For bench hunting, HC issues contempt notice to city businessman

Written by RAGHAV OHRI | Chandigarh | Updated: Mar 30 2013, 21:38pm hrs



Arrest warrants issued against Naresh Batra for making uncalled for insinuatory remarks against HC Judge.

For doing bench hunting and making uncalled for insinuatory remarks against a High Court Judge, Naresh Batra, a city industrialist, is in hot water.

For, taking stern note, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has initiated criminal contempt proceedings against Batra and also issued bailable warrants against him. The warrants have been issued against Batra for avoiding service of court notices. A division bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and R P Nagrath has asked the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) and Senior Superintendent of Police to ensure compliance with the orders.

The action has been initiated after the Chief Justice took note of the unsavoury remarks and irresponsible remarks made by Batra against Justice Ranjit Singh. Pained, Justice Singh passed a five-page order, highlighting the contemptuous conduct of Batra and brought the matter to the notice of Chief Justice for appropriate action.

The Chief Justice may also consider if any action is called for against such litigant, who, without any justification, chose to make uncalled for remarks against the Court. This may be needed to maintain purity of justice delivery system and administration of justice, reads the order passed by Justice Singh in December last. After approval of the Chief Justice, a criminal contempt petition has been filed by the High Court against Batra.

It was on February 1, 2012 that Batra had moved an application before the then Chief Justice for combining all the cases pending, between him and his brother, before several Benches to avoid conflicting findings. A total of 11 cases were pending between the two brothers owing to family dispute. The then Chief Justice allowed the application and referred the matter to the senior most judge as per roster, Justice Singh.

The judge heard the cases and dismissed six petitions filed by Batra on July 5, 2012. Surprisingly, on November 1 last, Batra moved an application asking the Bench to refrain from hearing the remaining five cases. Ground taken by Batra was that six petitions have been dismissed by the Court earlier and so these petitions be not heard by this Court, reads the order.

On the first date itself, Justice Singh had disclosed that Batra had been his (the judges) classmate. The judge had questioned both the parties whether they had any objections to him (Judge) hearing the cases. Neither Batra nor his brother raised any objection.

Interestingly, in his application, Batra raised this point seeking transfer of cases from the Judges bench. Reacting sharply to this, the judge held that the applicant (Batra) at that stage had not raised any objection but now states that the Court should not have heard the cases. The objection on this count, if any, should have come from his opposite side. Apparently, this approach has now been invented without any basis. Now he appears to be doing bench hunting.

Expressing his anguish over the unfair approach of Batra, the court has held that the manner in which this application has been drafted and the averments made therein has left this Court with lot of pain.

Terming the ground taken by Batra just a red herring and concocted, the single Bench held that the averments are false, without basis and made without any sense of responsibility.

It has been pointed out that Batra had challenged the orders (dismissal of six petitions) before the Supreme Court which were later dismissed. Significantly, no such averments (accusations) were made in the SLP by him.