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You’re undermining a 155-year-old institution: HC judge tells Maharashtra government on bias allegations

He said that in an attempt to rid him of matters related to noise pollution, the government undermined the entire institution and “played with its dignity.”

mumbai Updated: Aug 29, 2017 09:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Bombay high court,Maharashtra government,noise pollution

On Monday, while hearing the bunch of matters related to noise pollution, justice Abhay Oka deprecated the government for “playing with the dignity of the high court” and also for “undermining prestige of the 155-year-old institution” by levelling accusation of bias against him.

On August 24, advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni and government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani met the chief justice and tendered the application seeking transfer of all noise pollution matters from the bench headed by him accusing him of bias.

“The state government has taken this 155-year-old institution (Bombay high court) for a ride,” said justice Oka on Monday, expressing utter displeasure over the fact that in an attempt to rid him of matters related to noise pollution, the government undermined the entire institution and “played with its dignity.”

To make matter worse, the government on Monday withdrew the accusation made in its August 24 application claiming it was not an “accusation” but a “contention.” “Is this some children’s game,” justice Oka sought to know from the advocate general. “You make the allegation and then you withdraw it,” said justice Oka, adding, “it is not that simple and that casual. You are dealing with a 155-year-old institution, the Bombay high court.”

The judge clarified this was not the first instance when he faced an allegation from a party litigant before him. “Personally I am not at all ‘touchy’ about the allegation,” said the judge. “I am not worried about myself, I am also not worried about the fact that you have caused agony to somebody,” said the judge, adding, “I am worried about the consequences of making such an allegation. The consequence is the irreparable loss caused to the prestige of the institution.” “It is not about individual allegation,” said the judge.

Ordinarily applications for transfer of cases are filed with a registrar of the court, who places those applications before the chief justice for administrative orders, making the judge wonder “why the extraordinary step was required to be taken up.”

The bench headed by justice Oka has now directed the government to file an affidavit explaining the entire episode and naming the government officials who instructed the lawyers to level accusations of bias against him.

“You [the state] are answerable to all this,” said the bench. “A loud and clear signal is required to be sent to the state that it ought not to play with this August institution,” the bench said, making it clear it will examine the state’s affidavit in depth.

First Published: Aug 29, 2017 09:38 IST

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