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Shourie, Bhushan move SC, challenge validity of law on criminal contempt

PTI

New Delhi

Former union minister Arun Shourie, veteran journalist N Ram and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan have moved the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of a legal provision dealing with criminal contempt for “scandalising the court”, saying it was violative of freedom of speech and right to equality.

The petition, which may come up for hearing next week, challenged the validity of Section 2(1)(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 as being unconstitutional and incompatible to the basic feature of the Constitution and is vague and manifestly
“arbitrary”.

The provision defines what constituted criminal contempt and said that if by way of publication of words, the dignity of the courts is lowered and if they scandalize the courts then the offence of contempt of court is deemed to have been
committed.

“The impugned sub-section is unconstitutional as it is incompatible with preambular values and basic features of the Constitution. It violates Article 19(1)(a) (freedom of speech and expression), is unconstitutional and incurably vague…,” said the plea filed through lawyer Kamini Jaiswal.

The filing of the plea challenging the validity of the provision assumes significance in view of the fact that a three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra on July 22 had issued a show cause notice to Bhushan after taking note of a petition urging it to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against him for his alleged tweets against the judiciary. This case is listed for hearing on August 5.

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