The Courts have harmonised the constitutional values of free criticism, the Forth Estate included, and the need for a fearless curial process and its presiding functionary, the Judge. A happy balance is struck, the benefit of being given generously against the Judge, slurring over marginal deviations but severely proving the supremacy of the law over pugnacious, vicious, unrepentant and malignant contemners, be the powerful press, gang-up of vested interests, veteran columnists of Olympian establishmentarians. Not because the Judge, the human symbol of a high value, is personally armoured by a regal privilege but you “be you- the contemner- ever so high- the People’s expression of Justice- is above you”.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan- sworn minister of justice owes a duty to his profession and to his fellow member at the Bar. His profession is his pride, and to preserve its pure honour must be his prime concern. For she is a jealous mistress.
The purity of the Bench depends on the purity of the Bar. The integrity of the Judiciary is the safeguard of the nation, but the character of Judges is practically but the character of the lawyers. A degraded Bar will inevitably produce a degraded Bench.
Indeed, to criticise the Judge fairly, albeit fiercely, is no crime but a necessary right, twice blessed in a democracy For, it blesseth him that gives and him that takes. A free people are the ultimate guarantors of fearless justice.
If the attack on the Judge or Judges is scurrilous, offensive, intimidatory or malicious beyond condonable limits, the strong arm of the law, in the name of public interest and public justice, will strike a blow on him who challenges the supremacy of law by fouling its source and stream.
(Letter formation poem)
According to Merriam- Webster: A medium of cultivation, conveyance, or expression.1
Media is the plural of medium and can take a plural or singular verb, depending on the sense intended.2
What can Media do for us?
Media fulfils several basic roles in our society. One obvious role is entertainment. Media also provides information and education.
Today, newspapers and news-oriented television and radio programs make available stories from across the globe.
Another useful aspect of media can be used to monitor government, business, and other institutions.
Similarly, the media has the ability to act as a public forum for the discussion of important issues. In newspapers or other periodicals, letters to the editor allow readers to respond to journalists or to voice their opinions on the issues of the day.3
Social media is a new driver of the convergent media sector. The term social media refers to technologies, platforms, and services that enable individuals to engage in communication from one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many.
Social media is exemplified by the rise of online communication services that include the network Facebook, the microblogging service Twitter, the video-sharing Web site YouTube, blog software such as Blogger and WordPress, and many others.4
How did the concept of contempt come into being?
The concept of contempt of court is several centuries old. In England, it is a common law principle that seeks to protect the judicial power of the king, initially exercised by himself, and later by a panel of judges who acted in his name.
Violation of the judges’ orders was considered an affront to the king himself. Over time, any kind of disobedience to judges, or obstruction of the implementation of their directives, or comments and actions that showed disrespect towards them came to be punishable.5
What are the kinds of contempt of court?
The law codifying contempt classifies it as civil and criminal.
Civil contempt is fairly simple. It is committed when someone wilfully disobeys a court order, or wilfully breaches an undertaking given to court.
Criminal contempt is more complex. It consists of three forms:
(a) words, written or spoken, signs and actions that “scandalise” or “tend to scandalise” or “lower” or “tends to lower” the authority of any court
(b) prejudices or interferes with any judicial proceeding and
(c) interferes with or obstructs the administration of justice.6
OBJECT OF CONTEMPT
In Brahma Prakash Sharma and Others versus The State of Uttar Pradesh7 it was held that the object of contempt proceedings is not to afford protection to Judges personally from imputations to which they may be exposed as individuals; it is intended to be a protection to the public whose interests would be very much affected if by the act or conduct of any party, the authority of the court is lowered and the sense of confidence which people have in the administration of justice by it is weakened.
PRASHANT BHUSHAN’S CONTROVERSY
Prashant Bhushan is a public interest lawyer at the Supreme Court of India. He is a senior counsel in the Supreme Court with 35 years of standing. He is a founding member of Campaign for Judicial Accountability, which includes several senior counsels of repute. He has brought certain corruption cases and causes to the Court such as V. Ramaswamy case, Coal Mining case, Goa Mining case, Orissa Mining case, an issue relating to the appointment of CVC, CBI Director’s case, etc.
