India

The Delhi High Court recuses itself from hearing a contempt case filed by an ex-head of the Delhi Bar Association against a former district judge

In a contempt case filed by former district and sessions judge Sujata Kohli against ex-president of the Delhi High Court Bar Association Rajiv Kholsa, the Delhi High Court division bench recused itself from hearing the case.

A bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Amit Sharma said, β€œAt the request of Ms Kohli, who appears in person, we consider it appropriate to recuse from hearing the proceedings in order to eliminate any possibility of alleged bias.” The bench ordered that the matter be listed before another bench, subject to the Chief Justice of the High Court’s orders.

During her legal practice 27 years ago, Kohli was assaulted by Khosla, who, as a practising lawyer, was convicted of obstructing proceedings.

A group of lawyers, including Khosla, allegedly surrounded Kohli in 1994 and pulled her hair, dragged her, twisted her arms, hurled abuse, and threatened her. The incident occurred on August 5, 1994, but the case was brought before the court on July 7, 1995. In the Tis Hazari Lawyer’s Complex, Kohli was practising law from her seat near the bar association library.

Khosla was found guilty in October 2021. According to the lower court’s judgment, police are more often than not “very slow” to take action against lawyers, and Khosla was found guilty of offences punishable under IPC Sections 323 (voluntarily causing harm) and 506(i) (criminal intimidation).

When Kohli was found guilty in the case, he filed a petition before the High Court alleging that Khosla used contemptuous words against the chief metropolitan magistrate who convicted him and that a mob of lawyers obstructed the proceedings when the sentence was about to be delivered. According to the HC, it was necessary to obtain records of the trial court in March, including video conferencing or hybrid proceedings on November 27 and 30, 2021, as well as CCTV footage from both within and outside Tis Hazari Court courtroom 38 on these dates.

“In view of the allegations made in the present contempt petition, we believe it is appropriate to request a report from the principal district judge headquarters concerned regarding the above-mentioned proceedings. It is requested that the present petition be sent to the headquarters of the principal district judge in conjunction with the copy of the directions issued by this court today.

The second allegation in Kohli’s petition is that two other lower court judges were required to be present in the CMM courtroom when the sentence against Khosla was to be passed. This is one of the most shocking aspects of the story.

They were there on the dais, one to the left and one to the right. They remained there for almost one hour and they addressed the convict as β€˜Khosla Sahab, we are family.’ What about the victim in the system? Where will she go if you all are family,” she submitted during a previous hearing before the HC.

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