Madras HC seeks contempt action against Tamil Actor
17 Sep, 2020
As remarkably quoted by Lord Atkin, “Justice is not a cloistered virtue”, Independence of Judiciary is ensured through criticism of the people.
With the rising number of corona cases each day, the most affected life is that remains of students, especially the ones waiting to write entrance examination. Amidst the hues and cries of sickness and economic mishap, the Central Government released the date for NEET examination. Aggrieved by such a dubious step of Government the Court was flooded with writs to direct the Centre to delay the Examination further. But all these efforts went futile as the Court disposed off the writs in favour of conducting the examination. In view of the students aspiring to appear for the entrance test Actor Surya tweeted,“Courts were delivering justice through video-conferencing due to life-threatening coronavirus fears (but) are ordering students to fearlessly go and write the exams.”
A day after the tweet Justice Subramanian wrote to Chief Justice A P Sahi to initialte a contempt proceeding against the Actor in the view that the statement of the Actor questions the integrity and devotion of the honorable judges and in turn blemishes the whole Judicial Machinery of the Country.
Recently the Court passed a judgment on Contempt against Mr. Prashant Bhusan, in the view that his tweets against the CJI which seemed to be arbitrary, malice and lower the integrity of the Supreme Court and Indian Judiciary as a whole. The contempt power of the curt has time and again been criticized to be used for fulfillment of their individual motive contrary to the freedom guaranteed under article 19 of the Constitution of India. The Court has affirmed that the constitution indeed ensures freedom to citizen but these freedoms come with reasonable restriction to secure the end of justice contempt of court is a reasonable restriction. In cases where the opinion of citizens lowers the confidence of people on justice delivery mechanism then justice and Constitution as a whole suffers. The purpose is not to prevent or restrict freedom but to ensure that the confidence of public is not lost which the people hold on the system. Here, lies the conflict as the ambit of meaning of “scandalizing the court” under the Contempt laws has not been defined and circumscribed. The ambit is already wide and has been time and again interpreted differently, further enlarging the meaning.
According to the Contempt of Court Act, Scandalizing Court means lowering the authority of the court by molding malice opinion in shadow of freedom to speech and expression, that interferes with administration of justice. In contrary, the Court in the case of Mr. Prashant Bhusan held , “it is not necessary to prove affirmatively that there has been actual interference with the administration of justice.” The Act protects innocent and constructive criticism made in good faith from contempt of court but the in such cases the Victim and The judge remains the Court, then who will assert good faith still remain in oblivion TheContempt laws in India is highly criticized to be arbitrary power of the Court in present time when the Common Law System including England, being the originator of the Contempt laws and other countries has done away with such laws.
As remarkably quoted by Lord Atkin, “Justice is not a cloistered virtue”, Independence of Judiciary is ensured through criticism of the people. The confidence of common man is lost with arbitrary and undefined restriction as they are not the pioneer of law but is further strengthened when transparency is maintained. The contempt charges on the Actor Surya are yet another case among others where a common man is at war with himself, trying to understand his limit of freedom.