HC sentences Mid Day journalists to 4 month imprisonment

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New Delhi, Sep 21 (UNI) The Delhi High Court today sentenced four journalists of the tabloid Mid Day to four month imprisonment on contempt of court charges for publishing unsubstantiated reports against former Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal.

A division bench comprising Justices R S Sodhi and B N Chaturvedi asked the journalists to pay a fine of Rs 10,000 each for lowering the dignity of the apex court.

However, the mediapersons were granted bail in accordance with the Supreme Court order which had ruled that they may be granted bail in the eventuality of the High Court sentencing them to imprisonment.

The High Court convicted the journalists for reports published in the newspaper alleging former CJI Y K Sabharwal's orders on sealing were biased and were meant to influence the business of his sons, who had contacts with mall owners.

The four convicted are Mid Day city editor M K Tayal, the then publisher S K Akhtar, resident-editor Vitusha Oberoi and cartoonist Irfan Khan.

The four have earlier appealed in the Supreme Court for quashing the order of the High Court which had pronounced the conviction, but the apex court, however, did not stay the conviction and ruled that they may be granted bail in the event of arrest orders.

The High Court held the accusations made on the former Chief Justice were on the orders he passed when he was a member of a bench of Supreme Court which jointly passed the sealing orders.

Casting any comments on the correctness of the orders also lowers the dignity of the other judges of the bench and thus had lowered the dignity of the highest institution of the country.

Justice Sodhi had taken suo moto notice of the media reports and issued notices to the journalists stating that they had crossed the limits.

''The publication in the garb of scandalising a retired Chief Justice of India, in fact have attacked the very institution, which according to us, is nothing short of contempt,'' the bench said on the articles and cartoons that appeared in the newspaper about Justice Sabharwal.

UNI

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