The Supreme Court today refused to list for hearing a criminal contempt plea filed by a lawyer against JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, student activist Umar Khalid, ex-DU professor SAR Geelani, and four others for labelling Afzal Guru’s hanging as ‘judicial killing’ on the ground that Attorney General had declined consent to it.
When senior lawyer J P Dhanda who appeared for petitioner and Pune-based lawyer Vineet Dhanda submitted that the petition had been forwarded to AG Mukul Rohatgi but he had declined consent, Chief Justice T S Thakur observed that "AG's consent is a must. It is a legal requirement. We cant help it. Only then it can be listed".
When Dhanda insisted that there were instances where petitions had been listed despite AG"s objection, the bench said.
"No that is a must. You make another attempt".
Under Rule 3 (c) of the Rules to Regulate Proceedings for Contempt of the Supreme Court, 1975, a petition filed by a third person alleging contempt should receive prior consent of the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General in writing before the court takes action. This screening is part of a mechanism to avoid wasting the court’s time on frivolous contempt pleas.
“I have carefully gone through the contempt petition enclosed with your communication dated February 20, 2016 received today. I decline to give consent,” said a letter dated February 22, 2016 and signed by Rohatgi.
As per an order on February 19, Chief Justice TS Thakur had directed that the criminal contempt petition be “posted in the next week (this week) before an appropriate bench, subject to removal of office objection if any”.
The contempt allegation was in connection with alleged distribution of pamphlets during events at the JNU campus and Delhi Press Club to mark the anniversary of the execution of terrorist Afzal Guru, during which anti-India slogans were allegedly raised.
Afzal’s hanging had been termed as “judicial killing” in the pamphlets.
The death sentence awarded to Guru by the sessions court was confirmed by the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court.
“By calling the act as judicial killing, judges of the apex court have been projected as killers despite the free and fair trial of the convict and it clearly tantamount to criminal contempt. The Supreme Court needs to take stringent action against the offenders. The parties named in the petition have crossed every limit of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression,” Vineet Dhanda said in the petition.
“Supreme Court of India has passed a detailed judgment after giving due consideration as per law and after going through the evidence. Afzal Guru was hanged to death after he had exhausted all legal remedies,” the petition added.