The Controversial Tweet
A petition came to be filed in the Supreme Court of India by one Mahek Maheshwari bringing to the notice of the Court, a tweet made by Mr. Prashant Bhushan (alleged contemner no.1)praying therein to initiate contempt proceedings against him as well as Twitter (alleged contemner no.2) for wilfully and deliberately using hate/scandalous speech against Supreme Court and entire judicial system by (alleged contemner no.1) and the same being not blocked by its platform.(alleged contemner no.2)
The Registry of the Apex Court placed the said petition on the Administrative side seeking direction as to whether it should be listed for hearing or not, as consent of the learned Attorney General for India had not been obtained by as the procedure suggests by the complainant.
Accordingly, the petition was placed before the Supreme Court on 22.7.2020. This dealt with a tweet by Mr. Bhushan which was made against the Chief Justice of India.
Apart from that, another tweet by Mr. Bhushan had been published today in the Times of India on June 27, 2020.
The Apex Court finally took Suo motu cognizance of both the tweets i.e. which was complained as well as which was published in Times of India and registered the proceedings.
PRIMA FACIE VIEW
The Court viewed these two tweets as contemptuous for bringing the administration of justice into disrepute and lowering the authority of the Court.
The prima facie view was that the act done by alleged contemner was ‘criminal contempt’ by scandalising the Supreme Court and issued notices to Mr. Bhushan and Twitter Inc.
PRASHANT BHUSHAN’S RESPONSE
Mr. Prashant Bhushan filed a detailed affidavit running into 134 pages, along with the Annexures of 463 pages.
As far as the first tweet, Mr. Bhushan claimed that it was made primarily to underline his anguish at the non-physical functioning of the Supreme Court for the last more than three months, as a result of which fundamental rights of citizens, such as those in detention, those destitute and poor, were not being addressed or taken up for redressal.
As far as the second tweet dated was concerned, Mr. Bhushan said that the tweet has three distinct elements, each of which is his bona fide opinion.
The first part of the tweet contains his considered opinion, that democracy has been substantially destroyed in India during the last six years.
The second part is his opinion that the Supreme Court has played a substantial role in allowing the destruction of democracy and the
third part is his opinion regarding the role of the last 4 Chief Justices in particular in allowing it.
He further stated that the essence of a democracy is that all institutions, including the judiciary, function for the citizens and people are free to discuss the state of affairs of an institution and build public opinion in order to reform the institution.
It was further contended by Mr. Bhushan, that the Chief Justice is not the Supreme Court and that raising issues of concern regarding the manner in which a CJI conducts himself during court vacations, or raising issues of grave concern regarding the manner in which four CJIs have used, or failed to use, their powers as “Master of the Roster" cannot be equated with a Chief Justice, or even a succession of four CJIs.” 8
The alleged contemner No.2, Twitter Inc. filed an affidavit-in-reply ans stated that it is a global website providing micro-blogging platform for self-expression of its users and to communicate.
It is further stated that it has not authored or published the tweets in question, further it is merely an ‘intermediary’ within the meaning as provided under the Information Technology Act, 2000 and thus is not the author or originator of the tweets posted on its platform.
Thus, it lacks any editorial control on the tweets and merely acts as a display board.
Also, under section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, it has been provided safe harbour as an intermediary for any objectionable posts on its platform posted by its users.
It lastly submitted that as soon as cognizance of tweets were taken it blocked the access to the said tweets and disabled the same.9
SUO MOTO JURISDICTION IN CONTEMPT CASE
The point raised by the Bhushan (contemner No.1) was, the Court could not have initiated a Suo motu proceedings and could have proceeded on the petition filed by Mr. Mahek Maheshwari only after the consent was obtained from the Attorney General for India.
