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Gurumurthy refuses to tender unconditional apology over tweet against Justice S Muralidhar, Delhi High Court to hear case on merits on July 6

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The Delhi High Court on Thursday decided to hear on merits on July 6, a criminal contempt petition filed by the Delhi High Court Bar Association against journalist S. Gurumurthy for his alleged derogatory tweet against former Delhi High Court judge and serving Chief Justice of Orissa High Court, Justice S. Muralidhar.

The Division Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh decided to hear the case after Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for Gurumurthy, said that the RSS ideologue will not file a second affidavit tendering an ‘unconditional apology’ for his tweet against Justice Muralidhar.

The lawyer apprised the Bench that the tweet was deleted after the High Court took cognisance and the judge clarified the position. He further said that an affidavit has already been filed in the case by Gurumurthy tendering apology.

The High Court noted that the affidavit did not contain any apology and said that if the alleged contemnor has filed an affidavit with a two-line apology, the court can put quietus to the issue.

The Senior Counsel contended that Gurumurthy had no intention to commit the contempt and that he even appeared before a Bench led by Justice Mridul in connection with the case.

The Division Bench told the journalist that he could apologise by way of an affidavit and ‘end the matter’. 

However, Jethmalani refused to file another affidavit.

The High Court then said that it would hear the issue on merits.

The matter pertained to a tweet posted by Gurumurthy, in which he asked whether Justice Muralidhar had been a junior to former Union Minister and senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram.

The tweet followed the verdict passed by a Bench led by Justice Muralidhar, which restrained the Enforcement Directorate (ED) from taking any coercive action against P. Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram. 

The Bench led by Justice Muralidhar took cognisance of the tweet and clarified that he has never worked as a junior to the former Union Minister.

The Court further asked Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta (as he was then) and the Bar to consider whether such tweets called for action in accordance with law.

The Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) then filed a criminal contempt petition against Gurumurthy.

The High Court today said that besides hearing the issue on merits, it would further consider the issue of whether the DHCBA was competent to initiate such proceedings.

This is not the first criminal contempt case against Gurumurthy.

Earlier, the High Court of Delhi had initiated a suo motu case against him for retweeting an article levelling certain allegations against Justice Muralidhar after he granted bail to Bhima Koregaon case accused Gautam Navlakha. After he tendered an unconditional apology in that case, the High Court discharged the journalist.

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