The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri to be present before it on April 10 in connection with a criminal contempt case related to his alleged remarks against a judge of the high court.

A bench headed by Justice Siddharth Mridul, which had earlier asked Agnihotri to appear before it on Thursday after he tendered an unconditional apology, exempted him from appearance after his counsel informed the court he was unwell.

In 2018, Agnihotri had allegedly put out tweets alleging bias against Justice S Muralidhar, who was then a sitting judge of the Delhi High Court and is currently the Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court, as he had released human rights activist Gautam Navlakha from house arrest in the Bhima Koregaon violence case.

Pursuant to the tweets, contempt of court proceedings were initiated against Agnihotri and others by the high court.

During the hearing, the bench, also comprising Justice Talwant Singh, remarked it was not "asking" the filmmaker to remain present on the next date of hearing but it has "directed" him to do so.

Tell him to remain present, the court told his lawyer.

On December 6 last year, the court had asked him to "show remorse in person" after he tendered an unconditional apology in the case through an affidavit.

"We are asking him (Agnihotri) to remain present because he is the alleged contemnor. Does he have any difficulty to appear before this court? He has to be present and show remorse in person," the court had said.

The lawyer appearing for another alleged contemnor Anand Ranganathan on Thursday said he will participate in the contempt proceedings.

Amicus curiae senior advocate Arvind Nigam said Ranganathan has made a tweet in relation to the contempt proceedings that he will go down fighting.

"This is not a civil war. I would go down fighting, I will go down with the ship. What is all of this? All we are asking is for you to appear and whatever response is available to you, please let us know," the bench remarked.

The court had initiated on its own the contempt proceedings in the present case after receiving a letter from senior advocate Rajshekhar Rao.

The contempt proceedings were also initiated against Swaminathan Gurumurthy, the editor of the Chennai-based weekly 'Thuglak' magazine, for his tweets against the judge.

Proceedings against Gurumurthy were subsequently closed in October 2019.

Rao, in his letter, had stated that the tweet was a deliberate attempt to attack a sitting high court judge.

Earlier, the high court had directed two social media platforms to block the web links of an offending article levelling scandalous allegations against the judge.

With PTI Inputs