“We’ve filed an affidavit”: Adv J Sai Deepak for Dr Anand Ranganathan tells Delhi High Court in 2018 Contempt Case

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Court was hearing the suo-motu criminal contempt case initiated against Ranganathan and others in 2018 in connection with relief provided by Justice S. Muralidhar to UAPA-accused Gautam Navlakha

Author, Dr. Anand Ranganathan’s counsel Advocate J Sai. Deepak submitted before the Delhi High Court on Wednesday, “As directed in the last hearing an affidavit has been filed clarifying that his speech was never meant to be read as a comment on the facts". 

The division bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anish Dayal was hearing the suo-motu criminal contempt case initiated against Ranganathan and others in 2018 in connection with relief provided by Justice S. Muralidhar to UAPA-accused Gautam Navlakha.

At the outset, Adv Deepak submitted, "My lords rightly observed on the last hearing that he is just a conceptual objector, who believes in absolute free speech but beyond that he has no dog in the race, no skin in the game". 

"Mr. J. Sai Deepak appearing for Dr. Anand Ranganathan, although he says that an affidavit has been filed, the same is on the record. The same is to be placed on record with a copy to the learned amicus curiae", the court ordered. 

Additionally, the counsel for the Editor of Swaraj Magazine submitted, "I am also filing an affidavit tendering unconditional apology. The same is already on record. The editor is present in person, and has come from Bangalore".

Justice Mirdul asked the counsel for the Editor of Swaraj magazine, "What did he say that was found offensive?"

The counsel responded, "He had in fact only reproduced portions of the information that was already available in the public domain. The article had been taken down in 2018 itself".

Justice Mridul said, "Reproduction of anything is categorised as plagiarism. So, all that you're guilty of is plagiarism". 

The Editor of Swaraj Magazine appearing in person submitted, "What we did was, we reported on certain news, certain person saying something but it was not an editorial comment...So we've only published a news item".

Justice Mridul said, "See the point is that the law is very simple. We welcome just and fair criticism. We welcome just and fair criticism. If you have any just and fair criticism of the court you're free to hold it forth. What cannot be appreciated is that something that obstructs the functioning of this court. That we will not tolerate. We are very concerned if the system that works is obstructed. It seems you haven't obstructed anything at all. You've just plagiarised".

"We can dispense your presence for the next hearing. He is present here today, he need not be there next time. The matter will be heard next on November 9", the court ordered. 

On the last hearing, Advocate J Sai Deepak had appeared for Ranganathan, who was present before the court. Deepak had submitted that the tweet that he put out was not with respect to the contempt, nothing related to the judge. He had also submitted that he would file an affidavit clearing his position in the case.

Ranganathan, appearing in person, had 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 had 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”.

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 notices 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 court 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