“Have done nothing wrong, will not apologise”: Dr. Ranganathan issues public statement on Delhi High Court's contempt notice

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Dr Anand Ranganathan has issued a public statement on the notice issued by Delhi High Court on Wednesday, in the suo motu criminal contempt case in connection with relief provided by Justice S. Muralidhar to UAPA-accused Gautam Navlakha.

Earlier, on May 4 the Delhi High Court had issued notices against Vivek Agnihotri, Ranganathan, and S Gurumurthy in suo motu criminal contempt petition relating to article alleging “bias” of Justice S Muralidhar for setting aside transit remand order against UAPA accused Gautam Navlakha.

Ranganathan has states that for his two tweets, that were unilaterally withheld by Twitter, he was made party to the criminal contempt case. "4 years have passed. S Gurumurthy, for whom I stood, has since apologized. But I will not apologise," he said.

The matter pertains to the tweets allegedly in support of an Article written by Gurumurthy against the judgment setting aside the transit remand order against Bhima Koregaon Violence accused Gautam Navlakha in 2018.

Ranganathan while elaborating on the incident stated that, "In October of 2018, Gautam Navlakha was granted relief by a High court judge. S Gurumurthy and Vivek Agnihotri, who were critical of this action by the judge, were both suo motu slapped with criminal contempt of court. Not commenting on the merits of either their arguments or that of the judge's, I tweeted that "I stand with them" and "Whatever happened to dissent being the safety valve of democracy?" [incidentally a phrase that was first uttered by the Supreme Court of India when Navlakha was arrested]."

"I stood with them not only because I am a free-speech absolutist but also as I fundamentally oppose the Contempt of Court charge, because of which I have even stood publicly with that rogue Prashant Bhushan even though I vehemently disagreed with his opinion of the judge and the judgment," Ranganathan added.

Ranganathan has further said - "I repeat: I have done nothing wrong and I continue to oppose the criminal contempt of court charge and I remain a free-speech absolutist and so I will not apologise. I had once remarked: If I am not in jail right now it is because the State has decided I need not be jailed. The State is probably getting ready to decide otherwise. So be it."

The Delhi High Court on October 29, 2018, had issued criminal contempt notice against S Gurumurthy for his tweeting an article alleging that Justice S Muralidhar was biased in passing order releasing Gautam Navlakha from house arrest in the Bhima Koregaon violence case.

The bench had issued notice after receiving letter from Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao alleging contempt. The article tweeted by Gurumurthy was titled, "Why has Delhi High Court Justice Muralidhar's relationship with Gautam Navlakha not been disclosed?"

However, on October 14, 2019, the Delhi High Court removed Gurumurthy from list of respondents in contempt matter after he issued an apology.

According to the NIA's chargesheet, Gautam Navlakha has been accused of supporting and encouraging of membership of banned organisations CPI (Maoist), being a member of it, waging war & organising ammunition supplies, collecting arms and ammunition with intention to wage war and spreading secessionist and religious thought.


Case Title: Court in its Own Motion Vs S. Gurumurthy