After video sharing website YouTube, now it may be social networking giant Facebook’s turn to face possible action for contempt of court. While issuing suo-motu notice for criminal contempt to a former journalist Ketan Tirodkar, for posting “scandalous” comments against sitting judges of the Bombay high court on YouTube, the court sought details of the company that provided him the platform to spread the content.
The suo-motu criminal contempt proceedings against Tirodkar are based on a letter by a sitting judge of the high court along with a hard copy of Tirodkar’s Facebook post. A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai on February 17 issued a contempt notice to the former journalist saying, “The writing contains scandalous allegations against this court in relation to ban imposed on the litigants carrying cell phones in the court. The writing also makes scandalous and defamatory allegations against the sitting judges named therein.”
While issuing notice to Tirodkar for criminal contempt of the court, the bench also directed its registry to “ascertain the address of the company / entity which has provided the platform for the objectionable and contemptuous writing so that appropriate action can be initiated.”
Besides, the Facebook post also contained scandalous and defamatory comments about two sitting women judges of the high court. “The said allegations are of extremely serious nature. Such allegations will also interfere with the administration of justice. According to us, the statements made ex facie constitute gross criminal contempt in terms of clause (c) of Section 2 of the Contempt of Courts, Act, 1971,” said the bench.
It has now posted the matter for further hearing on March 31. A criminal contempt petition is pending against Google Inc. and YouTube along with 12 others after videos of court proceedings before a single judge bench of the high court, purporting to be a sting operation to expose corruption of the judge, were uploaded on the content sharing site.
Acting on the petition filed by Bombay Bar Association and the Advocates Association of Western India, the same bench had on February 17 ordered YouTube to immediately take down the videos and also asked the content sharing site to not allow anyone to upload such content.