The Court while relying on Re: Vijay Kurle & Ors. (2020 SCC Online SC 407 (Suo Motu Contempt Petition (Criminal) No.2 of 2019) held, contempt of the Supreme Court in the light of Articles 129 and 142 of the Constitution of India must be read in conjunction with the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
It further stated, the only requirement is that the procedure followed is just and fair and in accordance with the principles of natural justice.
Also, in Sukhdev Singh Sodhi v. The Chief Justice and Judges of the Pepsu High Court 1960, it was held therefore that the Code of Criminal Procedure does not apply in matters of contempt triable by the High Court. The High Court can deal with it summarily and adopt its own procedure. All that is necessary is that the procedure is fair and that the contemnor is made aware of the charge against him and given a fair and reasonable opportunity to defend himself.
The Court thus held that the procedure was prescribed in the judgment of P.N. Duda versus P. Shiv Shankar (1988) 3 SCC 167 has to be followed.
Thus, in cases of Suo moto petitions, there is no requirement for taking consent of anybody, including the learned Attorney General because the Court is exercising its inherent powers to issue notice for contempt.
HOW SCANDALISING OF COURT OCCURS?
As Professor Goodhart has put it [ See Newspapers on Contempt of Court, (1935) 48 Harv LR 885, 898]:
“Scandalising the court means any hostile criticism of the Judge as Judge; any personal attack upon him, unconnected with the office he holds, is dealt with under the ordinary rules of slander and libel”
In Brahma Prakash Sharma (supra), the Court held that there are innumerable ways by which attempts can be made to hinder or obstruct the due administration of justice in courts.
The Court held that a publication which attacks on individual judges or the court as a whole with or without reference to a particular case, casting unwarranted and defamatory aspersions upon the character or ability of the judges, would come within the term of scandalizing the Court.
A conduct in Court’s opinion which tends to create distrust in the popular mind and impair the confidence of the people in the courts is contempt.
It has also been held that it is not necessary to prove affirmatively that there has been an actual interference with the administration of justice by reason of such a defamatory statement and it is enough if it is likely, or tends in any way, to interfere with the proper administration of justice.10
The Court in P.N. Duda vs. P. Shiv Shanker & Others11 held that the judgments can be criticised; the motives of the judges need not be attributed; it brings the administration of justice into deep disrepute.
A verificatory criticism of a Judge functioning as a Judge even in purely administrative or non- adjudicatory matters amounts to ‘criminal contempt’12.
In the case of Pritam Pal vs. High Court of Madhya Pradesh, Jabalpur through Registrar13, the Court held that the welfare of the people is the supreme law and this can be achieved only when justice is administered lawfully, judicially, without fear or favour and without being hampered and thwarted and this cannot be effective unless respect for it is fostered and maintained.
In Dr. D.C. Saxena vs. Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India14, the Court held
• “...It would, therefore, be scandalising the judge as a judge, in other words, imputing partiality, corruption, bias, improper motives to a judge is scandalisation of the court and would be contempt of the court…”
Doctrine of Apology
In the case of In re Hira Lal Dixit and two others15, the Constitution Bench
while holding the contemner guilty and rejecting his qualified apology, observed that a qualified apology contained in his affidavit and repeated by him through his counsel cannot be taken as sufficient amends for his misconduct.
In the case of C. K. Daphtary & Ors. vs. O. P. Gupta & Ors.16, scurrilous aspersions were made against the judges of this Court. The Court held, scurrilous attack on a judge in respect of a judgment or past conduct has an adverse effect on the due administration of justice.
In the said case, after holding the contemnor O.P. Gupta guilty for contempt, the Court refused to accept the apology tendered by him finding that the apology coupled with fresh abuses can hardly be taken note of. However, taking a lenient view, this Court sentenced him to suffer simple imprisonment for two months.17
In Baradakanta Mishra, it is held that the question which the Court has to ask in a contempt by scandalising the Court, is whether the vilification is of the Judge as a judge. (See Queen v. Gray), [(1900) 2 QB 36, 40] or it is the vilification of the Judge as an individual.
