AJL case

Why showing personal interest, ‘defence counsel’ asks Judge

Uncalled for personal remarks, says court

Why showing personal interest, ‘defence counsel’ asks Judge

The remarks of the Judge, Dr Sushil Kumar Garg, came during a virtual hearing in the case on May 3.

Tribune News Service
Panchkula, May 5

A Judge of a Special Prevention of Money Laundering Act court in Panchkula has said he does not appreciate the “uncalled for personal remarks” by a defence lawyer in the Associated Journals Limited (AJL) case regarding “why he was showing personal interest for an expedited decision in the matter”.

The remarks of the Judge, Dr Sushil Kumar Garg, came during a virtual hearing in the case on May 3. As the court began its proceedings, Sumanjit Kaur, advocate for RS Cheema, interacted with the Judge.

The court conveyed to Kaur its intention to fix the case for the last week of May for “consideration on the charge”.

After this, Kaur sought some time to have an interaction with Cheema and stated she would revert shortly. Then, Kaur made a WhatsApp call to the “ahlmad” of the court and informed him that Cheema wanted to talk to the Judge.

Thereafter, a call was received on the mobile number of Davinder Singh, who was acting as reader during the leave period of the regular reader, from Cheema. The acting reader then handed over the phone to the Judge.

The Judge, in the order, said, “The caller on the other side identified himself as RS Cheema. He pleaded that the matter should be adjourned to July in view of the sudden surge in Covid cases and his elderly age.”

“Then suddenly the learned senior counsel started making uncalled for personal remarks and stated, : “Aap is matter me itna personal interest kyun dikha rahe ho by fixing such a short date in May itself,” the order stated.

Citing directions of the Supreme Court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court that proceedings of all criminal cases and complaints against former and sitting MPs/MLAs were required to be taken up on an urgent basis, the court had contended that the case, in which former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is an accused, fell in the priority category. Hence, it should be decided expeditiously.

“He didn’t stop here. He started agitating that in the order on the charge passed by this court in another matter (AJL case in the CBI court) against the same accused, his contention was not mentioned that he didn’t plead qua the point of applicability of Section 13(1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act due to a contrary stance earlier taken by him in another matter and that the legal submissions in this regard shall be made by PK Sandhir, senior counsel for the defence. He further contended that in the said case, they were engaged in the arguments on the discharge application till 4.30 pm and later one of the accused, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, tested positive for the coronavirus due to which he had also remained in quarantine for a week,”’ the order added.

The Judge further conveyed to the caller that he held him in high esteem and such type of aspersions were not expected of a counsel of his stature.

“Such type of attempts to overawe the judicial process on his part are not appreciable and in case he feels aggrieved by any order or directions issued by the court, he can have recourse to the legal remedies provided by law,” the court said.

“The court highly values the peaceful and cordial relations between the Bench and the Bar. There is no intent to belittle the effort of any party or the learned counsel representing them, but at the same time, the law casts a duty upon the presiding officer to uphold the majesty of law to further the cause of justice on which our Constitution lays so much emphasis,” it added.

The same Judge for the CBI court in Panchkula last month had framed charges against Hooda in the AJL case. The court fixed the next hearing in the matter for July 5.

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