Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, June 3
Posting a message on Facebook against a Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge has landed a lawyer in trouble. Making it clear that the dignity of the judicial system can be lowered with the publication of a Facebook post as well, a Division Bench has sentenced contemnor-advocate Manish Vashishth to a month’s simple imprisonment.
The suo motu contempt case had been initiated against the Narnaul-based advocate after he posted on Facebook remarks against a High Court Judge in connection with a judicial order passed by him on August 24 last year. The Bench noted that the order was passed in some personal litigation involving the contemnor.
In his Facebook post, Vashishth alleged that the judgment passed against him by the High Court was “not speaking” and a better decision could have been written by a magistrate. He claimed that the Judge had not uploaded the judgment as he might not have understood what was to be written.
The Bench asserted that such a derogatory remark was contemptuous on the face of it and as such, the contemnor was held guilty of having committed contempt of court.
The Bench noted that the general public’s faith in the judiciary would be shattered in case punishment was not awarded to a person scandalising and lowering the authority of not just the court but also the judiciary in the eyes of the general public by his publication.
“The dignity and authority of the court has to be maintained not only by the general public, but also by advocates, who constitute an important part of the system of the administration of justice and are considered as officers of the court,” asserted the Bench of Justice MMS Bedi and Hari Pal Verma.
Before parting with the order, the Bench stated that the order of sentence would not be implemented till the Supreme Court reopened after the summer break on July 2 for enabling him to avail the statutory right to file an appeal.
He should surrender in the Narnaul CJM’s court on July 31 to undergo the sentence, the Bench ruled. In case of failure, it would be open to the CJM to issue warrants of arrest against the contemnor, subject to any order passed by the appellate court, the Bench concluded.