If the former, the Court will proceed to exercise the jurisdiction with scrupulous care and in cases which are clear and beyond reasonable doubt.
Secondly, the Court will also have to consider the degree of harm caused as affecting administration of justice and, if it is slight and beneath notice, Courts will not punish for contempt. This salutary practice is adopted by Section 13 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. The jurisdiction is not intended to uphold the personal dignity of the Judges.
ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
In Baradakanta Mishra vs The Registrar of Orissa High Court & another18 the Court observed that in the minds of the people, administration of justice is exclusively associated with the Courts of justice constitutionally established.
The Presiding Judge of a Court embodies in himself the Court, and when engaged in the task of administering justice is assisted by a complement of clerks and ministerial officers whose duty it is to protect and maintain the records, prepare the writs, serve the processes etc.
The Court therefore held that the whole set up of a court is for the purpose of administration of justice, and the control which the Judge exercises over his assistants has also the object of maintaining the purity of administration of justice. These observations apply to all courts of justice in the land whether they are regarded as superior or inferior courts of justice.
Limits for Media
In re Re: S. Mulgaokar19, while making a happy balance between the criticism of Judiciary by the Fourth Estate and the Contempt of judiciary, Krishna Iyer, J. held, where freedom of expression, fairly exercised, subserves public interest in reasonable measure, public justice cannot gag it or manacle it, constitutionally speaking A free people are the ultimate guarantors of fearless justice. there is no conceptual polarity but a delicate balance, and judicial “sapience” draws the line.
“All laws relating to contempt of court had, according to the provisions of Article 19(2), to be “reasonable restrictions” on the exercise of the right of free speech. The courts were given the power—and, indeed, the responsibility— to harmonise conflicting aims, interests and values. This is in sharp contrast to the Phillimore Committee Report on Contempt of Court in the United Kingdom [ (1974) bund. S. 794. paras 143- 5, pp. 61-2] which did not recommend the defence of public interest in contempt cases. "
The Court further held:
“31. The fourth functional canon which channels discretionary exercise of the contempt power is that the fourth estate which is an indispensable intermediary between the State and the people and necessary instrumentality in strengthening the forces of democracy, should be given free play within responsible limits even when the focus of its critical attention is the court, including the highest Court.”
An argument raised by Bhushan’s lawyer was, Court should consider the various statements made by some of the retired judges, journalists and others favouring Bhushan.
The Court raised two questions in this regard namely,
• whether the Court should be moved by the statement published in the newspaper,
• whether in a sub judice matters, such statements are permissible to be made.
The Court clarified that it cannot abdicate its duty and to be uninfluenced by the statements published in various articles published in media and opinions therein.
In Attorney General v. Times Newspaper Ltd.,20 it was held that If comment and criticism of the nature dealt with in these proceedings were permitted while an appeal is pending, prejudice would undoubtedly be likely to be created, and in any event the court could be seriously embarrassed.
Also, substantial risk of serious prejudice through an effect upon the mind of an appellate judge by such publication. It was emphasized that an act of making comments which are intended or even likely to influence a judge necessarily amounts to contempt.
In R.K. Anand v. Registrar, Delhi High Court, the Court considered the concept of trial by media and held, it would be violative of media’s right of speech and expression under Article 19 (1)(a) and would amount to pre- censorship, if a permission or consent of the court is required prior to publishing of report of a sting operation, in case a trial is pending. But this does not mean that the media may publish any report pending trial before a court. Any action in breach of the legal bounds would invite consequences and invite more serious punishment.
In State of Maharashtra v. Rajendra Jawanmal Gandhi21, Court held that a trial by press, electronic media or public agitation is the very antithesis of rule of law. It can well lead to miscarriage of justice.
In Santosh Kumar Satishbhushan Bariyar v. State of Maharashtra22, Court while considering the question of public opinion in capital sentencing, observed, public opinion is difficult to fit in the rarest of rare matrix. It may also run counter to the rule of law and constitutionalism.
