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Criticism of a Judge on Facebook is Not Contempt, Says Supreme Court
Criticism of a Judge on Facebook is Not Contempt, Says Supreme Court

New Delhi, Nov 4 (The Wire): A Supreme Court bench, on Monday, set aside a Punjab and Haryana high court order issued on May 31, convicting and sentencing an advocate for one month’s simple imprisonment at Narnaul jail in Haryana for a Facebook post in which he was critical of a high court judge.

The details of the case are similar to the notice of contempt of court issued against former judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Markandey Katju, for his Facebook post criticising a judgment delivered by a bench presided by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, presently the CJI. Justice Katju opted to apologise to the bench for his remarks, leading to the closure of the case against him.  The details of the high court case  On May 31, a division bench of the Punjab and Haryana high court sentenced an advocate-cum-journalist, Maneesh Vashistha, to simple imprisonment for one month, after suo motu finding him guilty of contempt of court. His offence: he alleged in a Facebook post that the judgment passed against him by Justice Inderjit Singh of the high court was not a speaking order and that a better decision could have been written by a magistrate.

Vashistha is an advocate practicing at Narnaul district and is also a correspondent for Punjab Kesri (Hissar edition).  Also Read: Contempt Notice to Ex-Judge Markandeya Katju Ignores Supreme Court’s Own Rulings  Vashistha also wrote that the judge had not uploaded the judgment as he might not have understood what was to be written. On learning about the Facebook post from the litigants who were arraigned against Vashistha in a case before him, Justice Inderjit Singh initiated contempt proceedings against him, but directed the registry to put up the case before some other bench, after taking appropriate orders from the chief justice of the high court.  The case was then heard by the division bench of justices M.S. Bedi and Hari Pal Verma.

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