In a development that has sent shock waves through the corridors of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday summarily dismissed two court officers for tampering with an order passed by a bench led by Justice Rohinton Nariman in contempt court against Reliance Group Anil Ambani.
The development was first reported by The Telegraph on Thursday.
Court masters Tapan Kumar and Manav Sharma, who held the rank of assistant registrar, were dismissed by the chief justice using his extraordinary powers as the court’s top administrator.
The case relates to a contempt of court petition moved by telecom giant Ericsson against Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications for failing to pay a sum of Rs 550 crore that is due to it.
In January, a bench led by Justice Nariman issued notices on the petition and asked Anil Ambani to appear in person, as it is the usual norm in contempt proceedings. However, the order uploaded on the Supreme Court website stated that personal appearance of the contemnors has been dispensed with.
The error was brought to the notice of the bench by Ericsson’s lawyers. The bench on January 10 amended the order and asked Ambani and others to appear in person. The judgement in the case was reserved on Wednesday.
Justice Gogoi’s decision to dismiss the officials court masters followed a complaint by the bench led by Justice Nariman, who had warned the contemnors on Wednesday that they would have to face consequences for disobeying the orders of the court.
A Supreme Court official said an investigation into the matter will continue. “We don’t think this is going to end with just two court masters,” an official said.