The Supreme Court on Thursday closed a contempt case against N Shanmugham, an 88-year old retired public servant, for writing objectionable letters to senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan for appearing for Muslim parties in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute matter.
A five-judge bench, comprising of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan, and S Abdul Nazeer said that the man had expressed regret for using such objectionable words in his communication to Dhavan.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Dhavan, said that he does want any punishment for the retired public servant but a message should be sent to all in the country that there should not be any intimidation of any counsel appearing for any party. The counsel appearing for N Shanmugham said that he was expressing his regret for using such words in the letter to Dhavan. The 88-year-old Professor tendered an unconditional apology for writing the letter to Dhavan. The CJI also sternly told the professor that this will not be tolerated in the future.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan had last month filed a petition against N Shanmugham, a Chennai based professor, after receiving alleged intimidating letters. He claimed that he was threatened for representing Muslim parties in the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid dispute.
In the petition, Rajeev Dhavan stated that the letter, written by the 88-year-old professor, purportedly asked Dhavan that how could he "betray his faith" by appearing on behalf of Muslims for "their so-called right in Ayodhya". The letter allegedly uttered curses at the Senior Advocate and stated that he will "pay for his blasphemy". The letter also allegedly said that physical disabilities will befall him for taking up the case on behalf of Muslim parties against the deity 'Ram Lalla'.
On the basis of these allegations, a contempt notice was served to Professor Shanmugham, however, his physical presence wasn't mandated. Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan also claimed in his petition that he and his clerk were being 'accosted at home and in the court premises with intimidating behaviour by several persons'. He said that he also 'received a WhatsApp message from one Sanjay Kalal Bajrangi which is also an attempt to interfere with the administration of justice before this Hon’ble Court'.
During the course of the hearing, CJI Gogoi strongly condemned the threat and said, "This should not be happening in the country. We deprecate such statements. Both sides are free to put their arguments before the court without any fear."