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Attorney General KK Venugopal refuses to initiate contempt proceedings against TV journalist Rajdeep Sardesai

New Delhi: Senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai should not be prosecuted for contempt, the attorney general has said, rejecting requests to file a case against the television news anchor for tweets that were accused of criticising the Supreme Court. 

Attorney General KK Venugopal's office had received a request to begin contempt proceedings against Mr Sardesai for his comments on the Supreme Court ruling that found senior advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt last month. The petitioner had reportedly mentioned a number of tweets by the journalist on
 the day the court fined Mr Bhushan Rs. 1 for his social media posts on the judiciary and the Chief Justice. 

 Rejecting the request to prosecute Mr Sardesai, the attorney general said, "Trifling remarks and mere passing criticism though perhaps distasteful are unlikely to tarnish the image of the institution." 
Last month, Mr Venugopal declined permission to an advocate to file a contempt plea against actor Swara Bhasker for comments on the Supreme Court's verdict in the Babri Masjid and Ayodhya land dispute case. 

Cases for contempt have drawn increased public interest after lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan was held guilty of the same charge last month that have stoked discussions on free speech and dissent. Mr Bhushan, the court ruled, had crossed a line in making comments about the judiciary. Mr Bhushan, in his defence, said he considered his tweets "as an attempt for working for the betterment of the institution", and that open criticism was necessary to safeguard democracy in India. 

The attorney general, who had himself filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court against Mr Bhushan last year for comments on the appointment of former interim chief of CBI M Nageswara Rao, this time, urged the court to ignore the veteran lawyer's tweets.

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