Delhi HC drops contempt reference against senior lawyer



New Delhi: A metropolitan magistrate's reference to launch contempt proceedings against a senior lawyer for allegedly entering into an "ugly spat" with her has been dropped by the Delhi High Court.

While dropping the reference against senior lawyer Randhir Jain, an advocate with over 40 years of experience, a bench of justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Manmohan Singh, however, said, "It was his (lawyer's) duty to have avoided an ugly spat with a judge, who works under tiring circumstances due to heavy workload."

"We apply the precautionary principles by counselling the counsel who has a 40 years' experience at the Bar that it was his duty to have avoided an ugly spat, if at all, with the judge, had the inexperienced judge provoked the counsel; and as regards the metropolitan magistrate, who lacks experience and was working under tiring circumstances due to heavy workload," the bench said.

The bench also ticked off the judge for not observing the judicial restraint and said, “Howsoever under work pressure a judge may be, judicial restraint has to be observed. We close the matter. The notice of contempt is discharged."

"We do find some recalcitrant behaviour on the part of the metropolitan magistrate..., the bench noted.

The lawyer and the metropolitan magistrate had allegedly entered into a spat during hearing of a woman's plea for maintenance from her estranged husband.

The metropolitan magistrate had earlier ordered the woman's in-laws to pay the maintenance but the Delhi High Court, on an appeal by them, had set aside the magisterial court's order.

Yet later on the woman's plea, the magisterial court had ordered confiscation of US-based properties of her husband and his younger brother.

It was this part of the order, which had triggered the spat, prompting the metropolitan magistrate to send a reference to the high court to begin contempt of court proceeding against the advocate.

PTI