MP HC Imposes ₹4 Lakh Fine on Lawyer for Making Reckless Complaints Against Judges

In a landmark judgment delivered on October 25, 2023, the Madhya Pradesh High Court found an advocate guilty of contempt for scandalizing and lowering the authority of the court by filing false complaints and making reckless allegations against Judges.

The respondent, Manoj Kumar Shrivastava, who is an advocate, faced suo motu contempt proceedings initiated against him by the court following a series of complaints and letters containing derogatory language against judges. Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Vishal Mishra presided over the case.

The bench stated, “The language used in the complaints clearly goes to show that it amounts to scandalizing and lowering the authority of the court, attracting the provisions of Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.”

The complaints filed by Shrivastava contained serious allegations, including imputing partiality, corruption, bias, and improper motives to judges. These allegations were found to be in violation of the law, as they scandalized the court and lowered its authority.

The judgment cited the 1974 case of Baradakanta Mishra vs. High Court of Orissa, stating that when there is a deliberate attempt to scandalize the court or its judges, it raises larger issues concerning the independence of the judiciary and affects public confidence in the system.

The Court emphasized that being an advocate, Shrivastava was not merely an agent of his client but also an officer of the court with a duty to uphold the administration of justice.

While the advocate had filed applications to make the Judges parties to the contempt proceedings, the Court dismissed these applications, stating that it is not feasible to entertain such requests in a criminal contempt case.

The judgment highlighted that an advocate should be aware of the language used in applications and should conduct proceedings with respect and caution, as contemptuous conduct interferes with the due course of judicial proceedings and obstructs the administration of justice.

In conclusion, the Madhya Pradesh High Court’s ruling in this contempt case sets a precedent for how the legal profession should conduct itself and emphasizes the need to protect the fair name of the judiciary from unwarranted attacks on its independence.

The key points of the judgment are as follows:

  1. The respondent was found guilty of criminal contempt under Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, relating to four specific complaints, each with a different date.
  2. The respondent was ordered to pay a fine of Rs. 4,00,000/-, with Rs. 1,00,000/- designated for each of the aforementioned complaints. The fine was to be deposited with the M.P. High Court Bar Association within one month of the order’s pronouncement.
  3. Failure to deposit the fine within the specified time frame would result in one month of imprisonment for each of the mentioned complaints.
  4. However, the respondent was found not guilty of criminal contempt regarding complaints dated 01.12.2011, 10.12.2011, and 03.07.2012, and the contempt proceedings for these complaints were dropped.

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Bench: Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Vishal Mishra

Order dated: 16.10.2023

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