Contempt Of Court

Every criticism is not contempt of Court

In the words of Lord Atkin-“Justice is not a cloistered virtue.” Any and every criticism is not contempt. One of the tests is, to use the words of Mukherjea, J. in Brahma Prakash Sharma and Others Vs. The State of Uttar Pradesh, whether the criticism is calculated to interfere with the due course of justice or proper administration of law; whether it tends to create distrust in the popular mind and impair confidence of people in the Courts of law. These tests have been part of the meaning of the expression contempt of Court from before the Constitution and are still a part of its meaning-a meaning which the framers of the Constitution must have known when they used the expression. We are giving no wider connotation to it, and it is idle to contend that such a connotation imports any unreasonable restriction on freedom of speech and expression.

We agree with the observations of the learned Judge.

59. In Lakhan Singh v. Balbir Singh ILR [1953] All. 796 it was held that “the law of contempt as laid down by British and Indian Courts imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right of freedom of speech and expression and the previous law continues in force even after the amended Article 19(2) of the Constitution.” It was further stated that “conditions in India are different from those prevailing in America. The language of our Constitution after the amendment of Article 19 requires us to see whether the restrictions are “reasonable”.” It is true that this case was dealing with a publication which prejudiced mankind against a party before the case was heard, but the general observations are relevant for the purpose of this case.

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