SC registers suo motu contempt case against journalist Rajdeep Sardesai for his tweets

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New Delhi, Feb 16 (PTI) The Supreme Court has registered a suo motu contempt case against journalist Rajdeep Sardesai for his tweets allegedly scandalising judiciary.

The case was registered following a petition filed by one Aastha Khurana through advocate Om Prakash Parihar under Article 129 of the Constitution to the Chief Justice of India for initiating contempt proceedings against Sardesai.

On September 17, 2020, Attorney General K K Venugopal had declined his consent to initiate contempt action against Sardesai for the same set of tweets.

“That the present contempt petition under Article 129 of the Constitution of India is being filed by the petitioner against the alleged contemnor/respondent for wilful disobedient comments passed on each and every decision/judgement passed by this court which leads to cause disrespect to the superior court of India in the minds of citizens of India”, the plea has said.

The petition was filed on September 21, 2020 and it was registered as suo motu case on February 13.

Article 129,of the Constitution states that the Supreme Court shall be a court of record and shall have all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of itself.

Criminal contempt of the Supreme Court is punishable with a fine of up to Rs 2,000 and imprisonment of up to six months.

The plea has said that the top court in the past has passed various landmark judgements and on each judgement, the alleged contemnor has passed various disrespectful comments and questioned the fairness and credibility of the court.

It referred to tweet by Sardesai made on August 31, 2020 in respect to the top court verdict imposing a fine of Rs one on advocate Prashant Bhushan for contempt of court. “That the alleged contemnor/respondent on the same date on August 31, 2020 in the same matter of Prashant Bhushan tried to spread feeling of no confidence on the court amongst public and even stated the apology by the court for its reject judgements”, the plea said, and referred to various other tweets made by Sardesai regarding judiciary.

Khurana in her plea further said that the alleged contemnor/respondent has not only questioned the credibility of this court's judgements, but “he has also passed various comments against the ex-judges and ex-chief justices of India in past and have also tried to teach the judges their duties and responsibilities”. The plea sought an order initiating contempt proceedings against the respondent/contemnor for wilful and deliberate disobedience of the orders/judgements passed by the top court and to punish the respondent/contemnor in accordance with law.

On September 17, last year, the Attorney General while declining the consent to initiate contempt action has said, “I have gone through the tweets as well as the contents of your contempt petition in some details. The petition adverts to five tweets allegedly published by Shri Sardesai on his twitter page. I am proceeding on the basis that the tweets referred to have in fact made.

“I have given careful consideration to the tweets. I find that the statements made by Shri Sardesai 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. “The imputation of the Supreme Court as one of the great pillars of our democracy has been built assiduously over the last 70 years. Trifling remarks and mere passing criticism though perhaps distasteful are unlikely to tarnish the image of the institution,” Venugopal had said in a letter written to Parihar.

The consent of either the Attorney General or the Solicitor General is necessary, under section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, for initiating contempt proceedings against a person. PTI MNL SJK MNL RKS RKS RKS