New Delhi, September 2: Senior Advocate and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Dushyant Dave Wednesday alleged that he was not given a chance to speak during an online farewell for Justice Arun Mishra, saying he “will never again participate in any function being organised by the Supreme Court till my term is over in December”.
In a letter to Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, Dave said he “was put on mute” during the ceremony and that “the whole attempt was to prevent me from addressing on behalf of the SCBA and its EC (Executive Committee), after having invited and invitation having been accepted,” The Indian Express reported.
Dave, who has been a critic of Justice Mishra and defended Advocate Prashant Bhushan in the criminal contempt case against him, said “the entire episode leaves much to be desired on the part of this great Institution” and that it “was clearly an affront to the Bar and to me personally”.
Dave said while he may have been muted on the fear that he might say “something unpleasant”, his intended statement at the farewell was: “On behalf of the SCBA, the EC and Myself, I wish you Justice Mishra happiness and bliss in remainder of your long life which by all accounts will be as fruitful and rewarding as it has been. May I pray to Lord Mahabaleshwar to bless you with strength to introspect and stir up your Conscience.”
On their last working day, the outgoing judge sits with the CJI on his bench as a matter of custom and members of the Bar to convey their farewell wishes. Justice Mishra, who retired on Wednesday, sat with the CJI and was wished by Attorney General K K Venugopal, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, and Supreme Court Advocates On Record Association (SCOARA) President Shivaji Jadhav. Though Dave too was logged in, he was not seen speaking.
In his letter to the CJI thereafter, Dave said he was disappointment and strongly condemns the incident. He said he got a link at 10.06 am to join the Ceremonial Bench of the CJI at 12.30 pm from the Team SCI VC (Supreme Court of India Video Conferencing) and which was sent on WhatsApp App by the Registrar concerned.
Dave said he “responded at 10.16 accepting it which was acknowledged by the Registrar at 10.18.” and that he “joined through the link around 12.20 pm and was confirmed by the Team saying Video and Audio were perfect”.
“I then had conversations with the AG, the SG, President SCORA, amongst others. Once the Court assembled, I saw and heard all the proceedings clearly. At the end, Mr Rohtagi bid farewell. After Court work, Mr Venugopal was requested to speak and I saw and heard him fully including as to his disappointment on punishment of Shri Prashant Bhushan,” he said.
“When he ended, I thought that I will be requested to speak, instead Mr Jadhav was requested knowing fully well I was present. For some unknown reasons, I was being disconnected again and again but I persisted and rejoined each time. I saw and heard Shri Jadhav fully and at the end of his address again I was not requested to speak though Shri Jadhav has acknowledged my presence in his address,” he added.
“After that Your Lordship spoke which I saw and heard and then invited Justice Mishra to speak. At that stage realising the game plan I exited in the larger interests of the dignity of the Bar and Myself,” Dave said.
The senior counsel said “but what is most important is that I messaged the Secretary General on WhatsApp at 12.49 and again at 12.53 asking why I was kept on mute and why was I at all invited. Only at 1.02 he responded saying he is instructing Registrar to look into it, by which time it was too late and so I messaged him informing that I had exited.”.
Dave added, “I must confess, the Supreme Court has come to such levels where the Judges are afraid of the Bar. Please do remember, Judges come and go but we the Bar remain constant. We are the real strength of this great Institution because we are permanent”.
Dave ended his note saying, “I must say, I am personally deeply saddened by this events and will” keep away from SC-organised events till his term ends.