The Supreme Court has registered a suo motu criminal contempt case against journalist Rajdeep Sardesai for his August 2020 tweets criticising the judiciary. The case was registered by the apex court based on a petition by one Aastha Khurana, who had alleged that some of his tweets scandalized judiciary.
In September last year, Attorney General K K Venugopal had declined to give consent to initiate criminal contempt against Sardesai. According to Khurana's lawyer Omprakash, after the AG's refusal, the petitioner filed a fresh petition in the top court, which was registered as criminal contempt case on February 13, this year.
Referring to a tweet from August 14 and August 31, 2020, wherein Sardesai had commented on the contempt case against advocate Prashant Bhushan and the subsequent Re 1 fine imposed by the top court on him, Khurana had contended that Sardesai's statement is not only a cheap publicity stunt but a deliberate attempt to spread hatred in form of anti-India campaign on to protest and resist in every way against the top court and judiciary as a machinery.
“Prashant Bhushan held guilty of contempt by Supreme Court, sentence to be pronounced on August 20. This even as habeas corpus petitions of those detained in Kashmir for more than a year remain pending," Sardesai tweeted on August 14, 2020.
“Rs 1 token fine imposed by SC on Prashant Bhushan in contempt case. If he doesn’t pay it, then 3 months jail sentence. Clearly, court looking to wriggle out of an embarrassment of its own making," his August 31, 2020 tweet read. "More on @pbhushan1 case: FYI: Sec 67 of IPC stipulates -if fine < Rs. 50/-, imprisonment can’t exceed 2 months. SC has given 3 months. SC has no authority to debar practice- 5 Judge Bench ruling of SC in VC Misra’s case. Why can’t SC apologise and be done with it," he added.
Meanwhile, Khurana's plea contended that it is evident that Sardesai has disrespected the decision of the top court with impunity. "The Respondent (Sardesai) has wilfully disobeyed the decision of this Hon'ble Court and their conduct is contumacious. Therefore, a serious view of the conduct of the Respondent is required to be taken for ensuring proper administration of justice", said the plea. "Such remarks of the contemnor will seriously affect the Supreme Court which is highest court in which millions of Indians has faith", said the plea.
However, AG K K Venugopal had earlier said that Sardesai's statements are not of "so serious a nature as to undermine the majesty of the Supreme Court or lower its stature in the minds of the public.
(With IANS inputs)
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