INVOKING its inherent powers, the Supreme Court Thursday temporarily restored the senior designation to advocate Yatin Oza from January 2022 for two years, leaving it to the Gujarat High Court to assess if his conduct during that period behoves the designation.
Though the top court did not find any reason to interfere with the decision of the high court, it invoked its inherent power to return the senior gown to Oza in the “sanguine” hope that he would live up to his assurance to the court that he would not indulge in contemptuous acts.
“It will be for the High Court to take a final call whether his behaviour is acceptable in which case the High Court can decide to continue with his designation temporarily or restore it permanently,” a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Subhash Reddy said.
The bench added if there will be any infractions Oza’s conduct within this period of two years, the high court would be well within its rights to withdraw the senior designation again.
The apex court was ruling on a petition filed by Oza challenging the decision of the full court of the Gujarat High Court in July this year which unanimously stripped Yatin Oza of his senior advocate designation.
This came after a division bench of the high court on June 9, 2020, while issuing Oza a contempt notice, had placed the matter before the Chief Justice of the High Court for consideration by the Full Court on whether to divest Oza of the senior advocate designation for calling High Court and its registry. a ‘gambling den’ and “an institute which caters only to the litigants with means and money power, smugglers and those who are traitors”.
Oza submitted before the top court that he had learnt his lesson and, thus, an opportunity must be given to him for redemption. Besides, senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, for Oza, contended that the withdrawal of the designation was not limited by time and was disproportionately harsh as Oza had not been given an opportunity to redeem himself.
The Gujarat High Court had strongly opposed Oza’s plea.