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HC notice to scribe over critical tweets against court in INX media case

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
The Delhi High Court today issued a notice to editor of a Chennai-based news magazine on a plea seeking contempt proceedings against him for allegedly criticising the court order granting protection from arrest to Karti Chidambaram in the INX media money laundering case.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and P S Teji sought the response of Swaminathan Gurumurthy, editor of 'Thuglak'-- a Tamil weekly magazine--on a petition filed by the Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA).
The petition had sought punishment for the editor for "lowering the authority" of the court by posting certain tweets in connection with its decision to protect Karti, son of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, from arrest till March 20.
The petition alleged that the editor never tendered an apology for making "scandalous" allegations against a judge of the division bench which had passed the order.
"The respondent (Gurumurthy) continues to instigate other misinformed followers by encouraging and supporting the opinions criticising the order of the division bench, and has also failed to tender to this court and judiciary as a whole an unconditional public apology," senior advocate Kirti Uppal, appearing for the DHCBA, said.
The editor, in his tweets soon after the March 9 order, had posed a question as to whether Justice Muralidhar, who was part of the bench which had passed the order granting protection to Karti, was a junior of former UPA minister and senior advocate P Chidambaram.
"The fact that he was least bothered to ascertain the facts before making such scandalous allegations against not only the judge, but on the judiciary as a whole, prima facie amounts to criminal contempt," the petition filed through advocates Sidharth Chopra and Aman Bhalla said.
A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta had on March 12 taken up the issue on its own after judges from Tamil Nadu forwarded the tweets in question to it.
The bench had dubbed as "mischievous" certain tweets by Gurumurthy saying the tweets, posted within a few hours of the court's March 9 order in the INX media case, immediately invited responses which spread "misinformation in the innuendo several times over by not sparing the judge presiding over the matter nor the judiciary".
It had also noted that despite the tweets by others in response to the innuendo and clarifying the correct position, "he (editor) cared not to withdraw the mischievous and false tweet".
The court, which had taken suo motu cognisance of the issue, said while it was conscious that such tweets were "ill informed" and were "best ignored", but since the person in question was an editor of a popular magazine having over 259,000 followers, it considered it appropriate to place the correct information.
In its March 9 order, the high court had also made it clear that if the special court granted Karti bail in the corruption case registered by the CBI, the ED would not arrest him till the next hearing before the high court on March 20.

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First Published: Apr 26 2018 | 9:00 PM IST

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