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‘This is sheer wastage of court’s time’: Delhi HC closes criminal contempt of court case against scientist Dr Anand Ranganathan

In December 2022, Dr Anand Rangathan issued a statement, refusing to apologise for his remarks in connection with relief provided by Justice S. Murlidhar to UAPA accused Gautam Navlakha.

The Delhi HC on January 3 (Wednesday) closed contempt proceedings against scientist Dr Anand Ranganathan, observing that it was “sheer wastage” of the court’s time.

The court observed that Ranganathan did not pass any adverse comments against then-HC judge S Muralidhar but merely stood in support of those who did.

Dr Anand Ranganathan took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to announce that he won the case, and has refused to apologise to stand up for free speech. Expressing gratitude to his lawyer, J Sai Deepak, author of the critically acclaimed books, ‘India That is Bharat’ and ‘India, Bharat, and Pakistan’, Dr Ranganathan tweeted, “Oh, the way you fought – words fail me, Sai. The feeling overwhelmingly is of pride; pride in the realisation that with you Bharat is in safe hands.”

The case pertains to suo-moto criminal contempt proceedings initiated against Dr Anand Ranganathan, Vivek Agnihotri, Swarajya Magazine and others in 2018 in connection with relief provided by Justice S. Murlidhar to UAPA accused Gautam Navlakha.

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 Koregaon 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.

After Dr Ranganathan was made a party to the court of contempt filed against Gurumurthy and Agnihotri for their remarks, the polymath, known for his incisive monologues on primetime debates, held on to his ground and refused to apologise, affirming that he did no wrong and, therefore, he would not apologise.

In his statement, Dr 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.” Dr Ranganathan then decided to contest the contempt of court charge in the court of law instead of tendering an apology.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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