New Delhi: Attorney General (AG) K.K. Venugopal has refused to give consent to initiate contempt proceedings against Justice S.N. Dhingra, former Delhi High Court judge, former Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi and senior advocate K. Rama Kumar for their remarks against the Supreme Court’s comments made during the hearing of Nupur Sharma case.
The AG emphasized that fair and reasonable criticism of judicial proceedings would not constitute contempt of court.
Venugopal said: “It may be noted that the Supreme Court, in a large number of judgments, has held that fair and reasonable criticism of judicial proceedings would not constitute contempt of court”.
The AG added that the statements made by the three persons are in the realm of fair comments on hearing conducted by the Supreme Court. “The statements are not vituperative or abusive nor are they likely to interfere with the administration of justice by the Supreme Court,” he said.
The AG’s response came on a letter from advocate C.R. Jaya Sukin, seeking consent to initiate criminal contempt of court proceedings against former Delhi High Court judge and two senior advocates, in connection with the apex court’s observations in Nupur Sharma case.
Refusing to give consent to initiate contempt proceedings, the AG said, “I am not satisfied that the criticism made by the three persons is with malice or is an attempt to impair the administration of justice or that it was a deliberate and motivated attempt to bring down the image of judiciary.”
Sukin, in the letter, said in a TV interview Justice Dhingra asserted that the top court has no right to make such remarks and the court imposed a charge and gave a verdict without listening to Sharma. The letter added that Justice Dhingra, who retired as a judge of Delhi High Court, termed the top court’s observations in Sharma’s case as ‘irresponsible’, ‘illegal’ and ‘unfair’. Sukin also sought similar action against former Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi and senior advocate K. Rama Kumar who also questioned the top court’s observations.
On July 1, the top court slammed Nupur Sharma for her controversial remarks on Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and said she single-handedly is responsible for trouble in the country. The apex court noted that her outburst is responsible for the unfortunate incident at Udaipur, related to the brutal killing of a tailor, Kanhaiya Lal on June 29.
Under Section 15 of Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 read with Rule 3(c) of the Rules to Regulate Proceedings for Contempt of Supreme Court 1975, a consent from the Attorney General is mandatory to initiate criminal contempt proceedings before the Supreme Court.