A senior lawyer was on the line from Jabalpur this morning. “Namaskar sir, you remember the ‘contempt case’ regarding Rewa VC’s appointment?” “Yes” I replied. “It was a ridiculous enough thing then! Well, what of it?” “Nothing” Misra answered, “I told the court to finish it all…it is long years since …..but the court said … better check the whereabouts of the Governor”.
“Really?” I said, “it would be nice to be called now, despite all the talk about a Governor being immune to any court proceedings!”
There were interesting tales of the distinguished judge in that court doing the rounds even back then at the time of this particular case.
He had once arrived at the railway station and demanded an AC (first) berth. The conductor expressed his inability as none was available unless someone cancelled his reservation. His ‘Lordship’ lost his temper and said he would haul him up for contempt if he persisted in his refusal. A crowd of bona fide passengers and curious onlookers gathered to watch the fun. On another occasion, the same passenger had threatened a constable with dismissal because the latter had ventured to give him a challan for wrong parking.
The judge was hearing the plaint of a stop-gap vice-chancellor — a rather tricky player — who had to be relieved. The file had been wilfully delayed to give him time and we had to keep papers ready to avoid even a split-second delay in assisting the new appointee. The minute we received the file, we faxed the new VC his appointment orders and told him to take charge immediately.
On the other front, his advocate filed a petition for stay about the same moment the appointment letter was issued. The stay was granted. Realising that the appointment had been issued, his advocate filed a petition for contempt of court proceedings against me.
The honourable judge made quite a song and dance about it and continued hair splitting over it year after year. The most curious aspect of it was that years after he dismissed the former VC’s plaint — he persisted in the plea for contempt … till date… more than seven long years.
The immunity against court proceedings conferred on Governors had been thrown out of the window. Did anybody say judges don’t take their work seriously? Time they revised his view.
Bhai Mahavir is a former Governor