For the first time in the history of Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court, the bench consisting of Justice PB Varale and Justice ZA Haq held an on camera open court session for the Suo Moto Vs Satish Mahadeorao Uke case on February 22, 2017.
A Suo Motu Criminal Contempt Petition No. 7 of 2016 is registered against the 39-year-old advocate and respondent Satish Mahadeorao Uke – on the directions given in the judgment given in Civil Revision Application No. 26 of 2016 decided on 6th June, 2016 by Honourable Justice RK Deshpande. In spite of the opportunities granted, Uke failed and avoided to file an affidavit on one pretext or the other and filed miscellaneous applications. Ultimately, on 8th February, 2017, the court initiated proceedings for criminal contempt against Uke. The court told Uke to submit his explanation on why he should not be punished for the charges framed against him.
On February 22, 2017, an open court trial was conducted on camera, wherein instead of filing his reply Uke filed Criminal Application No. 7 of 2017 praying that Justice PB Varale should recuse himself from hearing the suo motu criminal contempt petition. Furthurmore, he filed Criminal Application No. 8 of 2017 praying that Justice ZA Haq should recuse himself as well.
After reading the title of the applications both Justice Varale and Justice Haq saw the prayer clause and on reading the prayer clause, both of them consciously decided not to read the averments made in the applications as both felt that such applications cannot be entertained.
Justice Varale and Justice Haq stated that the filing of such application before the Judge hearing the matter cannot be permitted. If it is permitted it would not be possible for any Judge to hear any matter as one of the party will choose to file such application.
Uke said that he has already submitted applications dated 29th August, 2016, 23rd January, 2017, 30th January, 2017 and 18th February, 2017 to the Honourable Chief Justice requesting that the matter be assigned to a Bench of which Justice Varale and Justice Haq are not members. The Court stated that Uke having adopted the proper course by moving applications before the Honourable Chief Justice, it sees no reason to entertain these applications. The court then dismissed Criminal Application No. 7 of 2017 and Criminal Application No. 8 of 2017.
The court said that filing of such applications is nothing but contempt in the face of the Court, especially when it is done with an oblique motive and calculated design to obstruct the hearing of the Suo motu Criminal Contempt Petition No. 7 of 2016.
The court then initiated proceedings and issued a notice to Uke for committing criminal contempt. The court also said that Uke shall explain why he should not be punished for the following charges:
→ For indulging in act of vilification by filing Criminal Application No. 7 of 2017 and Criminal Application No. 8 of 2017.
→ For scandalising the authority of the Court and for obstructing the administration of justice by filing Criminal Application No. 7 of 2017 and Criminal Application No.8 of 2017.
→ For the act of filing Criminal Application No. 7 of 2017 and Criminal Application No. 8 of 2017 which is a calculated design of Bench shunting i.e. creating a situation that the Bench is not in a position to proceed with the hearing of the matter and this is nothing but obstructing the administration of justice.
Uke was told that that he may file his affidavit, if he desires, by March 8, 2017. In addition to that in Suo motu Criminal Contempt Petition No. 7 of 2016 the respondent – Satish Mahadeorao Uke – was directed to furnish cash security of Rs 2,00,000. Also, as another contempt proceedings have been initiated against him and cognizance is taken, he was directed to furnish cash security of Rs 2,00,000 separately by depositing the amount with the Registry of this Court till March 8, 2017.
The following day, i.e on February 23, 2017, Satish Uke filed Criminal Application (APPCP) No.10 of 2017 through his advocate CV Joveson praying for adjournment. Advocate Joveson submitted that the case had been entrusted to him a day earlier and therefore, some time should be granted to enable him to prepare for the case.
The court replying to the request said that on February 1, 2017, it had passed an order and clarified that if the respondent – Satish Mahadeorao Uke – intends to engage a lawyer, he may do so till the next date i.e. February 8, 2017. It had clarified that the matter will not be adjourned on the request of the lawyer engaged by him on the ground that he is engaged recently. Uke appeared and argued the matter on February 8, 2017 and February 22, 2017 and in the midst of hearing, this request has come. Expressing displeasure the court granted time to the respondent till February 27, 2017.
Responding to another petition – Criminal Application (APPCP) No. 09 of 2017 filed by Advocate Joveson on behalf of Advocate Uke wherein Uke seeked exemption from personal appearance, the court said that the reason stated is not satisfactory and rejected the application. It then issued a non-bailable warrant against Uke to secure his presence before the Court on February 27, 2017 at 10.30 am and stated that if Uke fails to remain present before the Court it will pass orders forfeiting the amount of security deposited by him with the Registry of the Court and will proceed with hearing of the Suo Motu Contempt petition No. 7/2016.