Your Honour, I issue you contempt notice!

During my formative years, I was arguing a civil appeal before an Additional District Judge. The Judge wanted to help the respondent, but I was pressing a point of law that was impeding his move to dismiss the appeal. Now he got very annoyed and in a fit of anger just threw the bulky file with trial court record on the dais. And the loose papers just flew in the air. I remained unmoved and calmly but sternly uttered: “Your Honour, I issue you show-cause notice for committing contempt of court.” As soon as I said this, the Judge was shell-shocked and just hurriedly retired to his chambers without uttering even a single word. Almost half an hour passed away.

He did not return to the chair and I did not leave my place either. The lawyers present in the court tried to break the deadlock but in vain. I told them that under Section 16 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 even a judge or magistrate can be made liable for committing the contempt of his own court as well. No one believed me on this but I refused to leave my place and declared that I would not leave until the Judge comes out and resumes the hearing.

The lawyers friendly to the Judge conveyed all this to him. He was an intelligent person and knew the law unlike his “loyal advisors” who finding a good opportunity were advising him to act against me ! Finding it very uncomfortable and knowing my capacity to take strong stands, the Judge came out of his chambers to occupy the chair with his head downwards, and I simply resumed my arguments! The “loyal advisors” were simply surprised which was writ large on their faces! I argued for 10-15 minutes and the respondent’s advocate took another 10 minutes.


My appeal was very strong on merits. There appeared to be a tacit realization has dawned upon the Judge, and he allowed my appeal on merits finding no other choice! The Judge happened to meet me in a social function many years after the incident when he had retired and I had also shifted to Delhi, and he very graciously confessed all this on his own to me. The reason to confess this was more strange. In fact, the Judge wanted to refer a client to me for filing an SLP in the Supreme Court.

When he introduced the client to me in that function, I asked the Judge “Sir, we never shared a good working relationship, then why you want to refer this client to me?” The Judge replied that since that day he had become my silent admirer and then narrated all this while making a graceful confession. Since that day I too became his fan and we are good friends now despite the age gap! There was a part-II of this incident in Delhi with another Judge with the same result in 2009. My younger colleagues, act fearlessly and know your power! But before you exercise that, you yourselves need to be on a strong footing, law, and facts both!

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Advocate Sakal Bhushan practised law at Jammu and Kashmir High Court at Jammu for a couple of decades before moving to New Delhi where he is an Advocate at the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court of India. He frequently comments on matters related to law, constitutional and legislative affairs. Mail him at and follow him on Facebook


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