I Filed Petitions in Support of Former CJI Dipak Misra When He Faced Allegations: Lawyer Tells Supreme Court
Anadi Tewari  and  Debayan Roy (Bar  and  Bench) 09 July 2024
While seeking the waiver of costs imposed on him by the Supreme Court for filing frivolous Public Interest Litigation (PILs), a lawyer on Tuesday claimed that he had filed several petitions in support of former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra when he was facing allegations in 2018. 
 
The submission was made by Lucknow-based Advocate Asok Pande before a Bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Augustine George Masih.
 
The Court was hearing Pande's application for waiver of costs of Rs50,000 imposed on him last year for challenging the appointment of Supreme Court advocates as judges of High Courts.
 
"You pay the cost in one week, else we will issue contempt. Mr Pande are you willing to pay...or not? You are the member of the Bar, we request you to answer it clearly," the Court told Pande.
 
It also remarked that after costs had been imposed on Pande, he had gone abroad on a trip.
 
"I have not got case[s] since 2023. My trip was sponsored by my kids," Pande said in response.
 
At this stage, Pande made a reference to the former CJI and claimed that he had supported Misra when "nobody from the court" had supported him.
 
"My children are rich but I am poor. I have moved an application before CJI. It should not be that the Supreme Court only wants 50,000 money as costs. Please do not do this. I had initially filed several petitions for CJI Dipak Misra when a lot of allegations were put against him.
 
 Nobody from this court supported him but I was there. I have requested the CJI and President of India for payment in those cases. CJI has referred my matter to SCLSC for the payment. I will pay lordship," he submitted.
 
However, the Court said that his application seeking extension of payment of costs was misconceived. 
 
"We still grant time till August 5 for him to pay else contempt would be issued," it ordered.
 
Pande was purportedly referring to the PIL filed by him in 2018 seeking that rules be framed for constituting benches and allotting jurisdiction to different benches in the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
 
The PIL was filed in the wake of the unprecedent press conference held by four Supreme Court judges in 2018, in which they aired their differences with then CJI Misra. Among the grievances the four judges raised was the fact that important cases were not being listed before them.
 
A Bench headed by CJI Misra had heard Pande's PIL for a short while before reserving verdict in the matter. Two days later, it delivered a 16-page verdict asserting the power of the CJI as 'master of the roster'.
 
Meanwhile, Pande was today rebuked by a different bench before which he was seeking a reprieve from the costs imposed on him in another case.
 
He moved an application related to the 1 lakh costs imposed on him for challenging the restoration of the Lok Sabha membership of Nationalist Congress Party Leader Mohammed Faizal.
 
"Please recall the costs. I don't have money," Pande submitted before the Bench of Justices BR Gavai and KV Vishwanathan.
 
However, the Court refused to consider his request. 
 
"If you don't leave the Court, we will have to embarrass ourselves," Justice Gavai told Pande.
 
As the Court started to dictate the order, Pande interjected and again made reference to his cases pertaining to CJI Misra.
 
"I am requesting with folded hands. This is no contempt, sir. I have filed petitions in cases pertaining to CJI Dipak Misra when allegations were imposed on him. Nobody came forward. A cost of 25,000 was imposed against me when I challenged appointment of Bombay High Court Chief Justice, but order mentions 5 lakh...Please remove costs from this case," he submitted.
 
At one point, he appealled to Justice Gavai,
 
"You are also going to be next CJI!"
 
To this, Justice Gavai said,
 
"God knows!"
 
The Court then warned Pande that it would call security to escort him out of the courtroom.
 
That was not the end of the issue. In the afternoon, Pande made a mentioning before the Bench of CJI DY Chandrachud in relation to another case in which 5 lakh costs had been imposed on him.
 
He alleged that a judge had threatened to take away his license.
 
"Behes ke waqt thoda garma garmi ho jati hai [At times, hearings can become quite heated]. But you cannot make allegations like this on judges of the bench. They never misbehave with lawyers," CJI Chandrachud said in response.
 
The Court refused to intervene, saying that only the judge who is hearing the case can decide how to handle the matter before him or her.
 
The Supreme Court has pulled up Pande for frivolous litigation on a number of occasions.
 
In January this year, the top court imposed 1 lakh costs on him for challenging the reinstatement of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to the Lok Sabha.
 
In October last year, the top court dismissed his PIL challenging the appointment of Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya as Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court with 5 lakh costs. In this plea, Pande had claimed that the oath administered to Justice Upadhyaya was defective.
 
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