Inciting people at large against the Rule of Law and against one of the basic wings of the democratic setup, contempt proceedings initiated: Punjab High Court.
The Punjab High Court, in Court on its own motion v/s Union of India and others (CROCPNo.2of2023), delivered on 24th February, 2023, initiated contempt proceedings against dismissed Punjab police DSP Balwinder Singh Sekhon. The judgement was presided by Honourable Mr. Justice G.S.Sandhawalia and Honourable Ms. Justice Harpreet Kaur Jeewan.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
Contempt proceedings were initiated by the court post a series of videos and use of social media, extensively was undertaken by the dismissed DSP. Sekhon and his aide were also observed giving media bytes to news channels while in police custody. Since the past 6 months, derogatory remarks through the medium of videos posted on social media were made against a judge of the Supreme Court and judges of the High Court. On being sentenced to 6 months imprisonments under criminal contempt, Balwinder Singh Sekhon raised slogans in open court held by the Court as he compounded the contempt.
A writ petition was filed by Sekhon on being dismissed from service. Consequently, there were videos circulated pertaining to the judicial proceedings. Subsequently, Sekhon (and an alleged legal expert) aired themselves at the entrance of the court and expressed about the proceeding of the court. The Court held that personal allegations and abuses were hurled against the bench which had heard the case.
The Court initiated proceedings under Section 14 of the Criminal Contempt, Act 1971. It was held that the remarks made against the judiciary were malicious, derogatory and libellous in nature and amounted to inciting people against the Rule of Law at the national and international levels. The court held that there was enough evidence available, online and videos on social sites to initiate the proceedings and that no further delay was required, in order for the message to reach home.
Allegations and abuses were made against the judges to the fullest, and the Court ordered for their arrest and directed that they be sent to judicial custody and produced before the court on charges of contempt. The court has sought for further explanation on punishment beyond contempt. Whether the offending videos amount to offence of the IPC or even the Information and Technology Act, 2000.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY ARYA THAKUR.