Petition against contempt law | Explanation sought from Supreme Court Registry on listing

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

An explanation has been sought from the Supreme Court Registry officials involved in the listing of a writ petition filed jointly by veteran journalists N. Ram and Arun Shourie along with advocate Prashant Bhushan challenging a law that makes “scandalising of court” a ground for contempt.

Also read: Supreme Court to hear plea against contempt law on August 10

A short note from an official source in the Supreme Court said a ‘mistake’ has been made by the Registry in the listing of the case.

The writ petition was listed for hearing before a Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and K.M. Joseph on August 10. The court website now shows the petition has been dropped from the list of cases before that Bench on that day.

The note explained that the petition, as per established procedure, should have been listed before the Bench which was already seized of a “similar matter”.

Also read: Supreme Court issues notice to Prashant Bhushan over tweets

A three-judge Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra had recently initiated and heard a suo motu contempt case against Mr. Bhushan for “scandalising the court” with his tweet featuring a photograph of Chief Justice Sharad A. Bobde on a heavy bike and another about the role of the apex court in the past six years. The Justice Mishra Bench has already reserved the case for orders.

The present writ petition is accompanied by an application for stay of all contempt proceedings initiated on the ground of “scandalising the court”, which includes the suo motu proceedings before the Justice Mishra Bench.

Also read: Supreme Court reserves orders in Prashant Bhushan contempt case

The writ petition has challenged the legality of Section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Court Act, which deals with contempt on the ground of scandalising the court and the “chilling effect” it has on free speech and right to dissent.

Section 2(c) (i) holds it is criminal contempt if a person publishes, by words spoken or written or by any other act, anything “which scandalises or tends to scandalise or lowers or tends to lower the authority of any court”.

“ ‘Scandalising the court’ is rooted in colonial assumption and objects, which has no place in legal orders committed to democratic constitutionality and maintenance of an open robust public sphere,” the writ petition said.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 2:51:04 AM |

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