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Ranganathan, appearing in person, said, “I am a free absolutist. Honored to be here. I did not comment on what the judge said. I made a general statement on the contempt. That’s it.”
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday granted author, Dr. Anand Ranganathan, four weeks' time to file an affidavit in a criminal contempt case of 2018 over his alleged remarks against a judge.
The division bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh was hearing the suo-motu criminal contempt case initiated against him and others in 2018 in connection with relief provided by Justice S. Muralidhar to UAPA-accused Gautam Navlakha.
During the hearing today, Advocate J Sai Deepak appeared for Ranganathan, who was present before the court. Deepak submitted that the tweet that he put out was not with respect to the contempt, nothing related to the judge. He also submitted that he would file an affidavit clearing his position in the case.
Ranganathan, appearing in person, said, “I am a free absolutist. Honored to be here. I did not comment on what the Judge said. I made a general statement on the contempt. That’s it.”
To this, Justice Mridul said, “As long as whatever you said is not scandalous, you are free to say anything…We are all for free speech. But there are occasions when after we have said something, we regret saying that”.
Accordingly, the court granted four weeks to Ranganathan to file his response in the matter and said, “We are not saying anything further about your presence and we have recorded your presence today”.
The matter will be taken up next on October 11, 2023.
Notably, in April Indian Film Director Vivek Agnihotri tendered an ‘unconditional apology and remorse’ to the court and was ‘discharged’ from the contempt petition.
The matter pertains to the tweets allegedly made in support of an article written by S Gurumurthy against the judgment setting aside the transit remand order against Bhima Koregaon Violence accused Gautam Navlakha in 2018.
It is to be noted that on October 29, 2018, the high court issued criminal contempt notice against Gurumurthy and others for tweeting the article alleging that Justice S Muralidhar was biased in passing the order releasing Gautam Navlakha from house arrest.
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.
In September 2022, the high court proceeded against Dr. Anand Ranganathan, Vivek Agnihotri, and Swarajya magazine ex-parte after nobody appeared for them in the matter.
Case Title: Court in its Own Motion Vs S. Gurumurthy
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