maintenance of the Boiler Plant, respectively and they were granted the benefit of upgradation as semi-skilled workers. The petitioners had time and again requested the respondent authorities to change their designation from Helper as fixed in terms of their orders of regularization, to the posts of Electrician, Carpenter and Motor Mechanic, respectively. The respondents did not change their designation.

The main issue that arose before the Court was whether the respondent authorities were justified in not changing the designation of the petitioners.

The Court observed that it is an undisputed fact that the petitioners have high degree practical expertise and training in their respective trades of Electrician, Carpenter and Motor Mechanic, besides, possessing the certificates issued by the Technical Institutions. The petitioners have been discharging their duties diligently since quite a long time and the respondents without considering their expertise had regularized them on the post of Helper (Civil). The Court further observed that regularization ought to have been done keeping in mind the expertise and practical experience possessed by the petitioners.

The Court held that the respondents have been extracting work from the petitioners but they have deprived the petitioners of service benefits and hence the respondents have not extended fair treatment to the petitioners in the matter of public employment. The Court directed the respondent authorities to consider the case of petitioners for the change of designation from Helper to Electrician, Carpenter and Motor Mechanic, respectively and grant them all the benefits which they are entitled to receive. [Bashir Ahmad Malik v. State of J&K,2018 SCC OnLine J&K 684, order dated 24-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: In an intra court appeal filed by an advocate, P.B. Sahasranaman, against the judgment of a Single Judge Bench dismissing the appellant’s writ petition to consider the matter of his designation as senior counsel in the High Court,  the appeal was dismissed by a Division Bench comprising of Navaniti Prasad Sigh, C.J. and Raja Vijayaraghavan V., J.

After a review petition and a writ petition before the Supreme Court to consider the rejection of him being designated as a senior counsel failed, the appellant filed a writ petition before the Kerala High Court challenging the “Rules Regarding Designation as Senior Advocates, 2000” as being ultra vires the powers granted to the High Court by the Advocates Act of 1961. Another contention was that Rule 6 of the aforementioned Rules, which stated that at least two-thirds of the Judges present at a meeting needed to support an application for designation as senior counsel, should be read as “two-thirds of the Judges present and voting”.

Both the contentions were rejected by the High Court and the writ became only of academic interest since the ballot papers had been destroyed and there was no question of recounting. A question arose if an Advocate could consider it to be a matter of right to be designated as a senior advocate. The court answered it in negative and declared that it is a distinction conferred based upon the opinion of the Court considering “ability, standing at the Bar or special knowledge or experience in law” and that “it is a subjective decision based on objective consideration”.

Also, the Court stated that different High Courts have framed different rules with the aid of the Advocates Act and though the practice of “Judges present and voting” was prevalent, the usage of “Judges present” was held to be a conscious departure in the Kerala High Court Rules of 2000. [Adv. P.B. Sahasranaman v. Kerala High Court, Writ Appeal No. 1500 of 2017, dated 10.08.2017]