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In a rare case of a lawyer confronting a Supreme Court judge, a senior advocate Wednesday questioned the decision of a bench led by Justice G S Singhvi to adjourn a hearing in the Ratan Tata-Niira Radia tapes case, causing the judge to recuse himself from the case.
Singhvi, who retires next month, said he did not want to hear the case anymore and directed the matter be placed before another bench for further hearing.
His recusal was prompted by a high-voltage courtroom drama as senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for one of the parties, opposed his adjournment order by describing it as “highly arbitrary”, “extremely unfair” and “filibustering”.
The unusual episode occurred after the bench passed an order adjourning the case to December 2 for enabling Ratan Tata, the government and the CBI to file responses to an application by NGO ‘CPIL.’
The NGO has demanded action on findings of the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), which reportedly found irregularities in some business transactions after examining the Radia tapes.
Dhavan, who appeared for Open magazine, was supposed to start rebuttal arguments against Tata, who has sought action against the magazine for publishing some of the contentious conversations former corporate lobbyist Radia had with several people, including industrialists and journalists.
Tata’s counsel, senior advocate Harish Salve, had already concluded his arguments and had sought strict action against media organisations for publishing the conversations.
As the bench was deferring the matter, Dhavan fervidly opposed adjournment, saying the two issues were completely different and that the SFIO report had nothing to do with the arguments related to the right to privacy and freedom of the media.
“Let my lord hear me because the application by CPIL raises a totally different issue and the Tata case has nothing to do with it. I am seeking dismissal of Tata’s petition with exemplary cost. I have been coming prepared to argue for the last two dates but the matter is only getting adjourned,” he said.
The bench, however, retorted: “They are not separate issues since prayers are linked. Tata’s petition says no conversation should be published whereas CPIL wants all the conversations in public domain. We cannot hear the matter in piecemeal.”
After Dhavan’s repeated pleas to accommodate him failed to persuade the court, the senior counsel told the bench: “This is very unfortunate and extremely unfair. Let me say this that it is most upsetting that the media