SC Stays HC Order That Convicted A Lawyer For Contempt For Criticizing HC Judge In His Facebook Post [Read Order]
“Big lawyers appear in media and give several statements against the judges of superior courts but they are not held guilty of contempt but Vashishta is a small lawyer, he can’t be punished without verifying the contents,” Senior Advocate Vikas Singh Argued For Vashishta.
A Supreme Court Bench on Monday stayed the Punjab and Haryana High Court order that sentenced an advocate to one-month simple imprisonment for criticizing a judge in his Facebook post.
The bench comprising of Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan issued notice to Punjab and Haryana High Court and sought reply on a petition filed by Advocate Manish Vashishta against the High court order.
Appearing for Vashishta, Senior advocate and President of Supreme Court lawyers’ union Vikas Singh argued that the high court had passed the order without verifying the content on the Facebook.
“Even experts say, the content of Facebook can be doctored. Big lawyers appear in media and give several statements against the judges of superior courts but they are not held guilty of contempt but Vashishta is a small lawyer, he can’t be punished without verifying the contents,” Singh said.
Finding him guilty of contempt for various allegations on June 31, the High court had observed, “The dignity and authority of Court has to be maintained not only by the general public but also by the Advocates who constitute an important part of the system of the administration of justice and are considered as officers of the Court.”
The suo motu contempt case had been initiated against the Narnaul-based advocate for his allegations against an HC judge in connection with a judicial order passed by him on August 24 last year. According to the HC order, the order was passed in some personal litigation involving the contemnor.
English translation of his Facebook post, as quoted in the judgment, reads as follows: “August I had appeared in the Hon’ble High Court before Hon’ble Mr. Justice Inderjit Singh. On that, there were three matters of mine listed before the Hon’ble Court of Justice Inderjit Singh and when I wanted to state about law, he started threatening me for writing contempt reference against me. I told that it is your will, got flared up without hearing me, the three matters decided against me in illegal manners. Today there has been 7 days since 24 August but in only one matter the order has been uploaded on the website, which is not speaking, the decision better than this can be written by a Magistrate In two matters the orders have not been uploaded till today, perhaps, has not got dictated, what should dictate, must be thinking. The decision is false, it would demand hard labour for got it written.”
Similar Order By Himachal Pradesh HC
Live Law has reported a recent Judgment of Himachal Pradesh High Court that sentenced a lawyer to one-month imprisonment for his contemptuous comment against judges on his Facebook page. Apart fromthe sentence of imprisonment and fine, the High court also directed the lawyer to delete his Facebook account. Registry was also directed to ensure that it is taken down.Read the Petition & Order Here