Mumbai, Aug 28 (IANS) The Bombay High Court on Monday lambasted the Maharashtra government, accusing it of “taking the 155-year-old institution for a ride and misleading the Chief Justice”.
Justice Abhay S. Oka asked state Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni to apologise to High Court Chief Justice Manjula Chellur, whom it had “misled”.
The development came after Kumbhakoni tendered an opology and withdrew his insinuations of “bias” against the Justice Oka during hearing on pollution cases last week, and getting the matters transferred to a different court.
On August 24, the government had accused a Division Bench headed by Justice Oka of “serious bias” against it in a matter pertaining to noise pollution and silent zones in Mumbai.
“You have taken this 155-year-old institution for a ride. First, go and apologise to the Chief Justice, whom you misled by not showing our order. Your apology is not bona fide,” Justice Oka said.
The court also advised the state government “not to preach” to the judiciary as to what is fair and what not.
The court said though it had faith in the Advocate General, the state government had no trust in the High Court.
Last week, the state government — through Kumbhakoni — moved an application before Chief Justice Chellur to seek transfer of pollution cases, alleging that the hon’ble Judge (Justice Oka) is “somehow harbouring a serious bias in the subject matter of these petitions against the state machinery”.
The request was made after the Division Bench headed by Justice Oka debunked the Maharashtra government’s views on silence zones that the Noise Pollution Rules, 2000, had been amended by the Centre on August 10, after which “no silence zones exist in the state”.
Disagreeing with the state government’s stance, Justice Oka said it would first have to seek modification of the High Court order of 2006 on silence zones.
Following the state government’s plea, Chief Justice Chellur had transferred the pollution cases to another Division Bench, but it triggered a huge debate and led to a strong statement by the Advocates Association of Western India.
“The Managing Committee (AAWI) deprecates the growing unethical tendency among the litigants against a judge or judges in an ongoing litigation, knowing well that the matter is going against them,” the WIAA said.
The Bombay Bar Association dubbed it a “black day in the history of Bombay High Court” and that “Justice Oka’s integrity and intelligence are unquestionable”.
On Sunday, Chief Justice Chellur recalled her earlier order and has since transferred all pollution-related cases to a full bench headed by Justice Oka, Justice A.V. Mohta, and Justice Riaz Chagla.
“You should send a clear and loud signal to the government that you cannot play with this august institution,” Justice Oka said on Monday to the Advocate General.
Withdrawing the allegations unconditionally and apologising, Kumbhakoni claimed the government’s intentions were “misunderstood and misinterpreted to project that the state is against the judiciary”.
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