The Supreme Court has set aside the Madhya Pradesh High Court order awarding three months jail to a professor for contempt for casting aspersions on some HC judges, saying he was not in a "proper frame of mind".
The court said professor Lavit Rawtani, who teaches Information Technology at Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal (MANIT), cannot be held responsible for his actions as he was not in the right frame of mind.
A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar passed the order after perusing a report submitted by the Board of Doctors which concluded that he was "suffering from chronic schizophrenia and needs regular psychiatric treatment".
The apex court had on May 4 accepted the plea of the professor's wife, who pleaded in person before the court that her husband was schizophrenic and "not fit and stable".
The top court had also stayed the arrest and detention order of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
"It is not possible for us to accept that the husband of the petitioner was in a proper frame of mind during the course of the proceedings in the High Court leading up to the impugned order.
"As such, he cannot be held responsible for his actions. Since he did not understand the consequences of his actions, the impugned order passed by the High Court on March 2, 2017, ordering his conviction for contempt of court and sentencing him to three months' simple imprisonment, is unsustainable. The same is, accordingly, hereby set aside," the bench, also comprising Justice D Y Chandrachud, said.
The apex court asked the wife to ensure proper treatment to her husband to alleviate his medical condition and said "in case she is unable to do so, recourse may be made to Mental Healthcare Act to administer treatment to the husband of the petitioner."
The Jabalpur bench of the MP High Court had initiated contempt proceedings against the professor on March 2 for making reckless allegations against judges and not tendering unconditional apology. It had sentenced him to three months simple jail term on April 6, holding him guilty of contempt.
The professor had first filed a PIL in 2014 challenging some appointments made in MANIT and demanding a probe, which the High Court had dismissed asking him to file a writ petition.
Subsequently, he refused to file a writ petition espousing his cause and started sending speed posts containing contemptuous contents to High Court judges.
The High Court had taken up the matter suo motu (on its own) and initiated contempt proceedings against him.
The wife of the professor moved the High Court on April 25 seeking time to appeal against the order in Supreme Court and stay on the arrest of her husband.