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Delhi High Court: Proceed ex-parte in contempt case against Vivek Agnihotri, Anand Ranganathan and Swarajya magazine

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In a suo motu criminal contempt petition initiated over their comments alleging bias on the part of  former judge, Justice S Muralidhar, the High Court of Delhi on Monday has decided to proceed ex-parte against scientist Anand Ranganathan, filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, news outlet Swarajya magazine and others.

A Division Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Amit Sharma came to the decision after noting that despite issuance of a fresh court notice in May, no one has appeared for them.

The High Court in May observed that no one had appeared for the trio in the last few hearings, so the bench had to finally say that it is in the interest of justice that adverse orders are deferred.

The Court said, “None appears on behalf of remaining respondents despite service of notice. The said respondents are accordingly proceeded ex-parte.”

The case will now be heard on March 16.

A criminal contempt petition was filed in the court after Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao wrote a letter to then Chief Justice Rajendra Menon, pointing to an article retweeted by RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy alleging bias on the part of Justice Muralidhar.

Gurumurthy had written an article after the judge had passed an order setting aside the transit remand order against activist Gautam Navlakha in October 2018.

The article which as written by the RSS ideologue was published in a blog called Drishtikone by Desh Kapoor who in August 2019, and thus was consequently dropped as a party .

Gurumurthy was dropped as a respondent in the matter after he offered to retweet an unconditional apology tendered by Kapoor. However the case against Agnihotri, Ranganathan and several others is still going on.

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