In Reliance Petrochemicals Ltd. v. Proprietors of Indian Express NewsPapers Bombay Pvt. Ltd., and others24, it was observed that process of due course of administration of justice must remain unimpaired and the effect of the judicial decision should not be pre-empted or circumvented by public agitation or publications.
The Court thus observed that Mr. Bhushan’s made statements which were published well in advance in extenso, in the newspaper and media in a matter which is sub judice and thus amounts to an act of impropriety and has the effect of interfering with the judicial process and the fair decision making.
COURT’S STAND ON TWITTER
The Court discharged the contemner No.2. (Twitter Inc.) and accepted its explanation, that it is only an intermediary and does not have any control on what the users post on the platform. Also, that it acted bona fides by suspending both the tweets immediately after the Court took cognizance.
COURT’S FIRM STAND- Prashant Bhushan held guilty
The analysis of the tweets was done in light of two Judgements of the God of Law, J. Krishna Iyer.
The observation made by Krishna Iyer, J, in the case of Baradakanta Mishra (supra), if a constructive criticism is made in order to enable systemic correction in the system, the Court would not invoke the contempt jurisdiction.
However, as observed by the same learned judge in Re: S. Mulgaokar, the Court will act with seriousness and severity where justice is jeo-pardized by a gross and/or unfounded attack on the judges and where the attack is calculated to obstruct or destroy the judicial process.
If the Court considers the attack on the Judge or Judges to be scurrilous, offensive, intimidatory or malicious beyond condonable limits, the strong arm of the law must, in the name of public interest and public justice, strike a blow on him, who challenges the supremacy of the rule of law by fouling its source and stream.
The Court while dealing with the first tweet observed that:
• “...Undisputedly, the said part of the statement criticizes the CJI in his capacity as the Chief Justice of India i.e. the Administrative Head of the judiciary of the country... "
The said tweet in Court’s view is capable of giving an impression to a layman, that the CJI is enjoying his ride on a motorbike worth Rs.50 lakh belonging to a BJP leader, at a time when he has kept the Supreme Court in lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access justice.
The Court noted that the date on which the CJI is alleged to have taken a ride on a motorbike is during the period when the Supreme Court was on a summer vacation. Also, the Court was regularly functioning during such a period.
The Court further clarified that due to COVID-19 pandemic the physical functioning of the Court was required to be suspended in order to avoid mass gathering, but the functioning through video conferencing were still on and further 879 sitting happened from 23.3.2020 till 4.8.2020. The Court further mentioned that 12748 matters were heard during this period.
Thus, the Court considered the allegations about the first tweet as undoubtedly false, malicious and scandalous. Also, the allegations in Court's view held the tendency to shake the confidence of the public at large in the institution of judiciary and the institution of the CJI and undermining the dignity and authority of the administration of justice.
As far as the second tweet is concerned, the Court acknowledged that the publication by tweet reaches millions of people and as such, such a huge extent of publication would also be one of the factors that requires to be taken into consideration while considering the question of good faith while publishing the tweets.
The Court judged that the allegations by Mr. Bhushan in the second tweet are scurrilous and malicious in nature and have the tendency to scandalize the Court and cannot be said to be a fair criticism in the public interest.
The Court held that it was an attempt to shake the very foundation of constitutional democracy and has to be dealt with an iron hand.
TRUTH BY ITSELF IS “NO” DEFENCE
The Court while mentioning the reply affidavit by Mr. Bhushan, analysed that, defence of truth was not examined in the convicting judgement and must be examined in light of Section 13 (b) of the Amended Act of 1971.
Section 13 of the Amended Act of 1971, as amended in 2006, which reads thus:
"13. Contempts not punishable in certain cases – Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force –
(a) no court shall impose a sentence under this Act for a contempt of court unless it is satisfied that the contempt is of such a nature that it substantially interferes, or tends substantially to interfere with the due course of justice;
(b) the court may permit, in any proceeding for contempt of court, justification by truth as a valid defence if it is satisfied that it is in public interest and the request for invoking the said defence is bona fide.”
