I didn't mean to denigrate judiciary, says Jayarajan
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader M.V. Jayarajan, who was found guilty of criminal contempt by the Kerala High Court for criticising the judiciary and sentenced to six months' simple imprisonment and a fine of Rs.2,000, on Saturday challenged the November 8 judgment in the Supreme Court.
In his appeal, filed by advocate P.V. Dinesh, Mr. Jayarajan maintained that he never meant to denigrate the institution or judges. He was only making a fair criticism, absolutely bona fide, but it was misunderstood as an attitude of stubbornness on his part. His endeavour to establish that his alleged act was never an act of disobedience or challenge to the authority of law and judges was not properly appreciated.
There was no reliable document before the High Court to arrive at the requisite satisfaction, enabling it to issue him a contempt notice. Quoting a catena of the Supreme Court's decisions, Mr. Jayarajan said it had time and again held that only when criticism of the judicial institution transgressed all limits of decency and fairness or there was a lack of objectivity or there was a deliberate attempt to denigrate the institution, would the court use the power of contempt.
The appeal said: “In his speech he has emphasised that the judiciary is the last resort of the people, even when the executive and the legislature fail. The appellant was only making a fair criticism.” Further the words used were colloquial and commonly prevalent in the locality of the appellant where he made the speech. The entire controversy arose only when the speech was published by certain sections of the media after much editing and taking what was said out of context, admittedly for sensationalising the issue.
Mr. Jayarajan pointed out that witnesses who were examined to prove that he had committed contempt in fact proved contra, but the High Court discredited them for no valid reason. The reasoning process was erroneous to the extent of attributing baseless motives to the witnesses, he said. A close reading of the impugned judgment would reveal that the High Court was predetermined while approaching the issue. The appreciation of evidence tendered and the discussions appearing under various sub-headings of the judgment would reveal the same. The High Court pronounced the judgment in open court and he was taken to jail immediately.