Babu faces bench hunting allegations.

  • Published Oct 28, 2023 | 5:46 PMUpdated Oct 28, 2023 | 5:46 PM
  • Published Oct 28, 2023 | 5:46 PMUpdated Oct 28, 2023 | 5:46 PM
Babu faces bench hunting allegations.

In his bail hearing, which was scheduled during vacation court at his request, the learned judge found that the vakalat was changed between the last date of hearing and today’s date. The counsel now appearing with consent of the counsel already on record is the husband of a fellow judicial officer, known to her, and is in the “not before list “in her court.

The judge painfully recorded that her conscience does not permit her to say anything more about the Vakalat change issue. The judge directed that the matter be posted on Monday after obtaining instructions from the Chief Justice. However, liberty was also left to the petitioner to plead for urgent listing before the registry as per the rules.

The process involved is that when a case is listed before a particular judge or a bench and for reasons, best known to them, the party / counsel wishes to avoid the bench, they immediately change the appearance/vakalat of the existing Advocate and get it replaced with the no objection vakalat of counsel, who is notified to be” not before counsel “Before that particular judge.

This process has now mutated into getting consent vakalaths filed by advocates or counsels who are notified to be “not before counsel” before that particular judge or a member of the of the bench.

The recent case in the AP High Court involving former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu has thrown open this question and has brought back the spotlight on this ugly practice of Forum hunting through filing of vakalath a by “not before counsel” to avoid the bench / judge hearing the matter.

Former chief minister, Naidu had filed a CRL P petition 7951 of 2023 seeking bail in crime number 29 of 2021 in what is now popularly known as skill development Case. The said matter was initially listed on 12 10. 2023 before the bench comprising of the learned single judge Justice Suresh Reddy. The respondent had sought time to file the counter and the matter Was adjourned to 17 October 2023. when the matter was listed on the said date The respondent had filed counter and the counsel for the petitioner sought time and the matter was listed on 19 10. 2023.

On 19 October 2023 when the learned Judge was hearing the matter, the counsel for the petitioner had specifically sought for the matter to be listed in the vacation court. Scheduled on 27.10. 2023.

This is where the things take an ugly turn. Having specifically sought an adjournment to the vacation court, the petitioner got a consent vakalat filed by another advocate.

Interestingly, after the court closed for the Dussehra vacation and the vacation judges were notified. The matter was supposed to be listed for hearing before a particular judge and voila the new counsel who has filed the consent vakalat is a notified,” not before me counsel”before the judge presiding over the bench in the vacation court.

on 27.10. 2023, when the matter is taken up in the vacation court by the judge presiding over the bench, request is made that since the counsel who has filed a consent appearance in the matter is a notified “not before Counsel” before the learned judge she should not take up the matter for hearing and direct the registry to take steps to get the matter listed urgently before any other bench in on the very same day.

But for the vacation notification issued by the honourable chief Justice, where in the power to allocate matters, was retained by the honourable chief justice to himself during the vacation, The petitioner counsels would have rushed to the senior judge preceding over the vacation court as was done on several occasions earlier and would have got the matter listed on the very same day Before another learned judge.

This issue of avoiding the bench by filing vakalat of notified, “not before counsel” till the matter reaches a be…