From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Articles related to contempt of court
Mains level : Paper 2-Contempt of court
The concept of contempt of court has been in the news recently. This article analyses the issue and draws on the approach adopted by the British judiciary.
Issues with the concept of contempt
- The concept of contempt is a centuries-old British law abolished in 2013.
- At the time the British Law Commission said that one of the intentions for contempt of court was to hide judicial corruption.
- The concept, therefore, clashed with the need for transparency but also freedom of speech.
Let’s look into some comment’s from judges
- In1968, a British judge, had this to say of the Law of Contempt “We will not use it to suppress those who speak against us. We do not fear criticism, nor do we resent it. For there is something far more important at stake. It is no less than freedom of speech itself. “
- In a 2008 lecture by Justice Markandey Katju noted that “The test to determine whether an act amounts to contempt of court or not is this: Does it make the functioning of judges impossible or extremely difficult? If it does not, then it does not amount to contempt of court even if it’s harsh criticism”.
- Whilst justice is important, judges must not take themselves too seriously.
- Even if their amour propre is offended, it does not mean the institution has been questioned or justice brought into disrepute.
- Judges deliver justice, they do not embody it.
- They should never forget their Court is supreme because it’s final not because it’s infallible.
- When they lapse they can be criticised, but of course, politely and fairly.
Indian Supreme Court hopefully pay attention to this aspect while delivering the judgement on the contempt cases.