The Supreme Court has awarded three-month imprisonment to three men held guilty of contempt of court for scandalising the judiciary by leveling baseless allegations against sitting judges.
The three punished are Indian Bar Association national president Nilesh Ojha, its Maharashtra and Goa state president Vijay Kurle and Human Rights Security Council national secretary Rashid Khan Pathan.
They had levelled 'scurrilous' and 'scandalous' allegations against Mr. Justices RF Nariman and Vineet Saran for an order in a contempt case against Mumbai-based lawyer Mathew J Nedumpara.
However, the top court said, 'Keeping in view the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown conditions we direct that this sentence shall come into force after 16 weeks from today when the contemnors should surrender before the Secretary General of this Court to undergo the imprisonment.'
If they fail to surrender as ordered, warrants for their arrest shall be issued, it said.
In view of the scurrilous and scandalous allegations levelled against top court judges and no remorse being shown by any of the three contemnors, the Bench said, 'we are of the considered view that they cannot be let off leniently.'
The Bench said, '...it is obvious that this is a concerted effort to virtually hold the Judiciary to ransom.'
The Supreme Court had last month held the trio guilty of contempt of court for scandalising the judiciary by leveling baseless allegations against the two judges with regard to an order sentencing Nedumpara who was held guilty of contempt in March last year.
Such allegations had to be dealt with sternly and nipped in the bud, the Bench said.
'Both the complaints are ex facie contemptuous. Highly scurrilous and scandalous allegations have been levelled against the two judges of this court. In our view, the entire contents of the complaints amount to contempt,' it had said, adding the contemnors were fighting a proxy battle for Nedumpara.