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No suo motu contempt case registered against journalist Rajdeep Sardesai: SC clarifies

3 min read

Sushree Mohanty

A day after the Supreme Court’s official website indicated that the Hon’ble Court has accepted a petition seeking a criminal contempt case against popular journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, the court’s Deputy Registrar (public relation) Rakesh Sharma said that it was an “inadvertent mistake”.

“This is in context with news item being flashed in some news channels about initiating suo moto criminal contempt proceeding against Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai by Supreme court, it is made clear that no such proceeding has been initiated against Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai,” an official statement released by the Supreme Court read.

The statement additionally added that the requisite actions are undertaken to rectify the mistake.

The Supreme Court’s official website recently displayed that it has filed a suo motu criminal contempt case against Rajdeep Sardesai regarding his tweets scrutinizing the judiciary in August 2020. 

The case was filed dependent on a complaint recorded by Aastha Khurana, who affirmed that such assaults were “done deliberately to slander and disrespect the image of the court.”

Earlier in September 2020, the Attorney General for India, K.K. Venugopal, had dismissed the same complaint and held that Sardesai’s comments were not all that genuine or serious as to “subvert the magnificence of the Supreme Court

“Trifling remarks and mere passing of criticism though perhaps distasteful are unlikely to tarnish the image of the institution,” had added.

Subsequently, the petitioner documented a new appeal in the Supreme Court. In her new plea, Khuranna emphasized on numerous tweets by the journalist and affirmed that in addition to the fact that Sardesai questioned “the validity of this Hon’ble Court judgment, he has additionally passed criticizing remarks against the Ex-Judges and Ex-Chief Justice of India in past and have likewise attempted to direct the Hon’ble Judges their obligations and duties.”

The applicant alluded to a tweet by Sardesai on August 31, after the Supreme Court condemned attorney Prashant Bhushan to a Re 1 fine in the contempt case wherein Sardesai had tweeted, “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, the court is looking to wriggle out of an embarrassment of its own making.”

Khurana referred to another tweet from August 14, the day Bhushan had been indicted for the contempt of court case, and Sardesai had contrasted the quickness and which the top court had conveyed a judgment in Prashant Bhushan’s case while habeas corpus petitions of those detained in custody in Kashmir were all the while pending.

“Prashant Bhushan was held guilty of contempt by the Supreme Court, a 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 said in his tweet.

The petitioner likewise claimed that Sardesai had projected slanders on Justice Arun Mishra by means of a tweet, which was subsequently deleted, yet had gotten “a huge media exposure” and “scrutinized the reasonableness” of the court. 

A similar tweet was also highlighted by Khurana that dated to 2019, wherein Sardesai posted, “one of the judges told me last week that the Ayodhya case is not political! Would the CJI go to Kashmir too before tackling the Article 370 case? You are the CJI Mr.Gogoi, not the DGP!!Not yet at least”

Khurana further presented that since Sardesai was a notable figure, his assertion on the top legal body of the nation demonstrates a danger to the general public, which will prompt no trust on the legal executive and the justice will not be conveyed to the individuals since they will have little to no faith on the Hon’ble Court and all the respect for the Court will start to deplete.