Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017 | Last Update : 02:32 PM IST

Maharashtra govt apologises to Justice Oka for bias allegations

THE ASIAN AGE. | SHAHAB ANSARI
Published : Aug 29, 2017, 1:21 am IST
Updated : Aug 29, 2017, 4:27 am IST

The judge also asked the Maharashtra government if it did not want the high court to exist.

Bombay High Court
 Bombay High Court

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government — which had sought a change of bench in a noise pollution case last week, accusing Justice Abhay Oka of bias — on Monday apologised for levelling the allegations against the Bombay high court judge.

Justice Oka, however, held that the state had shown no remorse when the latter offered an unconditional apology and withdrew its allegation against him. He said the court was not bothered about the allegation but the state had lowered the dignity of the more than 150-year-old institution.

The judge also asked the Maharashtra government if it did not want the high court to exist.  

“You have taken this 155-year-old institution for a ride. First, go and apologise to the Chief Justice (CJ) whom you misled by not showing our order. Your apology is not bona fide,” Justice Oka said.

The division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Riyaz Chagla lashed out at the state and Advocate General (AG) Ashutosh Kumbhakoni for both, the manner in which it levelled allegations against Justice Oka to get the matter of noise pollution transferred from Justice Oka’s court and the way it withdrew the charge levelled against the judge.

“Have you ever heard any allegation of bias levelled against a judge without an affidavit?

Can an allegation of bias be made in Praecipe?” asked Justice Oka.

“You mislead the CJ to get an order and later she had to withdraw that order,” he said, adding, “Wasn’t it your (AG’s) and (counsel for state Abhinandan) Vagyani’s duty to inform the CJ that this court had passed an order in open court loudly and clearly that
it has not recused itself  from hearing the matter, and it had been kept for hearing the state’s side at 3pm?”

When Mr Kumbhakoni told the bench that as AG he was taking all the responsibility for what went wrong, the bench said, “You have taken the responsibility, we uphold the dignity of advocate general office and matter ends there.” Justice Oka however, also said, “The allegation was levelled by the state and apology tendered by the state is not bona fide and hence it is expected that if state wants to tender an apology it should be in the form of affidavit.”

Following this, the AG told the bench that an apology in the form of an affidavit on behalf of the state government would be submitted before the court on Tuesday.

The two-page communication by the state had said that state’s allegation that Justice Oka harboured a serious bias against the state machinery in the noise pollution matter was not raised as an allegation against the judge personally, but was limited only to the subject matter involved.”

To this, Justice Oka said that he was not bothered about allegations made against him personally because many litigants do that but the bench was worried about its consequences on entire judiciary and especially on the high court.Later, the larger bench consisting Justices Oka, Anoop Mohta and Chagla, posted the bunch of petitions on noise pollution for hearing on Tuesday.

Tags: bombay high court, justice abhay oka
Location: India, Maharashtra, Mumbai (Bombay)