Monday, July 15, 2024

Important to put a quietus to all this: Delhi HC in contempt case against journo S. Gurumurthy

The Delhi High Court on Thursday expressed its inclination for ending the matter of the criminal contempt petition by its bar association against RSS ideologue and journalist S. Gurumurthy for his tweet directed at its former judge, Justice S. Muralidhar, who is presently the Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court.

A division bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Gaurang Kanth, hearing a petition by the Delhi High Court Bar Association against Gurumurthy for his tweet in which he questioned whether Justice Muralidhar had been a junior to senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram, said that Gurumurthy has already expressed remorse over the tweet and said that it “can’t have Damocles’ sword hanging on somebody’s head” as the case has been pending for five years.

“This contempt has been pending since 2018… In our view the gentleman has appeared and expressed remorse. Sometimes it is important to put a quietus. We don’t know why DHCBA is so keen,” the bench said.

However, Justice Mridul asked the counsel for the association to seek instructions on whether it still intended to prosecute Gurumurthy, as it noted several issues with the case.

“Sooner or later, there has to be quietus to it. There are a number of issues when a third party filed an application for contempt. This is not suo motu. You have to obtain instructions from the law officer, the advocate general,” it said.

The court then listed the matter for hearing on July 13.

Gurumurthy had earlier informed the he would not file a second affidavit offering a “unconditional apology”.

His tweet was sent out after a bench headed by Justice Muralidhar halted the Enforcement Directorate from any coercive action against Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram.

The Justice Muralidhar-led bench had acknowledged the tweet but stated that he has never worked as a subordinate to Chidambaram.

Earlier, senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani had appeared on behalf of Gurumurthy and had claimed that the tweet was removed after the court took cognisance and the judge’s clarification on the position.

He told a division bench of Justices Mridul and Talwant that Gurumurthy had already submitted an affidavit in the case in which he expressed regret.

Justice Talwant Singh had then said: “I am sorry, but this is not an apology. File a two-line apology and put a quietus to this. Say it on affidavit and the matter ends.”

In response, Jethmalani had stated that Gurumurthy even appeared before the Justice Mridul-led bench and that there was no intention to commit the contempt. However, the court had emphasised that Gurumurthy might apologise in an affidavit and the matter would be resolved. To which, Jethmalani had said that Gurumurthy will not be filing another affidavit. The bench, therefore, had said that it will hear the issue on merits.

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