5th June 2018
India’s Contempt of Courts Act – should a scandalous judge be protected from public comment?
Someone shared this news of a lawyer getting jailed for making a comment about a judge on a Facebook post.
WIKIPEDIA says, re: India:
Under Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971, criminal contempt has been defined as the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which:
- Scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court, or
- Prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with the due course of any judicial proceeding, or
- Interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.
There is no doubt that the judiciary in a country must be respected. However, that means the judiciary must behave properly and not be corrupt.
In India this condition is not met.
Further, it is important the the judiciary be respected as a whole but the question arises: should the behaviour of a specific judge be exempt from scrutiny?
I believe if the behaviour of a judge is scandalous, then the public MUST have the right to say so. In fact, the law does not distinguish between “good” comment (i.e. truthful comment) and false comment. Even the defamation law (which I oppose on various grounds) makes such a distinction. At the least, truth must be a defence.