Bombay HC may form five-judge bench to hear case on secretly shot court video
The Bombay high court may constitute a five-judge bench to hear a criminal contempt case on secretly shooting and uploading videos of court proceedings on YouTube and calling them a sting operation.
“The issues involved are of paramount importance and directly affect the independence of the judiciary. The matter needs to be heard by a larger bench of five judges,” said the bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai.
The bench has now directed the high court registrar to place the contempt petition filed by Bombay Bar Association and the Advocates Association of Western India before the chief justice to take a decision over forming a larger bench.
Acting on the petition, on February 17, the bench had directed YouTube and Google to remove the offensive videos immediately and also asked them to not allow anyone to upload any such matter. What irked the judges more on Wednesday was the fact that even after February 17 order, more videos making similar allegations against the sitting judge of the high court and some other persons have been uploaded on the online content sharing site.
The bar associations have filed the petition seeking action for criminal contempt against 14 people. Apart from the video of court proceeding, several other videos of interviews given by advocate Nilesh Ojha, who appeared in the video-recorded proceeding, and some other persons, making scandalous allegations against the judge.
According to the bar associations, the 38-minute video also made scandalous and contemptuous comments about the high court judge. Senior advocate Rafiq Dada, who represented the Bombay Bar Association, stated that the advocate, Nilesh Ojha, who had appeared for one of the parties in the video had given an interview on camera which — along with the anchor Rishi Pandit’s remarks — was “grossly contemptuous”.
The bar associations had sought that 14 people be prosecuted, but the advocate general has granted consent to file petition against 10 of them, including advocate Ojha, Shete, Pandit and seven others. On February 17, the court had issued contempt notices to Shete, Pandit and two others.