Supreme Court: Ordering closure of two decade old contempt petition filed in 1994 against certain bigwigs of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the publishers and reporters of Indian Express and Khabardar India, the Constitution Bench comprising R.M Lodha, CJ. and A.R Dave, S.J Mukhopadhaya, Dipak Misra and S.K Singh, JJ., observed that the subject matter of the petition remained dormant for about two decades and the contemners either have aged enough to not to be able to respond to the charges or have tendered apology to the Court, therefore there is no necessity to carry on the contempt proceedings further.

The case arose from the post Babri Maszid demolition scenario where the President, under Article 143 of the Constitution, referred the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act, 1993 to the Constitution Bench for its opinion on the validity of the Act. During this time the President and the General Secretary of VHP, V.H. Dalmia and Giriraj Kishore, respectively made certain derogatory statements scandalizing the Court and questioning its authority in a press conference which was reported by the Indian Express and Khabardar India. The petitioner, a learned advocate representing himself brought in a contempt petition alleging that the statements reported in the abovementioned papers constitute criminal contempt and the authors of these statements and the publishers and reporters therefore are answerable to this Court and that a matter as grave as this should not be left undecided. The respondents were represented by Mrs. Manik Karanjawala.

The Constitution Bench observing upon the seriousness of the issue however stated that matter remained dormant for years and one of the six contemners, Mr. Giriraj Kishor is not in a position to respond to the charges owing to his old age and resultant bad health. Moreover two contemners have tendered unconditional apologies and for other contemners the Court did not take any cognizance of the criminal contempt, therefore the Court deemed it fit to order a closure of this contempt petition. Rajeev Dhawan v. Gulshan Kumar Mahajan, Contempt Petition (Crl.) No. 2 of 1994, decided on 23.07.2014 

To read the full judgment, refer to SCCOnLine

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