Home » News » Bombay High Court Sets Precedent: Contemplating Contempt Charges for Lawyers Signing Pleadings that Scandalize the Court in the Absence of Substantiated Grounds

In a recent legal development, the Bombay High Court addressed the problem of lawyers potentially facing contempt charges for presenting pleadings that scandalize the court without proper grounds in the case of Amar Sadhuram Mulchandani v. DE (Cr. Writ Petition No.612 of 2023). Advocates Zoheb Merchant and Minal Jaiwant Chandnani who were representing their client Bhisham Hiralal Pahuja were investigated for a praecipe that included a newspaper item that questioned Justice Sambre’s impartiality. The court sharply denounced their acts underlining that lawyers’ responsibility to the court takes precedence over their duty to the client and expressing intention to evaluate the sincerity of their unconditional apologies.


  • The division bench was hearing a praecipe (application to circulate the matter) made on behalf of their client/respondent, Bhisham Hiralal Pahuja by Advocate Zoheb Merchant junior to Advocate Minal Jaiwant Chandnani. 
  • A newspaper story casting doubt on Justice Sambre was enclosed with the precipice.
  • According to the article, Justice Sambre is biased toward the petitioner in the case and will grant him bail to keep his relationship with him. 
  • It also mentioned that a complaint against Justice Sambre had been lodged with the Chief Justice of India.
  • When questioned in court, Advocate Minal Jaiwant Chandnani under whom Advocate Zoheb Merchant works defended the praecipe’s contents. 
  • However, after noting that the lawyers’ conduct was scandalizing the Courts and creating an artificial environment that prevented the matter from being heard, the lawyers gave unconditional apologies.


The lawyers’ actions were strongly condemned by the court. When it was enquired the Registry as to who had submitted the praecipe, it was informed that both of these lawyers had submitted the praecipe and at that time the Registry had advised them to refrain from doing so. After some time, both of these lawyers returned and insisted on the Registry accepting the praecipe.

As a result, the court has ordered the Pimpri-Chinchwad Commissioner of Police to serve a contempt notice on respondent Bhisham Pahuja and to provide information on the journal ‘Rajdharma’ that published the scandalous story.

The court relied significantly on a Supreme Court decision that found that lawyers cannot hide behind client instructions when signing filings that embarrass the court. The court stated that it would assess if the lawyers’ unconditional apologies were genuine.


The Bench Judges are required to rule on the cases brought before them without regard for personal bias or prejudice. The parties such as the aforementioned lawyers and the litigants they represent create the false impression that by scandalizing the Courts and Judges, they might obtain an order of recusal. In such a case, we believe that the lawyers and litigants who engage in such behavior should be dealt with harshly by taking stern action.

The division bench of Justices Nitin Sambre and NR Borkar noted that when a lawyer’s obligations to the Court clash with his duty to the client, the obligation to the Court takes precedence.

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