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Apex court stays criminal contempt proceedings against Arundhati Roy

The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the criminal contempt proceedings against author and activist Arundhati Roy.

The proceedings were initiated suo motu by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court in 2015 taking cognisance of her alleged remarks against the judiciary for not granting bail to former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba’s, who was facing criminal charges for being a Maoist “sympathiser.”

Roy has challenged the proceedings before the SC.

In March 2017, Saibaba was sentenced to life imprisonment for harbouring Maoist links.

When a Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) J.S. Khehar asked whether she would like to tender an apology for her article and end the case against her, Ms. Roy, through her counsel, bluntly refused the offer.

“This is not at all a case for an apology,” senior advocate C.U. Singh, flanked by advocate Prashant Bhushan, responded to the court.

Immediately thereafter, the CJI ordered the staying of further proceedings in the Bombay High Court.

Ms. Roy had argued that the criminal case against her tantamount to choking the voice of opposition in a democracy and produced an “intense chilling effect” on the fundamental right of free expression.

Saibaba was arrested in 2014 by the Gadchiroli police for his alleged links with Maoists.

Reportedly, Roy termed her words in the article as “nasty”, the court observed “Calling the government and police as being ‘afraid’ of the applicant, ‘abductor’ and ‘thief’, and the magistrate from a ‘small town’, demonstrate the surly, rude and boorish attitude of the author in a most tolerant country like India.”

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