The Supreme Court has registered a suo moto criminal contempt case against journalist Rajdeep Sardesai for the tweets he made in August 2020 critiquing the judiciary. The case was registered by the Supreme Court based on a petition by one Aastha Khurana, who highlighted multiple tweets by Sardesai which were against the Indian Judiciary. This included the Prashant Bhushan contempt of court in which the journalist remarked had that the case moved faster on that case than those “habeas corpus petitions of those detained in Kashmir for more than a year remain pending.” Many other older tweets attacked (Retd.) Justice Arun Mishra and former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
According to Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act and Rule 3 of Rules to Regulate Proceedings for Contempt of Supreme Court, the consent of the Attorney General or the Solicitor General is required to hear a criminal contempt petition filed by a private individual before it goes to the apex Court. Attorney General Venugopal refused to file the case since Sardesai’s tweets are not serious to undermine the majesty of the court or lower its stature in the minds of the public.
Ms. Khurana went on to file a petition before the Supreme Court stating that Sardesai questions the credibility of this Hon’ble Court judgment and passed various comments against the Ex-Judges and Ex-Chief Justice of India in the past and have also tried to teach the Hon’ble Judges how to do their duties and responsibilities. The Supreme Court then went on to register a Suo motu contempt case without the approval of the Attorney General.
UPDATE: The Supreme Court sources have now clarified that no Suo moto criminal contempt proceedings have been initiated against senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai. The status that was shown on the Supreme Court website was inadvertently shown. Ms. Khurana’s lawyer, Omprakash Parihar stated that the denial by the court was an “unexplainable mistake” by the SC registry.