The Delhi High Court on Friday sentenced four journalists of
to four months imprisonment for "tarnishing the image of the Supreme Court" by publishing certain "scandalous" articles about former Chief Justice of India YK Sabharwal.
A division bench comprising Justices RS Sodhi and BN Chaturvedi, however, directed that the journalists, found guilty of contempt of court, be released on bail in view of the Supreme Court order asking the high court to grant them bail if they are sentenced to jail. Those found guilty on September 11 are editor Vitusha Oberoi, city editor MK Tayal, printer and publisher SK Akhtar and cartoonist Irfan Khan. They were in court when the sentence was pronounced.
When Justice Sodhi asked the counsel for the journalists if he wished to argue on the quantum of sentence, he said: "All the articles were based on truth and truth is an explicit defence under the Contempt of Courts Act." Then the bench pronounced: "In view of the fact that they neither seek an apology, nor do they opt to argue and reiterate their stated stand, which has tarnished the image of the highest court, a four months imprisonment would serve the ends of justice."
The court directed the journalists to furnish a personal bond of Rs 10,000 each and two sureties of the same amount for bail.
"The publications, in the garb of scandalizing a retired CJI, have in fact attacked the very institution, which according to us is nothing short of contempt… The manner in which the entire incidence has been projected, it appears as if the Supreme Court permitted itself to be led into fulfilling an ulterior motive of one of its members," he said.
, dated May 19, 2007, had carried reports that sealing orders issued by a bench headed by Justice Sabharwal were intended to benefit his sons.