New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has sentenced four journalists from Delhi's Mid-Day eveninger to four months' imprisonment for contempt of court for writing and publishing news reports critical of the former chief justice of India, Y K Sabharwal.
They have also been slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 each. The journalists have, however, been granted bail as per a Supreme Court order.
The High Court convicted the journalists for some reports in the paper which claimed that Sabharwal had ordered the sealing of lakhs of commercial establishments in New Delhi last year while his sons got into partnerships with shopping malls and developers of commercial complexes.
The four journalists convicted for the same are Mid-day City Editor M K Tayal, the then Publisher S K Akhtar, Resident Editor Vitusha Oberoi and cartoonist Irfan Khan. The four will appeal the judgement in the Supreme Court.
Passing the order, a Division Bench comprising Justice R S Sodhi and Justice B N Chaturvedi of the High Court directed that the four be released on bail in view of the Supreme Court order, which had earlier asked the court to grant them bail after pronouncement of the sentence.
"We feel, in this peculiar case, the contemnors have tarnished the image of the highest court and the sentence of four months' imprisonment would serve the justice," the Bench said.
The court directed the four to furnish a personal bond of Rs 10,000 each and two sureties of the same amount for the bail. All the contemnors, along with some other journalists, were present in the court when the order of sentence was dictated by the Bench.
The court, on September 11, had held them guilty, saying that they had crossed the Laxman Rekha.
"The publications in the garb of scandalising a retired Chief Justice of India have, in fact, attacked the very institution, which according to us, is nothing short of contempt," the Bench said in its judgement on articles and cartoons that appeared in the newspaper about Sabharwal.
"The Supreme Court in its judgement has clearly laid down the Laxman Rekha which we feel the publications have crossed," it said. The court had on August 20 reserved its judgment in the case.
Taking suo-motu cognisance of the articles published in the city tabloid, which alleged that Justice Sabharwal's order on sealing issue had been passed for the benefit of his sons who were involved in real estate business, the High Court on May 18 had issued notices to its editor, reporter and publisher.
It later also issued a notice to the cartoonist of the tabloid for making a 'caricature' of Sabharwal.
(With inputs from PTI)