The Supreme Court has suo motu registered a criminal contempt case against journalist Rajdeep Sardesai for his tweets posted in August last year in response to a contempt trial against lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
The criminal contempt case against the senior journalist was registered based on a complaint filed by one Aastha Khurana, who had earlier sought Attorney General KK Venugopal’s sanction to prosecute Sardesai. But the AG had refused to give his sanction.
Khurana, a resident of Haryana, highlighted several tweets posted by Sardesai both before and after the Supreme Court judgment in the contempt trial of Bhushan.
In a tweet posted on 14 August, Sardesai had written, “Prashant Bhushan held guilty of contempt by Supreme Court, sentence to be pronounced on August 20. This even as habeas corpus petitions of those detained in Kashmir for more than a year remain pending.”
His tweet after the top court imposed a token fine of Rs. 1 on Bhushan, had read, “Rs 1 token fine imposed by SC on Prashant Bhushan in contempt case. If he doesn’t pay it, then 3 months jail sentence. Clearly, court looking to wriggle out of an embarrassment of its own making.”
His subsequent tweet had read, “More on @pbhushan1 case: FYI: Sec 67 of IPC stipulates -if fine < Rs. 50/-, imprisonment can’t exceed 2 months. SC has given 3 months. SC has no authority to debar practice- 5 Judge Bench ruling of SC in VC Misra’s case. Why can’t SC apologise and be done with it!”
According to the Bar and Bench website, the complainant also made references to other tweets posted by Sardesai alleging that the journalist cast aspersion on Justice Arun Mishra, who had heard Prashant Bhushan’s contempt case, and former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
A report by the Livelaw website said that the case against Sardesai was registered as a Suo Moto(Criminal Contempt) case on 13 February, 2021(SMC(Crl) 2/2021).
Sardesai was recently in the news after India Today took him off-air for two weeks and deducted a month’s salary for a tweet that the veteran journalist posted on the death of a farmer on Republic Day.
Days later, an FIR was filed in Noida against Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, Sardesai, Zafar Agha and other journalists namely Mrinal Pande, Paresh Nath, Anant Nath and Vinod K. Jose for allegedly spreading misinformation in connection with 26 January’s farmers’ tractor rally.