SC slaps contempt case against journalist

Despite A-G’s refusal, case registered against Rajdeep Sardesai.

The Supreme Court has registered a suo motu criminal contempt case against senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai for some of his tweets.

The case was registered by the court in a plea filed by Astha Khurana, represented by advocate Omprakash Parihar, that Mr. Sardesai deliberately attempted to undermine the public faith and confidence in the judiciary with his tweets. The Supreme Court website shows the case was registered on February 13, 2021.

Mr. Sardesai’s tweets were in connection with the Supreme Court verdict last year, punishing civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan with a ₹1 fine for his tweets “scandalising the court”.

Venugopal declines

The court registered the suo motu contempt case against Mr. Sardesai even though Attorney General K.K. Venugopal had, in September last year, declined his consent.

In September, Mr. Venugopal had refused permission to initiate contempt against the journalist, saying in a one-page letter addressed to Mr. Parihar that “trifling remarks and mere passing criticism, though perhaps distasteful, are unlikely to tarnish the image of the institution”.

“I have given careful consideration to the tweets. I find the statements made by Mr. Sardesai are not of so serious nature as to undermine the majesty of the Supreme Court or lower its stature in the minds of the public… The reputation of the Supreme Court as one of the great pillars of our democracy has been built assiduously over,” Mr. Venugopal had written in his reply to the contempt plea.

However, Ms. Khurana had pursued her case by filing a plea in the Supreme Court, saying the “contemnor tweet is of serious nature putting a big question on sovereign function of Supreme Court and their abiding nature to the Constitution”. 

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