Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Dushyant Dave on Tuesday wrote a letter to secretary general of the Supreme Court lodging strong protest on selective listing of journalist Arnab Goswami's interim bail plea in the 2018 case of alleged abetment to suicide of an interior designer, before a vacation bench on November 11. Goswami's bail plea will be taken up for hearing on Wednesday before a vacation bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee.
Dave clarified that he has nothing personal against Goswami and he is not writing this letter to anyway interfere in with his rights to move the Supreme Court as like all citizens, the editor-in-chief of Republic TV also has right to seek justice from the highest court.
"The serious issue here is selective listing of matters that the registry under your leadership is indulging in for last eight months during COVID pandemic. While thousands of citizens remain in jails, languishing for long periods while their matters filed before the Supreme Court are not getting listed for weeks and months, it is, to say the least, deeply disturbing as to how and why every time Goswami approaches the Supreme Court, his matter gets listed instantly," Dave said in his letter.
The SCBA chief further questioned, "Is there any special order or direction from the Chief Justice of India and the Master of the Roaster in this regard? and added that it is quite well known that such extraordinarily urgent listings of matters cannot and does not take place without specific orders from the Chief Justice."
He said, "Or is it that as the administrative head you (secretary general) or the registrar listing is giving special preference to Goswami? "
Dave said that it is on record, that time and again he has received requests from various Advocates-on-Record (AORs) to the effect that the matters filed by them are not getting listed for weeks and months though very urgent and involving serious issues requiring Court's urgent intervention including bail matters.
"They (advocates) have even complained, giving names, that certain AORs matters get instant listing while they have to wait in queue for long time," he added.
"I must place on record that in few cases you have kindly helped in getting such matters listed. But that is not the issue. Issue here is why is this selective listing taking place when system is supposedly computerised and is to work automatically? Why is it that despite the same, matters are getting circulated and that too before only few benches? Why is there no fool proof system to be just and fair to all Citizens and all AORs?" Dave questioned.
He said that even someone like former union minister P Chidambaram, could not get similar speed listing and had to spend long months in jail till finally the Supreme Court declares that he deserved to be bailed out .
"So, likes of Goswami gets special treatment while ordinary Indians are made to suffer, including Imprisonment, which are many times illegal and unauthorised," Dave pointed out.
He said Goswami's plea against the Bombay High Court order was filed yesterday, it got instant diary number, though not final, and it is listed for tomorrow (November 11). Various pleas by Goswami for his bail are and were being heard by three different courts- the Supreme Court, Bombay High Court and the Alibaug sessions court. Other than this, cases relating to privilege motion against him has also been heard by various courts.
"This is a gross abuse of administrative power, whosoever has exercised it on administrative side. It gives an impression that clients represented by certain lawyers are getting special treatment, which does not speak well of the great institution, that the Supreme Court is," he said.
Requesting that till fool proof system is installed to ensure urgent listing on well-known principles and till the matters filed by various AORs are listed, Dave said that the secretary general should not allow Goswami's plea to be heard.
He requested the secretary general to place his letter before the bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud which is scheduled to take up Goswami's plea.