The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday proposed framing ‘contempt of court’ charges against former Gujarat law minister Dilip Sanghani for his alleged derogatory remarks against the judiciary at a public meeting in Jamnagar district in 2012. A two-judge bench of the Court, comprising Justice M R Shah and Justice R P Dholeria, proposed framing of charges against Sanghani and posted the case for further hearing to June 26. Sanghani has also filed an affidavit taking preliminary objection against contempt of court proceedings against him.
The issue pertains to a public speech made by Sanghani in Jamnagar on June 2, 2012 when he was the Law Minister of Gujarat. In that speech, Sanghani had stated that he was speaking as a Law Minister and that judiciary was required to be restrained.
Against this speech, a petition was filed by one Rajendra Mistry, seeking contempt of court proceedings against Sanghani. Mistry sought criminal contempt of court proceedings against Sanghani. Acting on the petition, HC had issued notice to Sanghani on March 27, 2014.
Sanghani has filed preliminary objections against the proceedings mainly on two grounds. One of them is that under the provisions of the Contempt of the Courts Act, the proceedings have to be initiated within 12 months of the alleged act. \”…the contempt is alleged to have committed on 2.6.2012 at Jamnagar and this court initiated proceedings for contempt on 27.3.2014. I therefore, say that the proceedings initiated for the alleged contempt is after more than one year, the period which is stipulated under…the act…,” Sanghani said in his affidavit before the court.
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Raising another objection, Sanghani had stated that the proceeding has to be dropped since the Advocate General of Gujarat, Kamal Trivedi, has not given his consent to the proceeding which is mandatory under the law.
Interestingly, the petitioner had moved the court without getting consent of the Advocate General while asking the court to initiate suo motu contempt proceedings against Sanghani. For not waiting to get the Advocate General’s consent, the petitioner had stated, “The opponent being the current Law Minister of the State of Gujarat, it would be an embarrassing situation for the Advocate General to accord consent against the highest law functionary of the State although the post of Advocate General is a constitutional post and he is supposed to act independently.”
Later, the petitioner had sought Advocate General’s consent for initiating the proceedings. But, when he did not receive the reply of the Advocate General, the petitioner moved another affidavit before the court. Subsequently, Trivedi had, in a letter written to the petitioner dated February 19, 2014 — a copy of which is available with The Indian Express — refused to give any decision on the petitioner’s application, stating, “…it clearly appears that the applicant carries an apprehension that seeking consent would be an exercise in futility…Therefore,…I deem it proper not to take any decision in the matter in that, no useful purpose will be served in exercising the function under…the Act at all.”
On April 17, Sanghani had to appear before the court at short notice since judges were not satisfied when he sought time to file a reply. Incidentally, Sanghani was defeated in 2012 Assembly election from the Amreli constituency by Congress candidate Paresh Dhanani.
ENS & PTI