'Mysore episode': High Court orders separate trial

BANGALORE Oct. 22. A Full Bench of the Karnataka High Court today decided to hold trial individually for each of the 30 accused, representing 11 publications, for alleged criminal contempt of court in the "Mysore episode'' case.

Justice H.L. Dattu delivered the 2 to 1 majority order. Justice V.G. Sabhahit concurred while Justice T.S. Thakur dissented and favoured a joint trial to save the court's time.

The order was passed while allowing an interlocutory application filed by the Registrar General's counsel seeking a direction for separate trial.

The court subscribed to counsel's view that the accused were charged with committing a certain offence, which did not originate from the same transaction. It said the accused could not be tried together unless they made an application seeking joint trial. It also recorded that the Registrar General would not object to such an application.

The majority order said each act of publication regarding the "episode" involving High Court judges was independent, relying upon its own sources of information.

It noted that though the charge appeared to be similar, it was different and exclusive.

Mr. Thakur said, "I, however, regret my inability to subscribe to the view that the charge framed against the respondents should be split and their trial should be conducted separately.''

He said a joint trial would suffice and pointed out that separate trial would lead to protracted proceedings.

According to him, the offence is similar relating to a common incident.

The Full Bench on March 17 last ordered framing of charges against the respondents.

The publications included The Times of India, Deccan Herald, The New Indian Express, The Week, Prajavani, Kannada Prabha, Vijaya Karnataka, Udayavani, Lankesh Patrike, Nota, and Agni.

They have been accused of "scandalising the court" by publishing reports alleging that three judges of the High Court were involved in what came to be called as the "Mysore episode."

The Supreme Court during a recent hearing indicated that it intended to wind up proceedings in the case.

A three-judge committee appointed by the then Chief Justice of India, G.B. Patnaik, to inquire into the incident, has submitted its report.

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