PCI lawyer pleads waiver claiming the PCI is a “charitable” organisation
Delhi Crown Bureau
New Delhi: The Patiala House court has slapped a monetary fine of Rs. 12,000 on Advocate Imran Ali, the lawyer of the Press Club of India (PCI) for non-appearance, misbehaving with a lady judge and raising “contemptuous contentions” in a case pertaining to termination of Club Membership (by the PCI) of a senior journalist in the year 2016.
In 2016 the then PCI Managing Committee headed by Anand Sahay had terminated the membership of a senior journalist on “unfounded” grounds and without giving the journalist a chance for explanation. Subsequently, the senior journalist had moved the court pleading justice.
While hearing the case, Lady Judge Amardeep Kaur had on November 30 (2022) directed Advocate Imran Ali to deposit the cost of Rs 12,000. However, the latter failed to do so. On the next date of hearing, i.e. Jan. 24, 2023 (Tuesday), the PCI lawyer abstained from appearance and sent a proxy counsel instead to appear on his behalf.
Senior Advocate (AoR) Ravinder Kumar Yadav, who runs a law firm “The Legal Solutions”, has been representing the senior journalist in the said case.
Initially, in December 2021 a cost of Rs. 2,000 was imposed on Advocate Imran Ali by Lady Judge Preeti, who was eventually transferred to a different court, for his continuous absent from the court despite several notices. This, Advocate Imran Ali did while adopting delaying tactics to frustrate and prolong the suit filed by the senior journalist.
Infuriated at this (imposition of cost Rs 2,000), on the following date the PCI lawyer Imran Ali misbehaved with Lady Judge Preeti. Despite repeated warnings from the lady judge to him to maintain decorum of the court, Imran Ali went on and on, shouting at the lady judge.
Eventually the lady judge had to shout back at him saying “Shut Up”. Subsequent to that episode, PCI lawyer Imran Ali had shied away from appearing in the court.
Taking a strong note of Advocate Imran Ali’s “misbehaviour” with her predecessor and the subsequent delaying tactics adopted by him, Lady Judge Amardeep Kaur raised the monetary fine from Rs 2,000 to Rs 12,000. The fine has been imposed on Advocate Imran Ali in his individual capacity.
However, during the hearing on Jan. 24, 2023 his proxy counsel pleaded before the court to waive off the fine of Rs 12,000 claiming the PCI was a “charitable organisation”.
Not yielding to the proxy counsel’s plea, Lady Judge Amardeep Kaur insisted on payment of the cost (Rs 12,000) to the Plaintiff as a pre-condition to allow the evidence of Defendant Witness (DW) Neeraj Thakur, a journalist who was a part of the Managing Committee in the year 2016. Several other DWs, including former PCI president Anand Sahay, former Managing Committee member Ajay Jha, Club Secretary Jitendra Singh, have already deposed before the court in past years.
Finally, on Jan. 24, 2023 when Advocate Imran Ali’s proxy counsel failed to pay the cost of Rs 12,000, the Lady Judge disallowed DW Neeraj Thakur’s evidence and posted the matter for March 29.
In her order, Lady Judge Amardeep Kaur stated – “While the contentions as raised by the defendant (Advocate Imran Ali) in his application are contemptuous in nature, a lenient view is being taken at this stage, and the defendant is being warned against making such remarks in future.”
She also added – “It is clarified that payment of cost imposed shall be a condition precedent to the recording of Defence Evidence. It is further clarified that no pass-over/adjournment shall be granted on the next date of hearing and all remaining defence witnesses shall be examined and cross-examined on next date of hearing itself.”
After seven long years, the case is at the stage of Final Arguments.