The Delhi High Court on Tuesday convicted four senior journalists of Mid Day daily of contempt of court for “tarnishing the image of the Supreme Court” by publishing certain scandalous articles about former Chief Justice of India, YK Sabharwal.
Those found guilty MK Tayal, Editor (City), SK Akhtar, the then Publisher, Vitusha Oberoi, Resident Editor, and Irfan Khan, Cartoonist have been directed to be present before the court on September 21 when it will pronounce the quantum of sentence.
“The publications, in the garb of scandalising a retired Chief Justice of India, have, in fact, attacked the very institution, which according to us is nothing short of contempt,” a Bench of Justice RS Sodhi and Justice BN Chaturvedi said.
Mid Day dated May 19, 2007 had carried news reports that the sealing orders issued by a Bench headed by Justice YK Sabharwal was intended to benefit his sons who had ties with mall developers.
“The Supreme Court in its judgements have clearly laid down the Lakshaman Rekha, which we feel the publications have crossed,” the Bench observed.
The Court rejected the contention of the daily, which had submitted that a judge, after retiring, 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 itself. It tends to erode the confidence of the general public in the institution itself,” the Bench said.
The judges said the Supreme Court sits in division and every order is of a bench. “By imputing motive to its presiding member automatically sends a signal that the other members were dummies or were party to fulfil the ulterior motive. This we find most disturbing”, the Bench said in its order.