The Karnataka High Court has initiated criminal contempt of court proceedings against a 72-year-old man who wrote a letter to the High Court registry threatening to kill two judges of the High Court and Supreme Court as well as two lawyers.
A Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum opined that the allegations made in the letter by SV Srinivasa Rao is prima facie contemptuous as per the Contempt of Courts Act.
The order passed by the Court on February 3 reads:
“The allegations made in the said letter prima facie constitute a criminal contempt under clause (c) of Section 2 of the said Act……We are satisfied that a prima facie case has been made out to initiate action against the respondent/accused for committing criminal contempt of this Court. Hence, issue notice in Form-1 in accordance with Rule 8 of the High Court of Karnataka (Contempt of Court Proceedings) Rules, 1981. Even a copy of this order shall be forwarded along with the notice. The notice is made returnable on 1st March 2021.”
The Court also directed the Registrar General of the High Court to forward a copy of the letter dated January 29 to the police officer in charge of the security of the High Court.
The factual matrix of the issue can be traced back to a memo of personal appearance dated September 4, 2020 filed by Rao in a case in which he was party. In the memo, he used very objectionable adjectives about the judges of the Supreme Court and also made sweeping allegations against members of the Karnataka Bar Council and Bar Council of India.
In view of the same, the Division Bench, which was hearing that matter, directed the Registry, on November 6, 2020 to initiate suo motu proceeding for criminal contempt against Rao. This was done after giving an opportunity to Rao to withdraw the allegations.
The Division Bench in its order of November 6 recorded the reasons for passing the said order observing that no person can be permitted to intimidate or terrorize judges by making scandalous, unwarranted, and baseless imputations.
Despite that, Rao, on Janaury 29, 2021 sent a letter to the High Court registry. The letter, as per the February 3 order of the Court, contained scandalous allegations against a senior judge of the High Court, who was part of a Division Bench, which had passed the order on November 6, 2020. The letter alleged that the said judge was acting under the influence of the retired Judges of the Supreme Court.
“In paragraph 5 of the said letter, the respondent/accused claimed that recently, he has decided to kill two erring Judges amongst the highly corrupt 28 Judges of this Court and the Apex Court along with two corrupt Advocates,” the High Court in its order of February 3 noted.
The Court, therefore, issued notice to Rao and ordered that he shall remain personally present through video conference.
“The respondent/accused shall appear through video conferencing before the Court and his personal presence is not dispensed with,” the Court made it clear.
The matter will be next heard on March 1.