As Arnab Goswami lodged in Taloja Jail awaits the expedited hearing of his petition against denial of interim bail, the President of Supreme Court Bar Association has, in strong words, protested against the ‘extraordinary urgent listing’ of the matter at the apex court. Mr. Dushyant Dave, the President of SCBA wrote a letter to the Secretary General of the Supreme Court pointing out the selective listing of matters that the registry is indulging in “for last eight months during Covid pandemic”.
In the beginning of the letter itself he has made it abundantly clear that this letter is not intended to “anyway interfere with the rights” of Goswami to move the Supreme Court and states that like all Citizens he also has the right to seek justice from the highest court.
Dave points out, “While thousands of Citizens remain in jails , languishing for long periods while their matters filed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court are not getting listed for weeks and months, it is , to say the least, deeply disturbing as to how and why every time Mr Goswami approaches the Supreme Court , his matter gets listed instantly”. On this he immediately raised a serious question, “Is there any special Order or Direction from Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India and the Master of the Roaster in this regard? It is quite well known that such extraordinarily urgent listings of matters cannot and does not take place without specific orders from Hon’ble the Chief Justice. Or is it that as the Administrative Head you or the Registrar listing is giving special preference to Shri Goswami?”.
Dave further brought to the notice of the Secretary General that he has received several requests from advocates stating that their matters do not get listed for weeks and months, even if they are bail applications. While some advocates get instant listing, some others have to wait in queue for the same. Dave questioned why there is no full proof system that will be fair to all citizens as well as advocates, like a fully computerised and automated system.
He further pointed out how an ill-functioning video platform has been in use in the apex court for conducting video conference hearings and that has affected the pace of hearings and affected the sitting benches, rendering them unable to hear matters due to technical flaws. “Fewer Benches are in session daily and some of them don’t even sit during Court hours due to unknown reasons , may be due to technological challenges . Direct and debilitating effect is on the Justice delivery and rights of the Citizens, at least Common Man,” stated Dave.
Coming back to Goswami’s petition which was immediately listed, Dave stated, “This is a gross abuse of administrative power, whosoever has exercised it on administrative side . It gives an impression that Clients represented by certain Lawyers are getting special treatment , which does not speak well if the great Institution, that the Supreme Court is.”
He further requested the Secretary General that until cases of all those advocates who have requested urgent hearing are heard, this petition of Goswami be put on hold. He also requested that his letter be placed before the bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee on November 11.
Goswami was arrested by Alibaug Police on November 4 from his Mumbai house in connection with the death of an interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik in 2018. A 53-year-old interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik had died allegedly by suicide in Alibag in May 2018. According to a report in the Hindustan Times, a suicide note purportedly written by Anvay was found in which he stated that Goswami and two others — Feroz Shaikh and Niteish Sarda —had not paid him Rs 5.40 crore which led to financial constraints.
There is certainly no denying that Goswami has every right to be heard before the Supreme Court like any other citizen of the country but it is the selective treatment being meted out to certain cases that poses a threat to equality before law. Goswami has been knocking the doors of every level of court possible in a bid to secure his release after being arrested in an abetment of suicide case. The bone of contention remains that his case was listed before the Bench the very next day as it was filed and puts into question the partial treatment being given to high profile cases while access to justice has been quite restricted due to the limited functioning of courts of law in the country, owing to the pandemic.
The full text of the letter may be read here:
The Secretary General ,
Subject:- Extraordinary Urgent Listing of the Special Leave Petition filed on behalf of Shri Arnab Goswami .
I address this letter to you as the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association to lodge strong protest with regard to the subject matter which has been listed Tomorrow before the Bench of Hon’ble Justice D Y Chandrachud and Hon’ble Justice Indira Banerjee.
I have nothing personal against Mr Goswami and I am not writing this letter to anyway interfere with his rights to move the Supreme Court. Like all Citizens he also has the right to seek justice from the highest court.
The serious issue here is selective listing of matters that the Registry under your leadership is indulging in for the last eight months during Covid pandemic. While thousands of Citizens remain in jails , languishing for long periods while their matters filed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court are not getting listed for weeks and months, it is, to say the least, deeply disturbing as to how and why every time Mr Goswami approaches the Supreme Court , his matter gets listed instantly . Is there any special Order or Direction from Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India and the Master of the Roaster in this regard? It is quite well known that such extraordinarily urgent listings of matters cannot and does not take place without specific orders from Hon’ble the Chief Justice . Or is it that as the Administrative Head you or the Registrar listing is giving special preference to Shri Goswami
You are fully aware , and it is on record , that time and again I have received requests from various Advocates on Record to the effect that the matters filed by them are not getting listed for weeks and months though very urgent and involving serious issues requiring Hon’ble Court s urgent intervention including Bail matters . They have even complained , giving names , that certain AOR S matters get instant listing while they have to wait in queue for a long time, sometimes against the same judgement being appealed against .
I must place on record that in a few cases you have kindly helped in getting such matters listed . But that is not the issue . Issue here is , why is this selective listing taking place when the system is supposedly computerised and is to work automatically? Why is It that despite the same, matters are getting circulated and that too before only a few Hon’ble Benches? Why is there no foolproof system to be just and fair to all Citizens and all AORs?
You are aware , and I have brought to your notice time and again , that Covid has created serious challenges for Lawyers and that their very livelihood is threatened . Many are suffering irreparably. SCBA has tried to help them financially but we have limitations . The solution lies in improving the Virtual Hearing system in the Supreme Court by replacing Vydeo with better technical platform. SCBA, after discussing with some of the leading players in the field , short listed one of the best in the World and forwarded the proposal to You as also to E Committee and Computer Committee months and months ago. We were told that it is under consideration . You floated tender , while most HC s are taking better platforms without any tender process to do better justice . Shockingly, Hon’ble Chief Justice during hearing of a matter, upon being offered a better platform by Reliance Jio , asked his client to contact Registry . This was bolt from the blue and a shock .
Be that as it may , SC has failed to shift to a better platform for unknown reasons, making its functioning quite truncated and limited. Fewer Benches are in session daily and some of them don’t even sit during Court hours due to unknown reasons, may be due to technological challenges. Direct and debilitating effect is on the Justice delivery and rights of the Citizens, at least Common Man.
So, likes of Shri Goswami get special treatment while ordinary Indians are made to suffer , including Imprisonment, which are many times illegal and unauthorised .
Even someone like Mr P Chidambaram, a respected Senior Advocate, could not get similar speed listing and had to spend long months in jail till finally the Hon’ble Supreme Court declares that he deserved to be Bailed out .
Sir , the subject matter was filed yesterday, it got instant diary number, though not final, and it is listed tomorrow. This is a gross abuse of administrative power, whosoever has exercised it on administrative side. It gives an impression that Clients represented by certain Lawyers are getting special treatment, which does not speak well of the great institution, that the Supreme Court is.
I request, that till you install foolproof system to ensure urgent listing on well known principles , till you have listed all the matters filed by various AORs with urgent listing requests prior to November 10 , you should not allow the subject matter to be heard .
I request you to place my letter before Hon’ble Bench hearing the matter tomorrow in this regards.
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