On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court issued fresh notice to Scientist Anand Ranganathan, Director Vivek Agnihotri and the Swarajya Magazine in a 2018 Contempt case.
The case was listed on Wednesday before the Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar.
In October 2018, the Delhi High Court initiated contempt proceedings against Economist S Gurumurthy for sharing an article critical of Justice S Muralidhar on Twitter. The article titled "Why has Delhi High Court Justice Muralidhar's relationship with Gautam Navlakha not been disclosed?" had alleged a close connection between Justice Muralidhar's activist wife Usha Ramanathan and Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Elgar Parishad Maoist link case, who was granted relief by the Judge.
Vivek Agnihotri had also commented about the issue. Anand Ranganathan had tweeted, "I stand with them" and "Whatever happened to dissent being the safety valve of democracy?"
Today, reacting to the news of the notice being issued to him, Ranganathan has tweeted that he has done nothing wrong and that he will not apologise. He has also said that he has not received any summons from the Court.
His full statement is as follows:-
"In October of 2018, Gautam Navlakha was granted relief by a High court judge. S Gurumurthy and Vivek Agnihotri, who were critical of this action by the judge, were both Suo motu slapped with criminal contempt of court. Not commenting on the merits of either their arguments or that of the judge's, I tweeted that "I stand with them" and "Whatever happened to dissent being the safety valve of democracy?" [incidentally a phrase that was first uttered by the Supreme Court of India when Navlakha was arrested]. I stood with them not only because I am a free-speech absolutist but also as I fundamentally oppose the Contempt of Court charge, because of which I have even stood publicly with that rogue Prashant Bhushan even though I vehemently disagreed with his opinion of the judge and the judgment. For my two tweets, that were unilaterally withheld by twitter, I was made party to the criminal contempt case. 4 years have passed. S Gurumurthy, for whom I stood, has since apologized. But I will not apologise. Meanwhile, the case carries on and I have apparently been served a fresh notice on May 4, 2022, although I have never received any notice or summons regarding this case in the last 4 years. I repeat: 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. I had once remarked: If I am not in jail right now it is because the State has decided I need not be jailed. The State is probably getting ready to decide otherwise. So be it."
Gurumurthy had earlier apologised to the Court and the Court had dropped him from the party array. Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani had informed the Court that his client will tweet "In compliance with order dated 14.10.2019 passed by the Hon'ble High Court which is attached (link), I have already clarified that the article tweeted by me on 01.10.2018 stands withdrawn by its original author who has tendered an unconditional apology for the same. Consequently, I have already unconditionally withdrawn my tweet dated 01.10.2018.", within 72 hours.
"Keeping in view the contents of the affidavit dated 19th January, 2020, the unconditional apology tendered by respondent no.21- Mr.Rajesh Kumar Singh is accepted by this Court and he is dropped from the array of parties", a Bench of Justice Manmohan and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal recorded in their order of January 23, 2020.