Bengaluru: The Ministry of Law and Justice was, on Tuesday, issued a notice by the Karnataka High Court in connection with a PIL questioning the constitutional validity of Section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, and the effect it has on the freedom of speech.
The peition filed by senior journalists Krishna Prasad, N Ram, and Arun Shourie and senior advocate Prashant Bhushan questions the validity of the aforementioned section that makes “scandalising or tends to scandalising courts” as a ground for contempt.
During the hearing held by a division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum, the petitioners argued that the sub-section is unconstitutional stating that it is not compatible with the values and basic features listed in the Preamble.
Arguing that the sub-section violates Article 19(1)(a), the petitioners added that it is also unconstitutionally and incurably vague and is manifestly arbitrary.
It can be recalled that Ram, Shourie, and Bhushan had filed a similar petition before the Supreme Court. They were permitted to withdraw the petition and were given the liberty to move a High Court in the matter.
According to a report by The Hindu, in their plea, the petitioners contended, “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.”
“As journalists, social activists and opinion-makers, the petitioners are concerned about Section Section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Court’s Act, 1971, in particular, the chilling effect on the freedom of speech that it has”, they added.