SC stays jail term to lawyer for allegedly criticising order on Facebook

A bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan stayed the order sentencing advocate Maneesh Vashistha to month-long simple imprisonment for his Facebook post and sought a response from the registrar general of the High Court.

india Updated: Aug 27, 2018 19:27 IST
Supreme Court,Jail term,Lawyer
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Vashistha, said this was an unverified post on the social networking site which was later erased. (Sonu Mehta/HT File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Monday stayed a one-month jail term awarded to an advocate by the Punjab and Haryana High Court for allegedly writing a post on social networking site Facebook to criticise an order.

A bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan stayed the order sentencing advocate Maneesh Vashistha to month-long simple imprisonment for his Facebook post and sought a response from the registrar general of the High Court.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Vashistha, said this was an unverified post on the social networking site which was later erased.

“Experts have an opinion that this post can be doctored. The high court is wrong in holding him guilty of contempt of court,” he said.

The bench, after hearing brief arguments, said “Issue notice, returnable in four weeks. In the meantime, there shall be stay of the impugned order”.

Vashistha, in his appeal, has claimed that “the order is totally wrong, illegal, against law, against facts and is beyond record, arbitrary, lacking reasoning, summary and sketchy in nature and is based on surmises and conjectures and is thus liable to be quashed”.

It said he has been convicted on an allegation that he had published the post having “contemptuous remarks” against the High Court regarding an order dated August 24, 2017, relating to BSNL employees, on his Facebook account, which he had erased s subsequently.

His plea said that the high court’s May 31 judgement did not disclose the date on which appellant has committed the alleged contempt, that is the date he had published the contemptuous remarks and displayed them on Facebook.

Vashistha also denied having written any such post on the social networking site to allegedly criticise a judgement given last year.

First Published: Aug 27, 2018 19:26 IST