New Delhi, August 5: Gujarat High Court Bar Association president Yatin Oza, who was stripped by the high court of his senior advocate status on July 18 for alleged contempt, moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday challenging the decision as unconstitutional.

In his petition filed through advocate Purvish Jitendra Malkan, Oza submitted that the power to strip his senior designation rested with the chief justice of the high court, but was exercised by a two-judge bench of the court, The Telegraph reported.

The full court had on July 18 stripped Oza of his seniority status after he held media conferences to allege there was large-scale corruption in the high court registry. Simultaneously, contempt proceedings were also initiated against him.

Oza’s petition in the apex court pleaded that he had the highest respect for Gujarat High Court and that his attack was on the conduct of the registry and not the judges. He has, however, questioned the procedure adopted by the high court to deprive him of his senior advocate designation.

“The procedure for initiation of the Rule 26 proceedings goes against the spirit of the Supreme Court judgment as well as well-settled law. Hon’ble High Court Bench didn’t have the power and authority for placing orders before the Full Court (Chamber) for divesting the Senior Advocate designation of the Petitioner.

“The said power is alone with the Chief Justice of the High Court, and the said master of the roster and the administrative head was leapfrogged by the concerned bench. Thus, there is a violation of the due process doctrine under Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution. The genesis of the divesting of the designation of Senior Advocate itself is without power, authority and jurisdiction,” the petition said.

“It is submitted that I have not cast the slightest aspersion or made any insinuation against any Judge of this Hon’ble Court in my statements.… The grievances were voiced against the functioning of the Registry and though I honestly believe that criticism of the functioning of the Registry may not amount to scandalising the Court, in retrospect, I do realise that the mode and manner of voicing grievances was unwarranted,” the petition said.

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