The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday sentenced advocate Yatin Oza to its custody till "rising of the court" and also imposed a fine of Rs 2,000 on him for criminal contempt over his remark calling the court a "gambling den".
After pronouncing the sentence, the court stayed its order for 60 days so that Oza could file an appeal against the order under Section 19 of the Contempt of Courts Act. Oza, who is the president of the Gujarat High Court Advocates'' Association (GHCAA), was held guilty by the high court on Tuesday after it took up the matter suo motu (on its own).
A division bench of Justices Sonia Gokani and Justice NV Anjaria on Wednesday awarded Oza a sentence of custody "till rising of the court" and Rs 2,000 fine, failing which he will have to undergo two-month imprisonment, said advocate Nisha Thakore, who appeared on behalf of the HC in the case.
"The court said even at this stage it does not accept the unconditional apology that the respondent contemner had tendered in the past, and awarded him nominal sentence," she said.
The court also heard arguments of both sides on the matter of stay of the sentence under relevant section of the Contempt of the Court Act.
"The court stayed its order for 60 days so that he could file an appeal against the order," she said.
The HC had initiated suo motu criminal contempt proceedings against Oza for calling it a "gambling den," and an institution "which caters only to the litigants with means and money power, smugglers and those who are traitors".
The court had called his remarks "extremely unfortunate and absolutely unpalatable."
On Tuesday, the court had held Oza guilty of criminal contempt of the court.
"In view of the discussion above, this court in exercise of powers conferred upon it under Article 215 of the Constitution of India and section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, holds the respondent contemner guilty of committing criminal contempt of this court within the meaning of section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971," the HC said.
The court had refused to accept the "unconditional apology" of Oza, who was also stripped of his designation as a senior advocate for the remark made against the court in a press conference held on Facebook Live on June 6.
The Supreme Court on June 16 refused to entertain his plea against the contempt proceedings, saying he should go back to the high court.
The full court of the Gujarat HC had also recently rejected his apology made with the request to re-confer him his designation as senior advocate that he was stripped of over his contemptuous remarks.
The full court had recalled its order conferring designation of senior advocate to Oza after taking note of his alleged remarks.
Initiating suo motu criminal contempt proceedings against Oza, the court said he made "false and contemptuous allegations of corruption, malpractices against the administration of the High Court".
Oza called the HC a gambline den to spread sensationalism, the court observed on June9 while slapping him with the notice under Sections 2(c) and 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act for criminal contempt.
It had said such "remarks appear to have been made without any substantive basis and without any intent to know the truth as also without approaching the honourable Chief Justice for any inquiry as the head of the institution..."
His "scandalous expressions and indiscriminate as well as baseless utterances" has attempted to cause "serious damage to the prestige and majesty of the High Court," it said.