The Bombay High Court on Friday directed YouTube to forthwith delete a secretly-shot video of the proceedings in a high court judge’s courtroom and issued notices to the video-sharing website and search engine Google.
A division bench of justices A S Oka and Anuja Prabhudessai sought their response as to why action under contempt of court should not be initiated against them.
It was hearing a petition filed by the Bombay Bar Association seeking contempt action against those who recorded and uploaded the video on YouTube levelling allegations of corruption against Justice S J Kathawala of the high court.
“The 38-minute video uploaded last week by one ‘Right Mirror’ copies the format of a news channel and shows a person acting as anchor and taking interviews of several persons including a lawyer Nilesh Ojha making scandalous remarks against the judges of this high court. The video also includes clips of the court proceedings shot secretly by one Gopal Shetye,” petitioner’s counsel Rafiq Dada said on Friday.
Dada informed the court that as mandated by law, Advocate General Rohit Deo has given consent to initiate contempt action against 10 people but has refused to give consent to initiate action against YouTube. Dada sought the court to take suo moto cognisance of the issue.
The court after hearing the arguments said the video will have to be removed first.
“Considering the scandalous and contemptuous nature of the video we are inclined to order the respondents to forthwith remove the offending videos,” the court said.
“We are issuing show cause notice to respondents 11 to 14 (YouTube and Google) and seek their response as to why proceedings under contempt of court should not be initiated against them. The respondents shall file their replies by March 24,” Justice Oka ordered.
The court further issued notice of contempt against one Rishi Pandit, who is seen anchoring the show in the video, Gopal Shetye, who shot the court proceedings, and a few others who were seen giving interviews in the video.
The bench also sought to know from the Union government what steps it proposes to take on the issue. “Under the IT Act, the union government is not powerless. The Union government shall ensure that our order is implemented. We would like to hear the government’s stance too since this is not the first time such things are happening,” the court said.
Ever since the video surfaced, the high court issued a ban on carrying mobile phones or any other electronic devices inside courtrooms.