As many as 470 advocates, including 53 senior advocates, have signed off a letter in support of Sibal and Kaul, urging the SCBA to withdraw the decision to bring a resolution against the duo. On the other hand, 235 SCBA members had signed a letter calling for an urgent general body meeting of the SCBA, while 184 members signed a letter calling for a general body meeting to show solidarity with SCBA President Singh.
EVEN as the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) is set to consider passing a resolution against senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Neeraj Kishan Kaul for apologising to the Chief Justice of India earlier this month on behalf of the association for the conduct of its president, senior advocate Vikas Singh, as many as 470 advocates, including 53 senior advocates, have signed off a letter in support of Sibal and Kaul, urging the SCBA to withdraw the decision to bring a resolution against the duo.
Meanwhile, the Chief Justice of India Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud formed a bench comprising himself and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and P.S. Narasimha to hear a petition filed by the SCBA seeking land to construct chambers for lawyers. The bench will hear the matter on March 17.
Earlier this month, the SCBA decided to hold a general body meeting on March 16 to express solidarity with Singh after he had a heated exchange with CJI Dr. Chandrachud on March 2 over the listing of a petition seeking land allotment for lawyers’ chambers.
The letter in support of Sibal and Kaul states that the proposed resolutions are antithetical to the core values that the SCBA and the Bar are meant to uphold and stand for. “It has been one of the greatest traditions of our noble profession, that the senior members of their time, are regarded as the voice of the Bar. That they are able to freely voice their opinions, whether in support of or against issues that affect the public at large, is a privilege that has been recognized and respected. When such senior members see something less than pleasant unfold in Court, they are well within their rights to stand up and express their opinion, freely and fairly. In fact, it is their moral duty to do so, and we always look up to them for their guidance, and at times to self-contemplate a course correction,”the letter in support of Sibal and Kaul reads.
The letter further states that the statements made by Sibal and Kaul before the CJI were necessary not only to preserve the integrity of the SCBA, but also to maintain cordial relations between the Bar and the Bench.
“We firmly believe that Mr. Sibal and Mr. Kaul did not say anything against the interests of the Bar. Their emphasis was that the decorum of the court has to be maintained and their statements were not in the context of the merits of the matter, at all“,the letter states.
The decision to call for a General Body meeting was taken on March 6 by the executive committee of the SCBA. A total of 235 members signed a letter calling for an urgent general body meeting of the SCBA, while a total of 184 members signed a letter calling for a general body meeting to show solidarity with Singh on the issue of allotment of land for lawyers’ chambers.
The resolution has three demands which will be put up for consideration before the scheduled general body meeting. These include bar members expressing complete solidarity with the stand taken by Singh before the CJI; issuance of appropriate show cause notice to Sibal and Kaul demanding their explanation for apologising to the CJI for Singh’s behaviour; and condemning the stand taken by any member of the Bar belittling the stand taken by Singh.
The SCBA note says that ever since Justice Dr. Chandrachud took over as CJI in November last year, the petition seeking land allotment for chambers has been listed six times and not heard even once. The same was mentioned before the CJI four times to ensure its listing and hearing.
Earlier this month, the CJI and Singh had a fiery exchange over the allotment matter. Rebuking Singh for raising his voice and threatening the court with protests, CJI Dr. Chandrachud said he would not be cowed down.
“You will be treated like an ordinary litigant”, the CJI had said, asking Singh to leave the court. Singh was in the CJI’s court to mention the plea on allotment of chambers. The CJI directed to list it on March 19, but Singh insisted that it be listed as the first item, which the CJI flatly refused.