Delhi HC refuses to pass gag order in contempt case against litigant for seeking death penalty for judge

New Delhi, Sep 18 : The Delhi High Court on Monday declined the state counsel???s request for in-camera hearings in a matter of a litigant, who made whimsical and objectionable allegations against a judge of the court, saying that it (the court) has nothing to hide and that the very purpose is transparency of an open court. The litigant, Naresh Sharma, had sought the death penalty for the single judge for dismissing his pleas. Before a division bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Anish Dayal, the counsel representing the state besides requesting in-camera hearings, also asked for orders not to be made public. To which, Justice Siddharth Mridul orally said: ???The institution of judiciary has reached a stage where everything that transpires in the courtroom is streamed live. We have nothing to hide.??? He added: ???If someone criticises us justly, so be it. If someone criticises us unjustly, there is a proceeding for it. We will deal with it.??? The bench refused to pass any gag order in the matter saying that the contemnor has the freedom of speech, and if he chooses to transgress the boundaries, there are proceedings in law. ???Proceedings have been initiated against him. The very purpose is transparency. We are an open court. We are going to be transparent.??? the court said. Sharma has challenged a single judge's order passed on July 20, wherein he had alleged that numerous government organisations, including prestigious institutions like IIT, AIIMS, and IIMs, were "criminal" and accused them of sedition. He had contended that there should be a legal option for such organisations to disobey the government and unite against it. Sharma had further argued that his fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which includes the right to have public organisations that are not criminally established, was being violated. However, in his appeal against the single judge, Sharma demanded that the judge be "criminally charged" for issuing a "meaningless, defamatory, criminal, seditious judgement", and he even asked for the death penalty in his prayer. Recently, a division bench of Chief Justice Satish Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula deemed these allegations as "prima facie aimed at scandalising and lowering the authority of the Court" and that they were made with a "mala fide intention to interfere with the administration of justice". The bench had then issued a show-cause notice to Sharma, asking him to explain why proceedings for criminal contempt should not be initiated against him under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. On Monday, saying that he wasn???t heard properly by the coordinate bench, Sharma said that he is willing to accept the punishment, including the death penalty if he is wrong. To which the bench said that the penalty on an individual???s conviction depends upon the nature of offence. ???What is the nature of the offence alleged against you? If it is an offence that carries the death penalty???It makes no sense you are telling us that you are ready to face the death penalty. We cannot act contrary to law,??? the court said. The court pointed out that in a democracy, the principles of fair play and fair trial is available to everyone, including those facing a criminal trial. The bench also said that both Sharma and state should limit themselves to the matter before the court and not spread their personal views. ???Nobody is persecuting you. Laws of this country and the Constitution do not sanction persecution in any manner,??? Justice Mridul said. Sharma??? case is scheduled to be heard next on October 1. /IANS


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