A Bench of Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon of Delhi High Court today dismissed Secretary Ashok Arora’s appeal against order refusing to stay his removal from the post of Secretary, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA). (Ashok Arora vs SCBA)
The court said,
We do not find any reason to interfere with the learned single Judge’s order. The appeal is dismissed.
The Court was dealing with Secretary Ashok Arora’s appeal against the order passed by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Mukta Gupta in the suit preferred by Secretary Ashok Arora against his ouster.
The Single Judge had opined that Secretary Ashok Arora had failed to make out any prima facie case in his favour for grant of injunction against his removal. Following Arora’s call for an Emergent General Meeting to remove Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave from the post of SCBA President, the Executive Council of SCBA had suspended Arora from the position of the Secretary with immediate effect.
Before the Single Judge as well as the Division Bench, Secretary Ashok Arora argued that his ouster was void ab initio, as it was in violation of Rule 35 of the SCBA Rules.
As per Arora, the power to suspend or expel a member rested with the General House of SCBA and same had to be decided after an inquiry into a complaint of misconduct is carried out by a committee.
SCBA, on the other hand, had contended that Secretary Ashok Arora’s reliance on Rule 35 was misplaced as it only dealt with the issue of removal of a member.
In its order, the Single Judge had agreed with SCBA’s stand and ruled that Rule 35 had no application to the suspension/termination of the status/position of a member of SCBA as an office-bearer of its Association.
The Executive Committee of the SCBA had passed a resolution on May 8, suspending Arora from the post of secretary with immediate effect in a meeting held through online conference.
The suspension had come a day after Arora had called an emergent general meeting (EGM) of the lawyers’ body on May 11 to deliberate on the agenda for removing senior advocate Dushyant Dave from the post of SCBA president.
The Executive Committee had also cancelled the proposed EGM and decided to set up a three-member panel to look into the allegations against Arora, an SCBA official had said.
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The official had said the decision to suspend Arora was taken by the majority of participating lawyers.
The BCI had on May 10 stayed the May 8 decision of the Executive Committee of the SCBA to suspend Arora with immediate effect by terming the suspension as “illegal, cavalier, undemocratic and autocratic”.
Differences appeared among the top office bearers in the SCBA over the stand taken by the lawyers’ body on a ‘resolution’ concerning statements made by Justice Arun Mishra (since retired) about Prime Minister Narendra Modi at International Judicial Conference-2020.
BCI had told the high court that the apex lawyers’ body has already stayed the resolution of SCBA but the association has not agreed to it.
In his suit, Arora has sought to declare the SCBA resolution as void ab initio, ultra vires to the rules and regulations of the SCBA and as such liable to be quashed and declared null and void.
The suit also sought to pass a decree of permanent injunction in favour of Arora and against SCBA, thereby restraining it and its office bearers and employees from interfering in the functioning of plaintiff (Arora) to perform his duties as duly elected secretary of SCBA for the remaining term for which he was elected.
It has sought a direction to the BCI to ensure that its May 10 resolution is duly implemented in letter and spirit by the SCBA.
Shortly after Dave had issued the February 25 ‘resolution’, allegedly signed by several members of the lawyers’ body expressing anguish and concern over Justice Mishra’s statements, Secretary Ashok Arora had claimed that “no resolution has been passed” as he did not sign the statement released to the media.
Secretary Ashok Arora had then said, “There was no executive council or general body meeting of the Association. The president has taken an arbitrary dictatorial and irresponsible stand. He cannot speak on behalf of SCBA without calling a general body meeting or meeting of the executive council on such a serious issue”.
He had said that all the communication to the media is to be sent through the chief executive officer (CEO), who is the general secretary of the SCBA.
“It is not a resolution in the eyes of law because it was not signed by me,” Secretary Ashok Arora had said, adding that Dave has made available to media a circular which contained suggestions of only six to seven members.
The lawyers’ body in its resolution had said, “The SCBA expresses its strong reservations on the statement and condemns the same strongly. The SCBA believes that the independence of the judiciary is the basic structure under the Constitution of India and that such independence be preserved in letter and spirit.”
On February 22, retired Justice Mishra was all praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi while delivering the vote of thanks at the inaugural function of the International Judicial Conference 2020 – ‘Judiciary and the Changing World’ and termed him as an “internationally acclaimed visionary” and a “versatile genius, who thinks globally and acts locally”.