GUWAHATI- An advocate in Assam was found guilty of contempt of court after making disparaging statements about a judicial officer, including commenting on her attire and equating her with a mythical demon. The Gauhati High Court sentenced him to six months in prison.
However, the court also suspended his sentence by laying down some conditions. But the advocate must submit a bail bond to the court.
In a recent judgement, the division bench of Justices Kalyan Rai Surana and Devashis Baruah forbade the lawyer Utpal Goswami from standing as an advocate in any court subject to the High Court’s jurisdiction for 15 days.
The Contempt of Courts Act of 1971’s Section 14 accuses the counsel of criminal contempt.
The two-judge bench observed, “The respondent-contemnor has not only made unfounded vitriolic attack on the integrity and impartiality of the learned judicial official concerned, but has also embarked upon character assassination of the said judicial officer. Moreover, the petitioner had also attacked this Court by making disparaging remarks on the selection process of judicial officers by questioning the sanctity of the selection process.”
Goswami had earlier submitted a petition, which was still pending before the Court of Additional District Judge in Assam’s Jorhat district.
Goswami mentioned in the petition, “The additional district judge has been presiding the court by wearing jewellery like a model in ramp and that each and every occasion she tried to overpower/depress the advocates by citing unnecessary case laws and sections of statutes without hearing the advocates, and tries to control the courtroom.”
The Gauhati High Court bench also believed that the comments would inspire other lawyers around the nation to insult and threaten judges anytime a decision is made that goes against their interests.
However, the two-judge bench also provided a lifeline to the lawyer. They suspended the sentence of imprisonment under the condition that if he gets convicted again for contempt of court in the next four years, then he would have to serve the jail term.