The Hush Post: Perhaps this is the first time a senior advocate has decided to quit appearing in court citing ‘humiliation’, raising fingers at the conduct of senior Judges of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice of India. Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan has decided to quit appearing in court claiming he was humiliated as a counsel, who is seen as the officer of the court.Though Supreme Court rules do not require a senior advocate to inform the apex court when he is quitting practice, in a two-paragraph letter addressed to the CJI, Justice Dipak Misra as “Dear Chief Justice”, he wrote in his letter: “After the humiliating end to the Delhi case, I have decided to give up court practice. You are entitled to take back the Senior Gown conferred on me though I would like to keep it for memory and services rendered.” He cited the “humiliation” he suffered in the Chief Justice’s courtroom on the last day of hearing in the Centre-Delhi government power spat hearing.
On December 6, Dhavan, one among the galaxy of lawyers who appeared for the Delhi government before a five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice Misra, had refused the Chief Justice’s suggestion to submit his rejoinder statements in writing. He had pressed on with his oral arguments.
This was after senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, also for the Delhi government completed his rejoinder and the court agreed to reserve the case for judgment. The half-hour long submissions saw the Bench repeatedly contradict statements Dhavan imputed to the Chief Justice. Justice Ashok Bhushan, on the Bench, had observed that Dhavan’s conduct was “unfortunate”. Unhappy with Dhawan’s continued submissions on the same point, the CJI said: “You go on shouting. You are always like that. We will give our judgment”. This choice of words by the Chief Justice embarrassed Dhawan, who regretted that the Constitution Bench was not permitting him to articulate his propositions.
The previous day, on December 5, Dhavan was among the three senior lawyers who almost walked out of the courtroom in the Ayodhya title dispute hearing, protesting that the court had denied their plea for a fair hearing. The two events had resulted in the Chief Justice lash out in open court against the conduct of senior advocates. He had specifically referred to the Delhi and Ayodhya hearings and said the conduct of certain senior counsel was “atrocious” and they did not deserve the senior gown. After these two instances, CJI Misra said the trend of lawyers raising their voices showed their “inadequacy, incompetence and the fact that they are not even eligible to become seniors”. CJI Misra had said: “If the Supreme Court Bar Association does not regulate such members, we will be forced to regulate them”. CJI further said: “When lawyers argue in a manner, not in tune with Constitutional language, we will tolerate it, but for how long? ”