The Supreme Court on Thursday accepted an unqualified apology by a man against whom it had issued contempt notice for making certain public statements on the publication of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. “Never ever do it again,” a bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R F Nariman warned Abhijeet Sarma, who had filed a petition in the name of NGO Assam Public Works.
At the outset, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told the apex court that prima facie, Sarma’s statement at a press conference amounted to criminal contempt. “It is a criminal contempt because it is interference in the judicial proceedings which is being monitored by this court,” he said.
Sarma’s counsel apologised on his behalf and said he never intended to say such things as he has been pursuing the case for last eight years.
“Though the statement made in press by the alleged contemnor appears to be ill-advised and in a way contemptous, we are of the view that having regard to the unqualified apology tendered by the alleged contemnor, we accept the same,” the bench said.
The top court had initiated contempt proceedings on its own after perusing the August 30 report of Assam coordinator for National Registration, Prateek Hajela.
During the hearing today, the bench sought responses from the Centre and Assam government on the report submitted by the coordinator in which he had apprehended law and order situation in the process.
It asked them to filed their responses on or before November 7 and posted the matter for hearing on November 11.
It also directed the Ministry of Home Affairs and state authorities to take steps to ensure that no untoward incident occurs in the state in the process of making list for NRC.
The apex court was hearing a matter relating to the fencing of the India-Bangladesh border.
It had earlier rapped Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal for his “intervention” in the process of publication of the NRC which is being monitored by the top court.
The court had observed that when it was monitoring the process of preparation and publication of the draft NRC, which is meant to identify original residents of the state to check illegal migration, through a court-appointed committee, no agency or authority can make such a statement.