N Ram, Arun Shourie, Prashant Bhushan problem validity of ‘criminal contempt’

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 1

Senior journalist N Ram, former union minister Arun Shourie and activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan have moved the Supreme Court difficult the constitutional validity of ‘felony contempt’.

They have challenged Section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, that defines ‘felony contempt’ as publication of something – whether or not by phrases, spoken or written, or by indicators, or by seen illustration, or in any other case of any matter or the doing of every other act by any means – which scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to decrease the authority of any court docket.

Section 2(c)(I)  was a manifestly arbitrary and obscure provision of legislation which violated proper to equality and proper to free speech assured below the Constitution, they contended within the petition filed on Friday.

“The broad and ambiguous wording of the sub-section violates Article 14 by leaving the offence open to differing and inconsistent applications. This uncertainty in the manner in which the law applies renders it manifestly arbitrary and violates the right to equal treatment,” they submitted.

Terming it as unconstitutional, the trio argued, “It is incompatible with preamble values and primary options of the Constitution, it violates Article 19(1)(a), is unconstitutionally and incurably obscure, and is manifestly arbitrary.” 

The petition has been filed days earlier than the Supreme Court is scheduled to take up two contempt petitions towards Bhushan for allegedly bringing the establishment of judiciary below disrepute.

The Supreme Court had on July 22 issued notices to Bhushan and Twitter Inc for his tweets allegedly scandalising the judiciary. 

Two days later, a Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra additionally determined to renew listening to in one other contempt of court docket case towards him pending since 2009. 

The two instances are listed for listening to on August four and 5.

Earlier, a bunch of 131 former judges, ex-bureaucrats and activists got here out in his help, terming it as an try at stifling criticism. 

The group — which included former Supreme Court decide Madan B Lokur, former Delhi High Court Chief Justice AP Shah and a number of other retired bureaucrats and teachers — appealed to the highest court docket to drop the felony contempt proceedings towards Bhushan.


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