Tuesday, Nov 29, 2022

Enter the Well of a courtroom and be slapped with a contempt notice

No less than a court registrar and the deputy commissioner of police (DCP), in charge of the court’s security, learnt it the hard way when they were slapped with contempt notices.

One has heard of a Well in Parliament but the Supreme Court too has one, and the breach of this sanctified area could attract a contempt notice. No less than a court registrar and the deputy commissioner of police (DCP), in charge of the court’s security, learnt it the hard way when they were slapped with contempt notices.

Taking suo motu cognisance, a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana recently issued contempt notices to the additional registrar and the Delhi Police DCP who have been entrusted with the security of the top court. Their scope of functioning includes making sure the courts function smoothly and that there is no disturbance inside the courtrooms.

But the bench found them lacking when a woman litigant entered the Well of courtroom number 8.

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The woman, who was involved in a matrimonial dispute case, also tried to argue the case on her own. But the judges noticed that the case records showed she was being represented by a lawyer.

When security personnel manning the courtroom were called, they said the woman was perhaps a ‘party-in-person’ (someone who represents themselves in court) and that is why she was not stopped while she progressed towards area meant for lawyers and litigants and allowed to argue in person.

The bench first sought an explanation as to why there was no woman security personnel standing behind her if they thought she had been allowed to argue in person, and then summoned the additional registrar and the DCP concerned to offer reasons for the lapses.

The two officers rushed to the courtroom and sought to mollify the bench but the judges remained unimpressed with their verbal explanations and asked why contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated against them.

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The bench was of the opinion that the incident could not be ignored as one stray episode since there had been many such occurrences in the recent past when security was found lax.

According to the bench, such incidents hamper the decorum of the courtroom and hinder proceedings.

“Issue contempt notice to Col (retd) K B Marwaha, Additional Registrar (Security), Supreme Court, and Dr Mahesh Bhardwaj, DCP (Security), Supreme Court Unit, to show cause as to why one of the parties in-person was permitted to come to the Well of the Court, thereby enabling her to address the Court, though she is represented by an Advocate. The said incident had interfered with the smooth functioning of the court,” said the bench in an unprecedented order.
It gave the two officials four weeks’ time to submit their formal replies to the court notices, adducing reasons why they should not be hauled up for contempt.

First published on: 14-11-2015 at 01:30:03 am
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