Mid-Day staff held guilty of contempt

Mid-Day staff held guilty of contempt

New Delhi: The Delhi high court held four journalists of tabloid city daily Mid-Day guilty of contempt of court for publishing articles against former chief justice of India Y. K. Sabharwal, saying their actions had tarnished the Supreme Court’s image.

M.K. Tayal, editor (city), S.K. Akhtar, then publisher, Vitusha Oberoi, resident editor, and Irfan Khan, cartoonist, were held guilty of contempt by a division bench of the court, which directed them to show up on 21 September for sentencing.

“The publications, in the garb of scandalizing a retired cief justice of India, have, in fact, attacked the very institution, which according to us, is nothing short of contempt," ruled Justice R.S. Sodhi and Justice B.N. Chaturvedi.

The order was pronounced on the articles written in the paper about a judgement delivered by a bench headed by Sabharwal on the sealing of shops and other illegal establishments in the Capital earlier this year.

The paper had said the ruling was intended to benefit the business interests of Sabharwal’s sons.

The Delhi high court rejected the contention of the daily, which had submitted that a retired judge ceases to be part of the judicial system and writing against him didn’t come within the ambit of contempt of court.

“The nature of the revelations and the context in which they appear, though purporting to single out the former Chief Justice of India, tarnishes the image of the Supreme Court. It tends to erode the confidence of the general public in the institution itself," the bench said.

The daily took the defence that the sons of the former Chief Justice had benefited by the orders of the Supreme Court and that they were operating their business from the official residence of Justice Sabharwal.

They claimed that whatever was said in the publication was the truth which according to them was a permissible defence.

Shanti Bhushan, who represented the journalists, also contended that the material on the record had ample proof of the fact that sons of the former Chief Justice of India were beneficiaries of sealing of commercial premises in the Capital.