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Contempt case: HC asks Vivek Agnihotri to appear before court, apologise in person

The court was hearing an application filed by Vivek Agnihotri seeking to be permitted to participate in the criminal contempt proceedings initiated by the high court on its own.

PTI Reported By: PTI New Delhi Published on: December 07, 2022 6:38 IST
Vivek Agnihotri
Image Source : TWITTER/VIVEK AGNIHOTRI Vivek Agnihotri

Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri tendered a written apology in the Delhi High Court on Tuesday in a criminal contempt case for his remarks against a judge, who he had accused of bias in granting relief to activist Gautam Navlakha, but the court directed him to appear before it on and "show remorse in person". A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh asked if Agnihotri, whose film 'The Kashmir Files' is hogging the limelight again over Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid's remarks against it, has any difficulty in appearing before the court in person.

"We are asking him (Agnihotri) to remain present because he is the alleged contemnor. Does he have any difficulty appearing before this court? He has to be present and show remorse in person. Does he have any difficulty if he has to express remorse in person? The remorse cannot always be expressed by way of an affidavit," the bench told Agnihotri's lawyer.

His lawyer submitted the filmmaker has tendered an unconditional apology in an affidavit in which he has also stated that he deleted his tweets against the judge himself. However, the court was informed by the amicus curiae that the submission was wrong and it was Twitter that deleted his tweets.

"All of this submission you can make once he is present before this court," the bench told Agnihotri's counsel. Agnihotri had, in a tweet in October 2018, accused 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, of bias after he granted bail to Navlakha, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, and ordered his release from house arrest. At Tuesday's hearing, the Delhi High Court said appearing before the court was not suffering and added "Let him appear. Is there any difficulty in appearing before this court? We hope not."

The court was hearing an application filed by Agnihotri seeking to be permitted to participate in the criminal contempt proceedings initiated by the high court on its own. 

The application was filed in the pending criminal contempt case in which the court had in September this year decided to proceed ex-parte against Agnihotri and other alleged contemnors, Anand Ranganathan and Swarajya magazine, an online news portal, after noting that they were not represented.

On Tuesday, the bench allowed the application and said in the interest of justice, he is permitted to participate in these proceedings henceforth. It asked Agnihotri to remain present in the court in person on March 16, 2023. Pursuant to the tweets, contempt of court proceedings were initiated against Agnihotri and others.

Earlier, the high court had directed two social media platforms to block the weblinks of an article levelling scandalous allegations against the judge. The court had initiated on its own the contempt proceedings after receiving a letter from senior advocate Rajshekhar Rao who alleged the tweet was a deliberate attempt to attack a sitting high court judge.

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

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