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The Delhi High Court today granted yet another opportunity to S Gurumurthy to tender an apology for his tweet on Justice S Muralidhar in the aftermath of the Karti Chidambaram bail order in the INX Media case.
In December last year as well, the Court had afforded Gurumurthy a chance to express remorse and apologize. Gurumurthy had, however, chosen to exercise his right to defend himself.
When a Division Bench led by Justice S Muralidhar granted bail to Karti Chidambaram in the INX Media bribery case in March 2018, Gurumurthy had tweeted asking if Justice Muralidhar had been a junior to Karti Chidambaram’s father and Senior Advocate P Chidambaram.
While hearing the contempt case initiated by the Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) against Gurumurthy, a Division Bench of Justices GS Sistani and Anup J Bhambhani today asked his counsel to seek “complete instructions” on whether he was willing to post an unqualified apology on Twitter and on an affidavit to the Court.
As soon as the case was taken up, the Court expressed its inclination to close the contempt case if an apology was tendered by Gurumurthy.
Counsel for Gurumurthy, Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani thus informed that Gurumurthy had already stated in his response that he had no personal animosity with the judge (Justice Muralidhar), that he had high regard for the judiciary and was sorry for any offence caused to the Judge.
It was further clarified that the tweet, which was in the form of a question and not an accusation, was made after a journalist with credible reputation sent him a WhatsApp message stating the same.
Irked by the explanation, the Court observed that the tweet was more than just a question or verification.
Remarking that “a bell can’t be unrung“, Justice Bhambhani added,
“If it was something which one had said to his friends over drinks, it would be different..(but) to put a question on a public platform .. maybe the problem is that of the medium..a person such as him should have been careful.. misinformation darts across the globe in a jiffy..“
Justice Sistani further stated :
“You can’t throw ink and then walk away.”
Counsel for DHCBA and the Delhi Government maintained their stand that the above statement did not qualify as an unqualified and unequivocal apology.
The Court then proceeded to passover the matter to enable counsel for Jethmalani to seek instructions on whether Gurumurthy was ready to tender an apology.
When the matter was called post lunch, Jethmalani informed the Court,
He added that as per Gurumurthy, the tendering of an apology would indicate that the tweet was malafide.
After a brief discussion, the Court adjourned the matter and directed counsel for Jethmalani to seek complete instructions on whether Gurumurthy would tender any apology and not come with “piecemeal instructions“.
DHCBA was represented by Senior Advocate Sudhanshu Batra.
Jethmalani was assisted by Advocate Ravi Sharma and Mohit Mudgal.
The matter would be heard next on December 11.