“The Court observed that Section 13 of the Act enables the Court to permit justification by truth as a valid defence in any contempt proceedings if it is satisfied that such a defence is in the public interest and the request for invoking the defence is bona fide.” 26
Voice of “Silent Lordships”
The Court while dealing with the fact that Mr. Bhushan has criticised retired and sitting judges with serious charges held
“... (8) A Judge shall not enter into a public debate or express his views in public on political matters or on matters that are pending or are likely to arise for judicial determination.
(9) A Judge is expected to let his judgment speak for themselves. He shall not give an interview to the media.”
"Restatement of Values of Judicial Life’ adopted in the Chief Justices’ Conference,at New Delhi on September 1819, 1992"
The Court thus iterated that retired Judges do have the prestige that they have earned by dint of hard work and dedication and are also not supposed to be answering each and every allegation.
Thus, this Court will become the voice of the silent judges.
NOT TO “Wash your dirty linen in public”
The Court while acknowledging the fact that there is a sacred relationship between the bench and the bar held, where the Bar honestly doubts the conduct of the Judge/Chief Justice and such doubt is based on authentic and acceptable material, the proper course for officer bearers of the Bar Association would be to meet the Judge in camera and apprise him or approach the Chief Justice of that High Court to deal with the matter appropriately.
When the allegation is against the Chief Justice of the High Court, the Bar Association should directly approach the Chief Justice of India. Thereafter, the Chief Justice has to make a decision. Until such a decision is taken, the Bar should suspend all further action and await response for a reasonable period.
शुद्धिकरण / Purging
The Court iterated the process of purging by any individual who commits a contempt and held, purging is a process by which an undesirable element is expelled either from one’s own self or from a society. It is a cleaning process. In the case of a guilt, purging means to get himself cleared of the guilt.
In Pravin C. Shah v. K.A. Mohd Ali and Another28, The Bar Council took the view that the purging of contempt can be only by regretting or apologising in the case of criminal contempt and in civil contempt, by subsequent compliance with the order or directions the contempt can be purged.
HOW TO PURGE IN CIVIL CASES
In Pravin C. Shah (supra) Court observed thus:
"26. Obeying the orders of the court would be a mode by which one can make the purging process in a substantial manner when it is a civil contempt. Even for such a civil contempt the purging process would not be treated as completed merely by the contemner undergoing the penalty imposed on him unless he has obeyed the order of the court or he has undone the wrong. "
Thus, in civil cases purging can be done by complying with the orders of the Court or by undoing the wrong.
HOW TO PURGE IN CRIMINAL CASES
Position regarding criminal contempt must be stronger in comparison to civil cases (Pravin C. Shah (supra).
In Re Prashant Bhushan And Anr - Judgement on Quantum of Punishment, Court observed:
“In the case of a sentence of fine, the contemner can pay the fine and continue to persist with contemptuous conduct again and again. Something more is required to purge the criminal contempt. Even a statement of apology is not enough to purge the contempt. The Court has to be satisfied as to the genuineness of the apology to make an order that contemner has purged himself of the contempt.”
In Mulk Raj v. State of Punjab29, Court observed thus:
“9. Apology is an act of contrition. Unless apology is offered at the earliest opportunity and in good grace apology is shorn of penitence. If apology is offered at a time when the contemner finds that the court is going to impose punishment it ceases to be an apology and it becomes an act of a cringing coward.”
Thus, purging in criminal contempt can be done by satisfying the Court by apologising, but sometimes a harsher punishment can be imposed, so as to stop the repetition of the contempt.
The Advocate before the contempt is purged could suffer the consequences of Rule 11 of the Rules which postulates that in case the advocate has been found guilty of contempt of court, his authority to act or plead in any court stands snapped.
