The Allahabad High Court at Lucknow has initiated criminal contempt of court proceedings against a lawyer, Asok Pande for using abusive language against judges while arguing a case, and calling them 'goondas' (In Re: Suo Motu - Ashok Pande).
A Division Bench of Justices Ritu Raj Awasthi and Dinesh Kumar Singh, said that Pande's conduct amounted to ex facie contempt of court and he had a history of such behavior. . the Court conjointly directed the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh to take required disciplinary proceedings against Pande.
The court also said he used intemperate language, indulged in indecent behavior amounting to gross misconduct and he challenged the authority of the Court. His conduct was unbecoming a member of the legal profession. it is the duty of judges and lawyers to uphold the impressiveness of law and maintain purity in the justice delivery system. The dignity of judges cannot be allowed to be contaminated by these dissatisfied and publicity-seeking persons. The past conduct of Sri Asok Pande and ex facie contempt committed by him today in the Courtroom does not leave us with any scope other than charging him for committing ex facie contempt of the court in order to protect the majesty and dignity of this Court.
The incident happened on August 18, when mentioning of cases was progressing before the Bench.
When Asok Pande stepped into the courtroom, the Court asked him why he was not in lawyer's attire, he said that he had by way of a public interest litigation petition, challenged the Bar Council Rules prescribing the lawyers dress code and, therefore, would not wear lawyer's uniform. He also added that he was appearing in person and therefore, it was not required for him to don a lawyers’ uniform.
The Court told him that he ought to be minimum in a ‘decent dress’ if he was appearing in person. On this, he started questioning the Court on ‘what is the decent dress’. The Court asked him to button his shirt, which he did not do.
During narrating the events of the day the court AFOREsaid he created commotion within the Court in the morning and the atmosphere of the Court got fully vitiated. He used intemperate language, indulged in indecent behavior amounting to gross misconduct and he challenged the authority of the Court. Mr. Asok Pande barged into the Court and came to the podium without uniform and started shouting on top of his voice His conduct was unbecoming a member of the legal profession. When he was warned that if he would not behave properly, the Court would have no option except to remove him from the Court, he challenged the Court and said that if the Court had power, it could remove him from the Court.
Two days prior to that Pande had indulged in similar unruly behavior when the hearing in the case relating to Awadh Bar Association elections was in progress.
The court ordered to keep him in custody till 3 PM so that he could come to Court and express his remorse and tender unconditional apology to the court for his outrageous behavior in the Court."
Later that day, a senior member of the Bar Senior Advocate Mohd. Arif Khan mentioned the matter and requested that the issue be given a quietus.
The Court then asked whether any respected member of the Bar would be willing to take responsibility for Pande’s future behavior in court but nobody came forward, the Court noted.
Accordingly, contempt proceedings were initiated against Pande by the court. The court said that we hold Asok Pande has prima facie committed ex facie contempt of court during the court proceedings which amounts to scandalizing and lowering the authority of this Court and interference with due course of judicial proceedings and, it also has a tendency to interfere or obstruct the administration of justice.