The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed Vivek Agnihotri, Director of The Kashmir Files, to remain present before the Court on March 16, in connection with his remarks against Justice S. Muralidhar, who was part of the Bench that sent activist Gautam Navlakha to house arrest in a case related to the Bhima Koregaon violence of 2018.
Agnihotri tendered unconditional apology before the Division Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh, which considered his affidavit and noted that since the matter was initiated suo motu, Agnihotri should remain present in the court on the next date of hearing.
The apology from Agnihotri followed the High Court’s decision to proceed ex-parte against Agnihotri, online news portal Swarajya and Consulting Editor of Swarajya Anand Ranganathan, for their derogatory comments against Justice Muralidhar.
In his affidavit, Agnihotri said that he has deleted his tweets against the Judge.
However, when the matter came up for hearing on Tuesday, Amicus Curiae Senior Advocate Arvind Nigam pointed out that that the submission by Agnihotri could be wrong since the affidavit submitted by Twitter had stated that it might be the micro-blogging site which deleted Agnihotri’s tweets and not the Director himself.
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Justice Mridul said during the hearing that the High Court sought his presence because he was the contemnor, adding that remorse could not always be expressed by way of an affidavit.
The Court eventually deferred the hearing after Agnihotri’s counsel told the Court that the contemnor will remain personally present for next hearing.
Agnihotri, author of Urban Naxals, had earlier alleged on social media that Justice Muralidhar had ‘decided’ to free Navlakha from house arrest because he was a friend of the judge’s wife.
In September this year, the High Court had decided to proceed ex-parte against Agnihotri, Anand Ranganathan and Swarajya magazine, after noting that the contemnors were not represented.
The Director, besides filing an affidavit, also moved an application before the High Court, seeking recall of the order of ex-parte hearing and permission to participate in the proceedings.
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Earlier on November 19, Navlakha was shifted from Taloja Central prison to Navi Mumbai, in furtherance of the Supreme court order directing him to be placed in house arrest.
On November 18, the Supreme Court had flayed the National Investigation Agency for not following its November 10 order, directing NIA to shift activist Navlakha from Taloja Prison, where he was lodged in connection with the Elgar Parishad Maoist links case, to the house specified by him within the next 24 hours.
The Bench of Justice K.M. Joseph and Justice Hrishikesh Roy, however, permitted NIA to put additional measures on the house where the 73-year-old will reside for the next one month, including sealing of the kitchen door leading to the exit point and locking of the grills of the hall.