NO CONCEPT OF NEGATIVE EQUALITY
While regretting for the past act of going to press in 2018 and hoping that God would give wisdom to Judiciary to protect its dignity by internal mechanism, Court observed that Mr. Bhushan cannot take the plea to justify the averment on the basis of that Press Conference held by the Judges, where four senior most Judges accused the then CJI of allotting matters to preferred benched and held that there is no concept of negative equality.
QUANTUM OF PUNISHMENT
The factors relevant for sentencing are the offender, the offence, the convicting judgment, statutory or other defences relating to a substantial interference with justice, truth, bona fides, and public interest in disclosure.
The Court acknowledged that Mr. Bhushan is a lawyer of 35 years of standing, who has pursued public interest litigation successfully at some personal and professional cost.
Also, he brought certain corruption cases and causes to the Court such as V. Ramaswamy case, Coal Mining case, Goa Mining case, Orissa Mining case, etc.
Considerations while determining quantum of punishment:
(i) Offence must be clear without ambiguity.
(ii) The potential offender must know/understand whether he/she is guilty of the offence.
The Apex Court acknowledged that the offence is “notoriously vague.” The fact that the offence is undefined by the Statute i.e. Contempt of Court Act,1 971, and therefore must be used sparingly with due care and caution.
The Court while observing Mr. Bhushan as egoistic and adamant viewed that, it is open to them to debar him from practicing in a Court.
The Court imposed on Mr. Bhushan a nominal fine of Re. 1/ (Rupee one) to be deposited with the Registry of this Court by 15.09.2020, failing which he shall undergo a simple imprisonment for a period of three months and further be debarred from practising in this Court for a period of three years.
It is apparent from this long discussion that the future of Free Press and of Fair Justice desiderates a juristic socio-political national debate, not ex-cathedra admonitions from the Bench or assertions from the Bar.
A balance is therefore to be struck of free speech and free justice in tune with the Preamble and Article 19 (1). Scurrilous attacks on judges or on parties to pending cases foul the course of justice. Mischievous half-truths, brazen untruths and virulent publicity by partisan media, political organs and spokesmen for vested interests can be traumatic to the cause of social justice.
John R. Brown, the then Chief Judge of US Supreme Court held, for our history demands that breaches of the unqualified commands of the First Amendment cannot be tolerated and freedom of the press must be given the broadest scope that a liberty-loving people can allow.
The Courts are not of the view that an action for contempt of Court, which is discretionary, should be frequently or lightly taken, but must be used to protect the public whose interests would be very much affected if by the act or conduct of any party, the authority of the court is lowered and the sense of confidence which people have in the administration of justice by it is weakened.
7.1953 SCR 1169
8.In re: Prashant Bhushan & Anr, para 4,5- (Convicting Judgement.)
9. In re: Prashant Bhushan & Anr, para 6- (Convicting Judgement)
10. In re: Prashant Bhushan & Anr, para 22 - (Convicting Judgement)
11.(1988) 3 SCC 167
12. In re: Prashant Bhushan & Anr, para 34- (Convicting Judgement)
13.1993 Supp (1) SCC 529
14.(1996) 5 SCC 216
15.(1955) 1 SCR 67
16. (1971) 1 SCC 626
17. In re: Prashant Bhushan & Anr, para 27- (Convicting Judgement)
18.(1974) 1 SCC 374
19. (1978) 3 SCC 339
20. (1973) 3 All ER 54
21. (2009) 8 SCC 106
22. (1997) 8 SCC 386
23. (1997) 8 SCC 386
24. (1988) 4 SCC 592.
25.In Re: Prashant Bhushan and Anr, para 5- Judgement on Quantum of Punishment.
26.IN RE: PRASHANT BHUSHAN AND ANR, para 2 (viii) - Judgement on Quantum of Punishment.
27.(1995) 5 SCC 457
28.(2001) 8 SCC 650
29.[(1972) 3 SCC 839],
30.(2019) 16 SCC 407)
31. In re [Mohit Chaudhary, In re, (2017) 16 SCC 78]
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