The Bombay high court recently dropped contempt proceedings against social activist Anna Hazare, who made defamatory remarks against the judiciary in 2003. This was done after he tendered an unconditional apology to the court.
A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and PR Bora while quashing the contempt proceeding, said: "The respondent No 1 (Hazare) has tendered an unconditional, honest and sincere apology to this court. Hence, by accepting the apology, the contempt proceeding deserves to be dropped."
The contempt proceeding was initiated against Hazare for a statement made by him in 2003, while addressing a member of the legislative assembly. The court had issued a notice to Hazare in 2003 and after several hearings, in 2006, the draft charges against him were filed. Thereafter, the matter was in abeyance and transferred from the Bombay bench of the HC to the Auranagabad bench.
The counsel for the petitioner, Sharad Wani, argued: "The highly published inflammatory statements using derogatory remarks against the judiciary is an attempt to create, and have created, an impression in the mind of the common man that the judiciary in India is a salable commodity."
Further, it was argued: "Aforesaid statements, which are in the nature of interference with the administration of justice, have committed an act of criminal contempt cognizance, which ought to be taken by this court and Hazare be hauled for contempt of court."
The counsel for Hazare placed his reliance on the fact that twice, an unconditional apology was tendered before the court pleaded for relief. The HC, after going through the arguments and the affidavits filed by both parties, noted that Hazare had, even before filing of the draft charges, tendered an unconditional apology. Further, the proceedings have not moved ahead on merits and thus, it would be fit to set aside the contempt proceedings.