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The matter pertains to the tweets allegedly made in support of an article written by Gurumurthy against the judgment setting aside the transit remand order against Bhima Koregaon Violence accused Gautam Navlakha in 2018.
The Delhi High Court today proceeded against Dr. Anand Ranganathan, Vivek Agnihotri, and Swarajya magazine ex-parte after nobody appeared for them in the suo-motu criminal contempt case in connection with relief provided by Justice S. Muralidhar to UAPA-accused Gautam Navlakha.
Noting that no one appeared for Ranganathan, Agnihotri, and Swarajya despite the service of notice, a bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Amit Sharma accordingly, proceeded with the hearing.
Earlier, on May 4, the Delhi High Court issued another notice against Vivek Agnihotri, Ranganathan, and S Gurumurthy in this matter.
On October 29, 2018, the high court had issued criminal contempt notice against S Gurumurthy for him tweeting an article alleging that Justice S Muralidhar was biased in passing an order releasing Gautam Navlakha from house arrest in the Bhima Koregaon violence case.
The bench had issued the notice after receiving a letter from Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao alleging contempt. The article tweeted by Gurumurthy was titled, "Why has Delhi High Court Justice Muralidhar's relationship with Gautam Navlakha not been disclosed?"
However, on October 14, 2019, the Delhi High Court removed Gurumurthy from the list of respondents in contempt matter after he issued an apology.
According to the NIA's chargesheet, Gautam Navlakha has been accused of supporting and encouraging membership of banned organizations CPI (Maoist), being a member of it, waging war & organizing ammunition supplies, collecting arms and ammunition with the intention to wage war and spreading secessionist and religious thought.
It may be noted that Dr. Ranganathan also issued a public statement on the notice issued by Delhi High Court stating that for his two tweets, that were unilaterally withheld by Twitter, he was made a party to the criminal contempt case. "4 years have passed. S Gurumurthy, for whom I stood, has since apologized. But I will not apologise," he said.
Dr. Ranganathan while elaborating on the incident stated, "In October of 2018, Gautam Navlakha was granted relief by a High court judge. S Gurumurthy and Vivek Agnihotri, who were critical of this action by the judge, were both suo motu slapped with criminal contempt of court. Not commenting on the merits of either their arguments or that of the judge's, I tweeted that 'I stand with them' and 'Whatever happened to dissent being the safety valve of democracy?' [incidentally, a phrase that was first uttered by the Supreme Court of India when Navlakha was arrested]."
"I stood with them not only because I am a free-speech absolutist but also as I fundamentally oppose the Contempt of Court charge, because of which I have even stood publicly with that rogue Prashant Bhushan even though I vehemently disagreed with his opinion of the judge and the judgment," Ranganathan added.
Dr. Ranganathan further said, "I repeat: I have done nothing wrong and I continue to oppose the criminal contempt of court charge and I remain a free-speech absolutist and so I will not apologise. I had once remarked: If I am not in jail right now it is because the State has decided I need not be jailed. The State is probably getting ready to decide otherwise. So be it."
Case Title: Court in its Own Motion Vs S. Gurumurthy
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