Scientist and political commentator Dr Anand Ranganathan refused to apologise in a Suo Motu criminal contempt of court case initiated by the Delhi High Court.
In 2018, the Delhi High Court granted relief to Naxal sympathiser Gautam Navlakha. Journalist S Gurumurthy and film director Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri criticised the judgment of the Delhi High Court. For their criticism, both were slapped with the criminal contempt of court.
In support of Gurumurthy and Agnihotri, Dr Ranganathan had posted “I stand with them” and “Whatever happened to dissent being the safety valve of democracy” on Twitter.
For these two tweets, he was made a party to the criminal contempt of court case.
In a statement, Dr Ranganathan said, “I stood with them not only because I am a free-speech absolutist but also as I fundamentally oppose the Contempt of Court charge, because of which I have even stood publicly with that rogue Prashant Bhushan even though I vehemently disagreed with his opinion of the judge and the judgment.”
In the last four years since the charges were slapped, Gurumurthy had apologised, but Dr Ranganathan was never served any notice by the court in the matter. He was served a notice only on Wednesday (May 4).
Refusing to apologise for his two posts, Dr Ranganathan said, “I have done nothing wrong and I continue to oppose the criminal contempt of court charge and I remain a free-speech absolutist and so I will not apologise. I had once remarked: If I am not in jail right now it is because the State has decided I need not be jailed. The State is probably getting ready to decide otherwise. So be it.”
Dr Ranganathan is currently working with the Special Centre for Molecular Medicine at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi.