Supreme Court issues contempt notice to Assam MLA Karim Uddin Barbhuiya, says social media comments distorting court proceedings

The Supreme Court recently expressed serious concern over the misuse of social media platforms, where factually incorrect and unfounded statements are made regarding cases which are subjudice. 

Taking cognizance of a Facebook post published by a party leader whose case was reserved for judgment, the court initiated contempt proceedings against him for misleading the public about the court.

The bench comprising Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Bela Trivedi initiated contempt proceedings against Assam MLA Karim Uddin Barbhuiya, who on March 20, posted on Facebook that the Court had favoured his case, when in fact the matter was only reserved for judgment on the same day. 

The Supreme Court expressed displeasure at the recent trends of misusing social media platforms under the aegis of the right to freedom of expression to tarnish the integrity of the Court and misinform the masses.

The court remarked that it is a matter of serious concern that there has been a profuse misuse of social media platforms on which the messages, comments, articles are being posted in respect of the matters pending in the Court. It underlined that though court is broad enough to bear any blame or criticism, the comments or posts published in respect of pending matters, through social media platforms under the guise of the right to freedom of speech and expression, which have the tendency of undermining the authority of the Courts or of interfering with the course of justice, deserves serious consideration.

Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta appearing on behalf of the contempt petitioner submitted that the published post interferes with the sanctity of judicial proceedings and administration of justice and thus, merits the court’s interference. The top court noted that the alleged contemnor, has published a post on his facebook account on March 20 to the effect that the Supreme Court has ruled in his favour and that the allegations brought against him to defame him have fallen flat. 

The matter relates to the election petition challenging the 2021 Assembly election of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) leader and Assam MLA Karim Uddin Barbhuiya. The bench emphasized that it was not acceptable to distort the image of the judiciary and the remarks of the judges during court proceedings. The court underlined that such an attempt at distortion interferes with the confidence in the judicial mechanism and causes prejudice to the parties concerned.

Issuing contempt notice to Assam MLA Karim Uddin Barbhuiya, the Court directed him to stay physically present in the next hearing. Furthermore, a copy of the present order was further directed to be furnished before the Attorney General of India. The matter will now be heard after 4 weeks.

Earlier on April 8, the bench had delivered the verdict of the said pending election petition. The Court had dismissed the election petition instituted against Barbhuiya and found the allegations levied by Laskar to be vague and devoid of any material facts. The contemnor was represented by Senior Advocate Menaka Guruswamy. 

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