Shimla, Sep 2
Special Judge Forest Arvind Malhotra here in an order passed last month stated that an attempt had been made to scandalizing his court while hearing of a criminal case by an advocate. The special judge has referred the matter to high court of Himachal Pradesh to seek permission to attract criminal contempt over the alleged offence.
The writer has the copy of order in the matter pertained to the Sessions Judge (Forests), Shimla in a criminal case of Aug 26, 2020 in which the accused counsel Ajay Kochhar alleged the open court that his client Shiv Ram Chaudhary has taken exception to the present trial being heard by me (the trail case judge).
The counsel for the accused stated in the open court that someone from the complainant side has tried to approach me(trial judge) in this case.
When the judge asked him(accused) about the details, he stated that there is audio recording with him as evidence.
The trial judge further asked the counsel to produce the audio recording. The advocate insisted that the same be heard in my(judge) Chamber in presence of a learned Public Prosecutor, however, I (the judge ) told him that whatever recording was available should be played in the open court.
After initial reluctance he (counsel) told advocate Gaurav Kochhar to play the audio present in his laptop in the open court. Two audio recordings were played wherein some person was heard speaking in ‘Mandyali’ like dialect.
He was saying that he had remained outside and somebody had gone inside the house and talked about the work.
Ajay Kochhar was enquired as to whose voice was in the audio recording, who had recorded the same, what was the work stated, who had met whom, but Kochhar could not answer the same and said that his client was apprehensive that complainant party had met me(judge).
Judge told Kochhar and all other present in court that no one has approached me from the complainant’s side in this case and had anyone contacted me, I would have recused myself from this case.
Thereafter, I( judge) told Kochhar that the audio recording along with the laptop requires to be seized right now and sent to the High Court(HP) while making reference.
However, Kochhar said that he had some private income tax data in it and laptop be not seized.
He also stated that the audio recording in pen drive and compact disc will be supplied to the court after some time.
Kochhar was told to give the recording alongwith his apprehension or of his client Shiv Ram Chaudhary in writing alongwith affidavit(s) so that further proceedings in accordance with law could be taken.
The matter was deferred for some time and after the break Ajay Kochhar stated that his client Shiv Ram Chaudhary would not sign any application seeking my recusal from hearing this case as he had complete faith in me.
Accused Shiv Ram Chaudhary also has been asked to place on record the audio recording or any other application but he had refused to do so. He had also stated that he had complete faith in me as Judge and he would cut his throat instead of doubting my impartiality and honesty. Ajay Kochhar learned Advocate, Shiv Ram Chaudhary, Rajiv Sharma and other accused as well their counsel have submitted that the matter be not be further pursued and all allegations are withdrawn.
They have also requested not to make any reference to the Hon’ble High Court.
Ajay Kochhar has been again asked by the judge to place on record the alleged recording and the laptop wherein the recording was played earlier in the court. Ajay Kochhar has produced the said laptop as well pen drive which has been sealed with the court seal in the open court by the System Officer. Sealed packet has been signed by Ajay Kochhar, Mukta Kashyap, Rajiv Sharma and me.
Since the entire incident has taken place in the open court, in my ( judge) humble opinion the matter requires to be submitted to the Hon’ble High Court by way of reference. When again asked what doubt accused apprehend on me (judge) Shiv Ram Chaudhary stated with folded hands that he has no doubt on me(judge).
The court of trial judge passed four page order that despite apology, the playing of audio and levelling allegations against me(judge) as Judge in the open court in my humble opinion, attracts provision of criminal contempt under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 as it is an act which scandalizes and tends to lower the authority of this court as well interferes with due course of the present judicial proceedings and further is interference which tends to obstruct the administration of Justice.
The judge said that after today’s(Aug 26) episode, he is not inclined to hear and try this matter further. Let a reference be submitted to the High Court for appropriate action in accordance with law. The court put up for further Sep 28 m 2020.