Senior journalist N Ram, former Union minister Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan moved the Supreme Court docket (SC) on Friday difficult the validity of part 2(c)(i) of Contempt of Courts Act, which criminalises publication of any matter that might scandalise or decrease the authority of courts.
The petitioners contended that the supply is violative of freedom of speech beneath Article 19 of the Structure and successfully gags discourse on issues of public significance.
“It violates proper to free speech and expression assured beneath Article 19(1)(a). It’s unconstitutional as it’s incompatible with the preambular values and primary options of the structure,” the plea stated.
The SC had just lately invoked the supply to subject discover to Bhushan for his tweets towards Chief Justice of India (CJI), SA Bobde and the apex courtroom.
It was submitted that the supply raises a previous restraint on speech on issues of public and political significance by criminalising criticism of courtroom in sweeping and absolute phrases.
“The offences of scandalising the courtroom is rooted in colonial assumptions and objects and haven’t any place in authorized orders dedicated to democratic constitutionalism,” the petition stated.
The Contempt of Court docket at gives for civil and felony contempt.
Civil contempt is outlined beneath Part 2(b) as wilful disobedience to any judgment, order or route of a courtroom or wilful breach of an enterprise given to a courtroom.
Part 2(c) offers with felony contempt and makes an attempt to punish publication of any materials or fee of any act towards courts.
This provision has three sub-clauses, which clarify when such a publication or act might quantity to felony contempt.
First, if such publication or act scandalises or lowers the authority of any courtroom (sub –clause i), second, if it prejudices or interferes with any judicial continuing (sub-clause ii) and third, if it interferes with or obstructs administration of justice (sub-clause iii).
The petitioners have challenged solely sub-clause (i), which criminalises any publication or act on the bottom that it scandalises or lowers the authority of the courtroom.
The supply, it was contended, has a particularly large import and is incapable of goal interpretation.
“For instance, an interrogation by a site visitors constable about whether or not the purple beacon on the hood of a choose’s automobile was held to be contempt on the bottom of scandalising the courtroom,” the petition acknowledged.
It was argued that the supply makes use of obscure terminology, whose scope and limits are inconceivable to demarcate.
“Specifically, the terminology ‘scandalises or tends to scandalise’ invitations subjective and significantly differing readings and purposes. It violates Article 14, which calls for equal therapy and non –arbitrariness,” the plea added.