Using his extraordinary powers, Chief Justice of India Rnajan Gogoi has has sacked its two assistant registrars of the Supreme Court, who were found involved in tampering with a court order which appeared favourable to Reliance Communication chairperson Anil Ambani in a contempt case. The CJI acted on a complaint by Justice Rohinton F Nariman, who has been hearing the contempt case.
Justice Nariman’ issed a show-cause notice of contempt to Anil Ambani over alleged failure to clear outstanding dues to Ericsson India despite categorical undertakings to the top court. The order that was uploaded on the Supreme Court website on January 7 said the “personal appearance of the alleged contemnor(s) is dispensed with”.
This connoted that Ambani’s presence was not required on the next date of hearing although the rule is that anybody who is issued a contempt notice must show up once and request for exemption of his personal appearance on future dates.
The order propitious to Ambani was uploaded on the website even though Justice Nariman had hours before made it clear that Ambani’s personal appearance was not dispensed with. The discrepancy led senior advocate Dushyant Dave and other Ericsson representatives move Justice Nariman’s court again, pointing this out.
Justice Nariman, expressing shock, got the correct order uploaded on the website on January 10. “Personal appearance of the alleged contemnor(s) is not dispensed with,” the revised order said.
Justice Nariman also preferred an inquiry against the court officials, which suggested deliberate tampering after a scrutiny by the CJI. Subsequently, court masters, Manav Sharma and Tapan Kumar Chakraborty, who held the rank of assistant registrars, were sacked.
Ambani, in terms of the revised order, remained present in the court on February 12 and on February 13 in connection with the contempt proceedings. He spent over two hours in the court on Tuesday and almost the whole day on Wednesday when the judgment was reserved by Justice Nariman’s bench.
Towards the end of the proceeding, Justice Nariman told senior lawyers Mukul Rohatgi and Kapil Sibal, who appeared for Ambani and RCom: “Consequences will follow of what you have done.”