Tuesday, January 17, 2012

HC rejects contempt petitions against Modi

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat high court on Tuesday dismissed two petitions demanding contempt proceedings against chief minister Narendra Modi for his letter to the prime minister seeking recall of governor Dr Kamla for appointing justice R A Mehta as Lokayukta.
Bhikhalal Jethava, who filed a PIL seeking appointment of Lokayukta, and an advocate Yogesh Mankad had urged HC to take suo motu cognizance of Modi’s letter to the PM on September 1 last year and initiate contempt of court proceedings against him. This is because he chose to build public opinion even when the state government had already moved HC challenging the appointment of Justice Mehta as Lokayukta, and when the case was subjudice.
The bench of justices Akil Kureshi and Sonia Gokani, which had earlier came up with a split verdict over governor’s decision, dismissed both the applications terming them as “meritless”. While rejecting contentions, the bench observed that contempt of court proceeding cannot be guided on assumptions and without specific averments. The court noticed that the petitioners failed to establish that Modi had instructed that the letters be published in the media the next day.
HC concluded that Modi’s gesture of writing the letter and its publication afterwards do not fall within the definition of criminal contempt of court. This is because he never intended or calculated to interfere with the administration of justice. However, the court observed that CM’s gesture of urging the PM to quash the appointment was a duplication of his government’s petition before HC. The judges noted that parallel proceedings before different forums should not be encouraged.

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