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Transfer request is not contempt, says HC

mumbai Updated: May 19, 2010 00:52 IST
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It does not amount to contempt of court if a litigant's apprehension, while seeking to transfer his case from one court to another, is reasonable, the Bombay High Court ruled recently.

A division bench of Justice Dilip Bhosale and Justice A R Joshi was dealing with a reference forwarded by the principal and district judge of Sangli Sessions Court in September 2009. The principal judge had sought action for contempt of court against the litigant, Raosaheb Chimanna and his lawyer, Sunil Joshi.

In January 2009, a magistrate had convicted two people under the Negotiable Instruments Act on the basis of complaints lodged by Chimanna. The convicts had carried the matter in appeal to the sessions court, where it was listed before the principal judge.

In June 2009, Chimanna sought a transfer of appeals from the principal judge to the court of another judge after the principal judge stayed the sentences of both the convicts at the very inception, and without issuing a notice to the
complainant.

The judge took strong exception to the application and after rejecting their explanation, referred the matter to the high court to initiate proceedings under the Contempt of Courts Act against both advocate Joshi and Chimanna.

The HC, however, found nothing wrong in seeking a transfer of the case after it found Chimanna’s was the only case where the principal judge made an exception to his own practice of directing convicts to deposit the entire amount defaulted or a substantial part of it.

It was the only case in which the principal judge had stayed the sentences of the convicts at an interim stay without directing them to deposit the defaulted amount. The HC judge wondered what compelled the principal judge to make an exception to his own practice.

The HC found no reason for the principal judge to seek action against the lawyer, and disapproved of disparaging remarks made by the principal judge regarding the lawyer.