Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud on Friday skipped the ‘Holi Milan’ event organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) where he was to be present the chief guest.
On Thursday, a heated exchange of words was witnessed between the CJI and SCBA president Vikas Singh during the hearing of a matter related to allotment of land at Appu Ghar’ for lawyers’ chambers. The CJI had to direct the senior lawyer not to raise his voice and leave the court.
The SCBA had organised a poetry recital on Friday where the CJI was invited as the chief guest. Eminent poets like Ashok Chakradhar and Shambhu Shikhar recited their poems at the event.
During the mentioning of cases, the SCBA president told a bench of the CJI and justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala that he was struggling to get the matter listed for the last six months.
“The Appu Ghar land came to the Supreme Court on a petition by the SCBA and the Bar was given only one block with reluctance. The construction on the land was to begin during ex-CJI N V Ramana’s tenure. For the last six months, we are struggling to get the matter listed. Treat me like an ordinary litigant,” Singh said.
“You can’t demand land like this. You tell us the day we are sitting idle for the whole day,” Justice Chandrachud responded sharply.
To this, Singh replied, “I am not saying that you are sitting idle for the whole day. I am only trying to get the matter listed. If it is not done, I will have to escalate and take it to your lordships’ residence. I don’t want the Bar to be taken like this.”
Singh’s remarks got Chandrachud’s goat.
“Don’t threaten the chief justice. Is this a way to behave? Please sit down. It will not be listed like this. Please leave my court. I will not list like this. I will not be cowered down by you.
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“Mr Vikas Singh, please don’t raise your voice. As a president, you should be mentor and leader to the Bar. I am sorry, you are reducing the level of dialogue. You have filed an Article 32 petition, claiming that the land allotted to the Supreme Court should be handed over to the Bar for construction of chambers. We will deal with the matter when it comes. Please don’t try and twist our arm to give you the relief you want,” the CJI said.
The CJI said he had already announced his decision and the matter will be taken up on March 17th. It will, however, not be the first on board, he added.
The SCBA president said, “If my lords want to dismiss it, please do it. But don’t do that it is not listed.”
The CJI replied, “I have announced my verdict. It’s on March 17 and it will not be listed at serial number 1, Mr Singh.”
The senior lawyer refused to relent and said the Bar has always supported the court.
“I never want to be unreasonable but I am forced to do so in this case,” he said.
Chandrachud then told Singh, “I am the chief justice. I have been here since March 29, 2000. I have been in this profession for 22 years. I have never allowed myself to be browbeaten by a member of the Bar, litigant or anyone else. I will not do that in the final two years of my career.”
Refusing to keep quiet, Singh said, “This is not the attitude. If the Bar is cooperating with the court, it doesn’t mean it should be taken for a ride. That is something which I feel very strongly. I want to make this very clear.”
“Please sort your agenda outside the courtroom,” Chandrachud said curtly and called the next matter.