The Jharkhand High Court last week agreed to drop contempt proceedings initiated against Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) MLA Bhola Yadav for his comments on the fodder scam verdict, which had sentenced RJD president Lalu Prasad to 14 years in jail, with a fine of Rs. 60 lakh.
The Bench comprising Justice Aparesh Kumar Singh and Justice Ratnaker Bhengra accepted his unconditional and unqualified apology, subject to payment of cost of Rs. 2.5 Lakhs towards the Kerala Chief Minister’s Flood Relief Fund.
The criminal contempt case was instituted on a reference made by the Additional Judicial Commissioner-I, Ranchi through letter dated 19th May, 2018 highlighting his comments published in Dainik Bhaskar on the fodder scam judgment.
He had now defended himself before the Court, submitting that he had been misquoted by the media and that he had levelled allegations against the CBI and not the court. He had also pointed out that on coming to know of the statement published by Dainik Bhaskar, he had intimated the newspaper of the mistake. The newspaper had then published his statement explaining his bona fides and regretting any such impression created by the news report.
He had further submitted that the newspaper report is only a hearsay evidence, and that presumption of genuineness attached under Section 81 of the Evidence Act to a newspaper cannot be treated as a proof of fact reported therein.
Considering the documents placed before it, the Court however opined that Mr. Yadav had, in fact, made unwarranted comments on the judgment. It observed, “We have considered the submission of learned counsel for the parties, gone through the relevant materials on record and show cause submitted by the opposite party. 
The opposite party definitely appears to have crossed the threshold of propriety in making unwarranted comments upon the delivery of judgment of conviction and sentence by the learned court of A.J.C-I, Ranchi. The tendency to make unwarranted comments in respect of the court proceedings and the order passed does have a effect of lowering the majesty of the courts if allowed to go unchecked.”
Nevertheless, the Court was of the view that he had, through his subsequent conduct, tried to make amends, with an explanation being published in the newspaper and unconditional and unqualified apology having been offered before the court. In such circumstances, the Court accepted his apology, subject to payment of cost of Rs. 2.5 Lakhs towards Kerala flood relief fund.
It further warned him against making any such statements in the future, observing, “The opposite party is cautioned to remain careful in future. It is also made clear that any such transgression or impropriety which scandalizes or lowers or tends to lower the authority of the court or tends to interfere with or obstructs in the administration of justice, would not be condoned.”