Delhi High Court summons filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri in 2018 contempt case related to adverse remarks against Justice S Muralidhar
The High Court of Delhi directed filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri on Thursday to appear in person before it on April 10 in connection with the 2018 suo motu criminal contempt proceedings initiated against him and several others for making adverse remarks against Justice S. Muralidhar.
The filmmaker today appeared before the Division Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh through video conference (VC) and said that he could not attend the proceedings in person due to high fever.
The High Court asked the Counsel appearing for the filmmaker about the previous order, which had directed personal appearance of Agnihotri in the case. It further asked the Counsel, “When was he going to be here?”
The Bench then observed that it was not asking for Agnihotri’s permission, but rather directing him to appear before it.
Noting that this ‘tweeting’ had become sort of a ‘pandemic,’ the High Court ordered the filmmaker to remain present before it on the next date of hearing, which was fixed at April 10.
While the High Court was listing a similar petition moved by the Delhi High Court Bar Association for hearing on April 10, Agnihotri’s Counsel agreed that the suo motu proceedings be listed on the same day.
The filmmaker had allegedly posted a tweet in 2018 against Justice Muralidhar, former judge of the High Court and present Chief Justice of Orissa High Court, after he quashed the house arrest and transit remand of activist Gautam Navlakha in the Bhima Koregaon violence case.
Agnihotri had tendered an unconditional apology before the court in December last year for his remarks. The High Court then directed him to remain present before it on the next date, in order to ‘show’ his remorse in person.
The Counsel appearing for Scientist Anand Ranganathan, another alleged contemner, today apprised the Bench that his client was willing to participate in the proceedings. Amicus Curiae Senior Advocate Arvind Nigam then submitted that Ranganathan has tweeted that he would never apologise for his tweets.
As per Nigam, the Scientist had said that he woulld never apologise and that he would go down fighting. Amicus further said that subsequent tweets made by Ranganathan were contumacious.
The High Court responded to this by asking why would he go down fighting, since this was not a civil war.
The High Court had initiated ex-parte proceedings in September 2022 against Swarajya news portal, Anand Ranganathan and others, who did not appear in the matter.
The proceedings were initiated after Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao wrote a letter to the court stating that the tweet was a deliberate attempt to attack a sitting High Court judge.
Previously, Agnihotri had told court that he had taken down the tweet in question. However, Amicus Curiae Senior Advocate Arvind Nigam apprised the Bench that Twitter in its response has said that the tweets were taken down by the micro-blogging platform.