Senior advocate and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Dushyant Dave on Wednesday, has written a letter to Chief Justice of India (CJI) showing his disappointment over how he was treated during a virtual ceremonial farewell function of Justice Arun Mishra.
Dave alleged that although he is being invited to join the retirement ceremony which he had accepted, court officials have deliberately muted his microphone in order to prevent him from giving a speech.
“I wish to place on record my strong disappointment and condemnation at what happened today in the Supreme Court of India during the farewell to Justice Arun Mishra. The entire episode leaves much to be desired on the part of this great institution. The whole attempt was to prevent me from addressing on behalf of the SCBA and its Executive Committee, after having invited and invitation having been accepted. This was clearly an affront to the Bar and to me personally,” said Dave’s letter.
Dave stated that SC has reached such a stage where “judges are scare of the lawyers”, and reminded CJI SA Bobde “judges are temporary while the Bar is permanent”.
“I must confess, the Supreme Court has come to such levels where the judges are afraid of the Bar. Please do remember, judges come and go but we the Bar remain constant. We are the real strength of this great Institution because we are permanent,” said SCBA head Dave.
SC officials have denied all the allegations and stated that it was merely a technical glitch. They also cited that many other judges have also failed to join the video conference.
While Dave contended that he was connected and was visible on the screen. He also maintained that he was able to talk well before the bench assembled.
“I was duly connected and cleared by technical team (which manages video conference hearings at SC) for video and audio. I interacted with the Attorney General and others for over half an hour. I waited and remained connected all through but was muted once the bench assembled. If I was to speak, the CJI would have at least inquired if I was there. They all could see me and I could see them too. The inescapable conclusion is that the Registry has issued a false statement,” said senior advocate Dushyant Dave.
Usually, whenever a Supreme Court judge retires, the retiring judge sits along with CJI where all Bar leaders including the attorney general, SCBA president, and senior lawyers gather and bid farewell. SCBA also used to arrange a farewell ceremony separately.
SCBA has invited Justice Arun Mishra for the farewell which he has declined stating that his conscience did not permit him to do so at a time when the world is reeling under the effects of the pandemic.
Dave stated that he had received a link at 10 am to join the video conference to bid farewell to Justice Arun Mishra which is going to start at 12.30 pm. He had joined the call on 12.20 and was having casual conversations with attorney general KK Venugopal and solicitor general Tushar Mehta before the bench assembled.
Bar head Dushyant Dave alleged that after the bench assembled and heard all cases, Venugopal and Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association president Shivaji Jadhav were invited to speak, but he was disconnected frequently.
“I persisted and rejoined each time. I saw and heard Shri Jadhav fully and at the end of his address again I was not requested to speak though Shri Jadhav acknowledged my presence in his address. After that, Your Lordship (CJI) spoke which I saw and heard and then invited Justice Mishra to speak. At that stage, realising the game plan I exited in the larger interests of the dignity of the Bar and myself,” wrote Dave to CJI Bobde.
Dave has also mentioned in the letter that he had also tried communicating with Supreme Court secretary-general Sanjeev Kalgaonkar that why he was muted, but he didn’t respond.
“Only at 1.02 pm, he responded saying he is instructing Registrar to look into it, by which time it was too late and so I messaged him informing that I had exited,” said Dave.
Dushyant Dave has been an open critic to the SC and has also been in various heated arguments with Justice Arun Mishra several times. The most recent example includes contempt proceedings against lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan.
Here is the speech that Dave has prepared to bid farewell to Justice Arun Mishra which he was not able to deliver, “Let me tell you exactly what I was to say which I had written down: On behalf of the SCBA, the Executive Committee and myself, I wish you Justice Mishra happiness and bliss in remainder of your long life which by all accounts will be as fruitful and rewarding as it has been. May I pray to Lord Mahabaleshwar to bless you with strength to introspect and stir up your conscience.”
He ended the letter by stating that he is not going to participate in any of the future functions organized by the Supreme Court until December this year. Dave’s tenure as the SCBA head will come to an end in December 2020.