The Delhi High Court Monday sought a reply from lawyer Ashok Arora on a plea seeking contempt proceedings against him for criticising the judge who acquitted former police officer R.K. Sharma in the 1999 murder of journalist Shivani Bhatnagar.
Taking note of a petition filed by advocate Manish Kaushik, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said: “One can criticise the judgment but not the judge.”
The bench issued contempt notice to Arora seeking his reply Nov 9.
The petition sought action against Arora over an article on his website “ashokarora.net” criticising the Shivani murder case judgment and one of the judges on the bench which delivered the verdict.
The court asked the Delhi Police to remove the article from the website. “The police are directed to remove the article immediately. In case, they fail to block the single article the whole website can be blocked.”
Arora posted the article after the verdict was pronounced Oct 12 by the division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Manmohan Singh. The court acquitted the former Indian Police Service officer along with co-accused Sri Bhagwan and Satya Prakash. The trio were sentenced to life sentence by the trial court.
The high court upheld the life sentence awarded to another accused Pradeep Sharma.
On Kaushik’s plea, the court sought a reply from the Delhi government, the Bar Council of India and the Bar Council of Delhi and sought their responses by Nov 9.
The plea for contempt action was supported by Additional Solicitor General A.S. Chandhiok, who said Arora deserved to face criminal contempt for writing the alleged derogatory comments against a sitting judge.
During the hearing, the bench asked counsel appearing in the matter to contact Arora so that he could appear before it.