The Bombay High Court today deferred hearing for one week on a plea filed by Dhyandev Wankhede, father of NCB's former Mumbai zonal director Sameer Wankhede, which sought contempt action against Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik, while noting that the latter is already behind bars.

Dhyandev Wankhede had claimed in his contempt plea filed earlier this year that despite an undertaking given to court in December 2021, to refrain from making defamatory public comments and social media posts against the Wankhedes, Malik continued doing so.

A Division Bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice M N Jadhav had then issued a show cause notice to Malik.

When the matter came up for hearing today, the Bench noted that Malik is already in jail following his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case.

"He (Malik) is anyways behind bars. If we punish him today (for contempt of court) and sentence him, then would it make any sense?" Justice Kathawalla said.

Malik's lawyer Feroze Bharucha sought the court to first hear them before passing any order.

Senior Counsel Birendra Saraf, appearing for Dhyandev Wankhede, said the court could adjourn hearing on the plea. The bench then sought to know the date till which Malik has been remanded in the ED's case.

Bharucha informed the High Court that the minister is in the ED's custody till March 3.

The Court then adjourned the hearing on the contempt plea till March 7.

Dhyandev Wankhede, in a rejoinder affidavit filed on Monday, said the minister was deliberately, willfully and continuously breaching the undertaking given by him to the court that he would not make any further statements against the Wankhedes.

Malik had last week filed an affidavit in response to the plea denying all allegations of having been in contempt of the Court.

In his affidavit, Malik submitted that while giving such an undertaking, his lawyers had told the court that it would not constrain him from making public statements against the conduct of central government officers that were in breach of their official duties.

The minister had said the comments and TV interviews mentioned by Dhnyandev Wankhede in the contempt plea came within the purview of the above concession and therefore, were "not in breach of his undertaking".

With PTI inputs