Delhi HC Issues Contempt Notice to S. Gurumurthy for Tweets Against Justice Muralidhar

Gurumurthy had criticised the judge's decision to release activist Gautam Navlakha from house arrest and alleged that he had done so because Navlakha and the judge's wife are friends.

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Monday issued a contempt notice to part-time Reserve Bank of India director and editor of Chennai-based Tamil magazine S. Gurumurthy for his tweets against Justice S. Muralidhar.

A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Yogesh Khanna initiated contempt proceedings and sought Gurumurthy’s response, and listed the matter for further hearing on December 11.

After the high court division bench headed by Justice S. Muralidhar passed order on October 1, releasing rights activists Gautam Navlakha from house arrest in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, Gurumurthy had tweeted alleging bias by Justice Muralidhar.

The high court, which took up the matter after receiving a letter from advocate Rajshekhar Rao who sought contempt action against Gurumurthy, said the tweets and online video making allegations against the judge should be taken down.

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

In his tweet about Justice Muralidhar, Gurumurthy had also said that it would “some judges” did not have the “contempt weapon”.

While releasing Navlakha from house arrest, the Delhi high court had questioned the actions of the Maharashtra police and the trial court’s transit remand order.

Gurumurthy is not the only one who lashed out at Justice Muralidhar after his order in the Navlakha case. Vivek filmmaker Agnihotri, known for his right-wing views on social media and the author of Urban Naxals, said that Justice Muralidhar had decided to free Navlakha from house arrest because Navlakha was a friend of the judge’s wife.

Several people responded to Agnihotri’s comments on Twitter, also attacking Justice Muralidhar and alleging that what he did was “a gross misuse of the immunity the judiciary enjoys”. R. Jagannathan, the editor of RSS mouthpiece Swarajya magazine, also retweeted Agnihotri’s tweets, calling it a “interesting thread about nexus”.

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In March this year, the high court had dubbed as “mischievous” certain tweets by Gurumurthy in connection with its decision granting interim protection from arrest to Karti Chidambaram, son of senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case. Gurumurthy insinuated in his tweet that Justice Muralidhar was “a junior under PC [P. Chidambaram]”.

Taking notice of the tweet, Justice Muralidhar commented in court next day that he was never P. Chidambaram’s junior. “It is unfortunate that despite some of the tweets in response clarifying the correct factual position, Mr. Gurumurthy chose not to withdraw his mischievous and false tweet.”

Gurumurthy later withdrew the tweet.