The Attorney General of India, KK Venugopal, has granted consent to activist Shachi Nelli to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Yati Narsinghanand, the head priest of the Dasna Devi temple.
In an interview, the video of which went viral on social media, Narsinghanand said that he does not trust the Supreme Court nor the Constitution of India. He said, "This Constitution will eat up 100 crore Hindus. Whoever trusts this Constitution will get killed. Whoever trusts the system, the politicians, Supreme Court, the police, the army will die like a dog."
The AG has deemed that the remarks made by Narsinghanand in the said video are a “direct attempt to lower the authority of the Supreme Court in the minds of the general public. This would certainly amount to contempt of the Supreme Court of India.”
The AG has accordingly granted consent as required under section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 and Rules to Regulate Proceedings for Contempt of the Supreme Court of India. Under the Act, the Supreme Court or the High Court may take action on its own motion or if any other person is seeking to initiate criminal contempt proceedings, then the consent of the Attorney General is required.
Yati Narsinghanand teetered on the edge of lawlessness earlier too, but artfully dodged any real action. But the latest development brings hope to people who have been striving to bring him to book for the many serious hate crimes. The Haridwar ‘Dharam Sansad’ matter where Narsinghanand was a key speaker, is now before the apex court and it has issued notice to the central government as well the Uttarakhand Police. The petition was against the Uttarakhand police’s failure to take any criminal action against the persons who made calls for genocide at the Dharam Sansad.
After the Supreme Court issued notice, the Uttarakhand Police made one paltry arrest of Wasim Rizvi now known as Jitendra Narayan Singh Tyagi. When Narsinghanand got to know of Tyagi’s arrest, he said to the police, "Tum sab maroge… apne baccho ko bhi...(All of you will die, your children too)”. This despite him being aware that he was being recorded on camera.
Later Narsinghanand was also arrested on January 15 and the Uttarakhand State Director General of Police (DGP) Ashok Kumar said that Narsinghanand was arrested in two separate cases - one related to misogyny and the other related to the Dharm Sansad Hate Speech. He said, "The accused was served notice under Section 41(A) of the CrPC on January 14. When he did not honour the notice, he was arrested in both the cases." He added, "We sought his judicial remand from court and he has been sent to 14-days judicial custody." He was then denied bail by a CJM court in Haridwar.
The plea for contempt
In her letter, Nelli, a Mumbai based activist quotes section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 which defines ‘criminal contempt’ as follows:
(c) “criminal contempt” means the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which—
(i) scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court; or
(ii) prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or
(iii) interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner;
She had stated that the comments made by Yati Narsinghanand are trying to undermine the majesty of the institution and the authority vested in the Supreme Court of India. Her letter says, “It is a vile and clear attempt at interfering in the course of justice by means of abusive rhetoric and baseless attacks on the integrity of the Constitution and the courts. Any such attempt to harm the majesty of the institution and diminish the faith that the citizens of India have in the Court can result in complete chaos and anarchy. This is perhaps the most vicious attack on the Supreme Court in its history.”