SCBA to seek explanation from Sibal for apologising to CJI on behalf of Bar Association

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New Delhi (India), March 9, 2023: A section of the Supreme Court Bar Association has expressed unhappiness at Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Neeraj Kishan Kaul for apologising to the Chief Justice of India on behalf of the bar over the remarks made by SCBA President Vikas Singh.

After a recent meeting 235 SCBA members have proposed a resolution seeking action against the senior lawyers for tendering apology “without knowing the issue and without consulting anyone in the Executive Committee”.

Tempers were high in the Chief Justice’s court last Thursday, when senior advocate Vikas Singh pressed the issue of the listing of a petition filed by the SCBA to convert a piece of land in the court’s premises into chamber blocks for lawyers. Unhappy about his request for ‘urgent listing’ being denied, even after the matter was allegedly listed six times but not heard on a single occasion, Singh exclaimed that he did not want to escalate the conflict and ‘take it to the judges’ residence’.

CJI DY Chandrachud however did not appreciate Singh’s submission. “Do not threaten the chief justice. I will not be cowered down by you. I have never let myself be browbeaten by bar members and I will not let it happen in the final two years of my career,” Chief Justice Chandrachud admonished. Later in the day, Sibal and Kaul apologised to the bench, with the former saying, “I do not think that the bar should transgress the limits of decorum. We all apologise.”

Following this remark, 184 SCBA members have now proposed a resolution to express solidarity with the SCBA President and 235 members have proposed a resolution to seek explanation from Sibal and Kaul.

In a meeting held on March 6, the Executive Committee of the SCBA decided to convene a General Body Meeting on March 16 to consider the following resolutions:

Members of the Bar expressing complete solidarity with the stand taken by the President SCBA in the Court of Hon’ble Chief Justice of India with regard to the Chambers construction issue in the newly allotted land; Issue appropriate Show Cause Notice to the concerned members(Sibal & Kaul) as mentioned in the resolution demanding their explanation; and Any mentioning done by a member of the Bar to belittle the stand taken by the SCBA in the Judicial proceeding should be highly condemned and in the future strict action be taken against such member.

At the heart of the controversy is a piece of land measuring 1.33 acres allotted to the top court by the Government. According to the SCBA, there was an agreement that 40% of the land would be used for lawyers chambers and the remaining for the archives of the Supreme Court.

The SCBA has claimed that former chief justice, N.V. Ramana had orally agreed to permit the entire building to be converted into chamber blocks. Considering the growing need of the members of the bar, the association filed a writ petition in which notice was issued by a bench led former chief justice Uday Umesh Lalit. The SCBA has claimed that CJI Lalit, during a hearing, had also endorsed the idea of the entire building being used to accommodate lawyers and shifting the archives that were to be built in the remaining three-fifths of the land to the additional building complex of the Supreme Court.

Since Chief Justice Chandrachud took charge, it is claimed, the matter was listed six times and was not heard even once. “It has been mentioned before the CJI four times to ensure listing and hearing and no special privilege is being claimed by the Bar,” SCBA spokesman said.

President Vikas Singh has also written a letter to Justice Chandrachud to urgently hear the petition since it pertained to the ‘lives and livelihoods’ of the members of the association. “Given this unfair treatment, we hope and trust that a situation will not be created to force us to resort to a dignified form of protest,” the letter had stated.

Earlier, these issues were flagged by the SCBA president in another letter to the then-chief justice, U.U. Lalit regarding the allocation of additional land to the SCBA.

Note : News story is based on an inputs shared in 2-3 Lawyers Groups in New Delhi

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