Karnataka High Court issues notice to Centre on plea challenging Contempt of Courts Act

The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Central authorities in response to a PIL challenging the constitutional validity of Section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.

The petition was filed by senior journalists N Ram, Krishna Prasad, former Union minister Arun Shourie and senior advocate Prashant Bhushan.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum handed the order on the petition and posted the case for additional listening to in February 2021.

The petitioners mentioned that as journalists, social activists and opinion makers, they’re involved about Section 2(c)(i) of the Act and the chilling impact on the liberty of speech.

The petitioners additionally contended that the part is violative of Articles 19 and 14 of the Constitution. The petitioners mentioned that all of them had a tryst with contempt proceedings, particularly below Section 2(c)(i).

The petition contended that the Section violates the suitable to free speech and expression below Article 19(1)(a) and doesn’t quantity to an inexpensive restriction below Article 19(2).

“The impugned sub-section violates the right to free speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) and does not amount to a reasonable restriction under Article 19(2). The impugned sub-section creates a chilling effect on free speech and expression”, the plea said.

“The offence of ‘scandalising the court’ is rooted in colonial assumptions and objects, which have no place in legal orders committed to democratic constitutionalism and the maintenance of an open robust public sphere,” the petition mentioned. The petitioners said that pointers and guidelines should be framed with reference to Section 2(c) of the Act as an entire.

Apart from searching for path to declare Section 2(c)(i) of the Act as violative of the Constitution, the petition has prayed for the framing of guidelines and pointers that outline the method for the superior courts to comply with whereas taking felony contempt motion, holding in thoughts rules of pure justice and equity.

In August 2020, Ram, Shourie and Bhushan had approached the Supreme Court challenging the very Section however the Supreme Court disposed of the petition with a liberty, as sought by the petitioners, to strategy the High Court.


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