The Supreme Court on Wednesday dropped contempt charges against VHP leader Giriraj Kishore, who died after judgement on the issue was reserved, for allegedly making defamatory statement in 1994 on Ayodhya controversy.
A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha also dropped contempt proceedings against editor and reporter of a daily Khabardar India for publishing derogatory statement of the VHP leader.
Giriraj, who was brought to the court on March 26 to appear in the proceedings, died on July 13.
The court noted that the VHP leader, when he appeared before it, was not able to respond due to severe physical and mental illness. It was hearing a petition filed by senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan who had sought contempt proceedings against Giriraj.
"We appreciate the gravity of the subject matter highlighted by Rajeev Dhawan. We are also not oblivious of the fact that the Court was not satisfied prima facie with the initial response filed by Giriraj Kishore and ordered on May 06, 1994 to initiate the contempt proceedings.
"But, the fact of the matter is that despite the order passed on 06.05.1994, the notice accompanied by charges on him has not been served so far. In this view of the matter, at this distance of time, when the subject matter remained dormant for almost two decades and now the contemner is 96 years and he is not able to respond to the charges due to old age and illness, we do not think that this is a fit case where we should deal with the matter further," the bench said.
The bench said since contempt proceedings are not being pursued further to find out criminality against the author who made the offending statements, we are of the view that contempt matter does not deserve to be pursued against owner, publisher, editor of Khabardar India and its reporter Pradeep Thakur.