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‘I did no wrong, so I won’t apologise’: Anand Ranganathan in contempt case over ‘whatever happened to dissent being safety valve of democracy’ remark

"I have done nothing wrong, and I continue to oppose the criminal contempt of court charge, and I remain a free-speech absolutist, and so I will not apologise," Dr Anand Ranganathan said in a statement released on Twitter.

On Tuesday (December 6), scientist and author Dr Anand Ranganathan refused to apologise for supporting remarks made by filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri and S Gurumurthy condemning Justice S Muralidhar for granting bail to Urban Naxal Gautam Navlakha

Anand Ranganathan who was made a party in the contempt case against Gurumurthy and Vivek Agnihotri has issued a statement and said that he did nothing wrong and will not apologise.

Taking to Twitter, Ranganathan said, “My statement on today’s developments in the Delhi High Court, in the suo motu criminal contempt case regarding relief provided by the hon’ble judge to UAPA-accused Gautam Navlakha. I have done nothing wrong. I will NOT apologize.”

In his statement, Ranganathan said that he was made a party of the contempt of court case filed against Vivek Agnihotri and Gurumurthy for his tweets, “I stand with them” and “Whatever happened to dissent being the safety valve of democracy?,” both the tweets were unilaterally withheld by Twitter back then. 

Incidentally, ‘Dissent being the safety valve of democracy’ was used by the Supreme Court of India when Navlakha was arrested.

Ranganathan further clarified that he supported the two not only because he is a free-speech absolutist but also because is “fundamentally opposed to the contempt of court charge.” 

It is due to his opposition to contempt charges that he even supported a “rogue Prashant Bhushan” despite disagreeing “vehemently with his opinion on a Supreme Court judge and his judgment.”

This comes after Vivek Agnihotri tendered a written apology in the Delhi High Court. However, a bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh asked Agnihotri to appear in person in the court and apologise.

“I have done nothing wrong, and I continue to oppose the criminal contempt of court charge, and I remain a free-speech absolutist, and so I will not apologise,” Dr Anand Ranganathan said in a statement released on Twitter. 

It is important to note here that Economist S Gurumurthy was dropped as a respondent in the case. As informed by his lawyer, Dr Gurumurthy had refused to apologize, but since Twitter user who had originally posted had deleted tweets, he withdrew his tweets.

On May 4 this year, Anand Ranganathan, Vivek Agnihotri and Swarajya Magazine were served fresh notices by the Delhi High Court in the case. 

Refusing to apologise, Ranganathan said in his statement on Tuesday that “I have done nothing wrong and continue to oppose criminal contempt of court charge and will not apologise. I remain a free-speech absolutist. I have remarked on this once and saying it again, if I’m not in jail right now it is because the State has decided that I need not be jailed, however, if now the state has decided otherwise, so be it.”

Anand Ranganathan mired in “contempt of court” case

It all began when Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao wrote a letter to then Chief Justice Rajendra Menon about an article written by S Gurumurthy accusing Justice Muralidhar of bias in granting bail to Urban Naxal Gautam Navlakha in the Bhima Koregoan case. On Desh Kapur’s blog ‘Dhristikone,’ Gurumurthy wrote the article “Why has Delhi High Court Justice Muralidhar’s relationship with Gautam Navlakha not been disclosed?” The article was retweeted in a tweet by filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, who received a contempt of court notice as well. 

Anand Ranganathan condemned this action by the High Court in a couple of tweets. It turned out that certain tweets of his were withheld in India with the message “This tweet from @ARanganathan72 has been withheld in India in response to a legal demand.” The two tweets were withheld evidently in response to legal demand which was criticising the contempt of court notices that were earlier served to S Gurumurthy and Vivek Agnihotri. It was later known that the same charges had been levied against Dr Ranganathan as well.

Update (11 December, 2022): The article earlier mentioned Dr Gurumurthy had offered unconditional apology. However, he has not apologised for the same as informed by his lawyer and the article has been updated to reflect the same.

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