SC drops contempt proceedings against V.K. Singh


Accepting the unqualified apology tendered by the former Chief of Army Staff, General (retd.) V.K. Singh, for attributing motive to the judiciary, the Supreme Court on Wednesday dropped the contempt proceedings against him.

On October 1, a Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha and H.L. Gokhale took suo motu cognisance of an interview Gen. Singh gave to ANI and issued contempt notice to him and Sunday Express, which reported it.

The Bench said his statement scandalised the court and lowered its authority, amounting to “criminal contempt” under Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, read with Article 129 of the Constitution.

In their response, Gen. Singh and the newspaper offered unqualified apologies.

At Wednesday’s hearing, at which Gen. Singh was present, Justice Gokhale drew counsel Ram Jethmalani’s attention to his affidavit and claim that though he was tendering an unqualified apology, there was erroneous reporting. “Was there any erroneous reporting? If there was erroneous reporting, you should have taken a different course,” Justice Gokhale observed. “Even in our order dated February 10, 2012 (on Gen. Singh’s petition on his date of birth), we said the government has the highest regard for you.”

Justice Lodha took exception to Gen. Singh’s statement in the interview: “…that hostile lobbies were working on the judges.” Mr. Jethmalani said: “I am withdrawing all statements made by the General.”

Justice Lodha told counsel: “We are concerned with the majesty of the institution, and you have assisted [us] in [up]holding its majesty rather than getting it in danger. There was no need to go further as Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati, who is assisting the court, also expressed his satisfaction with the development in view of the statement made by Mr. Jethmalani.”

When Mr. Jethmalani told the court that he wanted to gift the judges copies of the autobiography of Gen. Singh, Courage and Conviction, published recently. Justice Lodha said: “We would be enlightened to read the experience of the former Army Chief. The library of this court will purchase the book. It is always enlightening to read the experience of a General.”

Justice Lodha said: “Repentance is a tool which condones all sorts of misdemeanour, and if the apology is coming from the heart, and, that too, from a senior advocate like Mr. Jethmalani, it [the contempt proceedings] should not continue even for a second.”

In a brief order, the Bench said: “The contemnor… has tendered an unqualified apology at the earliest possible opportunity without contesting the contempt notice. Mr. Jethmalani further states the statements made by Gen. Singh after the February 2012 order are being withdrawn. We accept the apology and the proceedings are dropped.”

The Bench also dropped the proceedings against Sunday Express, accepting its apology.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 11:11:55 AM |

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