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Babita Rawat, pursuing BA LL.B. (Hons.) from Asian Law College

Date: 18.11.2020


What does freedom of speech mean especially in a distinct nation like India?


Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India explains that all residents possess the right to freedom of speech and expression. This implies the right to communicate one’s own confidences and beliefs voluntarily either verbally or by jotting down, printing, resemblances, or any different procedure. Nonetheless, in numerous circumstances, it is experimental that freedom of speech and expression is infinite. Species anticipate it to prevail their right to be eligible to let out and speculate anything. Fortunately or unfortunately, that breathes not the outbreak. Vastly like the extra fundamental rights enshrined under Part III of the Constitution of India, the right to freedom of speech and expression is liable to particular acceptable constraints.


Restrictions that might plop on the right to freedom of speech & expression are the attention of the autonomy, quality, and protection of India, peaceful associations with exotic nations, civil injunction, appropriateness or integrity, or in association to contempt of court, calumny, or stimulus of the violation. Denizens of India are at liberty to drill their essential right to freedom of speech and expression content to the above-mentioned constraints. Article 19(1) (a) of the Indian Constitution ensures the right to freedom of speech and expression to every inhabitant of our government.[1] Each resident possesses the right to voluntarily affirm his insinuations and confidences.


Freedom of speech and expression moreover encompasses the right to chastise any organization. Every administration is accountable to civil attention wherein the widespread abundance sincerely and willingly denounces the accomplishment and doings of the administration. It is to be remarked that the right to freedom of speech and expression constitutes freedom of the press within its ambit, though not expressly.


Role of Media


Press has a very crucial function to publish and circulate all the applicable knowledge which is mandatory for the comprehensive abundance to recognize. Press also takes advantage of a part to illustrate the impression of the detailed quantity to the improved permissions, encompassing judgments of extreme sovereignty. Around mighty critique, the answerability of such hegemonies boosts.


Contempt of Court


Contempt of court is an offense of disobedience or hurt the feelings of a court of the statute and its officials in the structure of code that obstructs or questions the administration, magistrate, and satisfaction of the judiciary. Contempt of Court is a constitutional authority awarded with the Supreme Court of India.

Article 129 of the Indian Constitution of India states “The Supreme Court of India shall be a court of record and shall have all the powers of such a court including the power to penalize for contempt of itself”

In Brahma Prakash Sharma v State of Uttar Pradesh[2], the Supreme Court remembered clasped that in decree to make up the violation of Contempt of Court, it occurred not crucial to precisely substantiate that a considerable interference with the government of magistrate remembers lived perpetrated. The Court clenched that it existed sufficiently if a libellous announcement is possible or in any direction verges to impede the reasonable government of magistrate.

In the case of Baradakanta Mishra vs the Registrar of Orissa High Court[3] The court brandished that a familiar configuration of extremely contempt occurs the calumniation of the magistrate. The Court has to inquire of whether the dispersion is of the Judge as a judge, or it is the denigration of the Judge as a soul. If the later the Judge is evacuated to his confidential prescriptions and the Court has no energy to devote for animosity. If it is the abandoned, the Court will continue with scrupulous supervision in prosecutions that are obvious and beyond an acceptable distrust.   


Legal Aspect

For the concept of Contempt of Court, the Contempt of Court Act, 1971 was ratified which dealt with seriously a notion. Article 129 and 215 of the Constitution of India authorize the Supreme Court and High Court respectively to penalize the nation for their respective animosity. Section 10 of The Contempt of Courts Act of 1971 discerns the energy of the High Court to retaliate contempt’s of its associate courts. Courage to chastise for contempt of court under Articles 129 and 215 is not prone to Article 19(1) (a).  



It is to stand discerned that independent and apparent objection improves the responsibility of the tribunal towards people. It is widely substantiated that in any representative civilization culture is ultimate. There is no guilty to index tribe as the champion in a self-ruling configuration where all supplementary permissions like parliament, bench, administrator, etc. are the attendant of the master. Judgment encourages the administrations to recognize where they are requiring in accomplishing their obligations and such a complaint act as a stimulus for the adequate procedure of the nation.

But, unfortunately, people do not perceive that vastly unrestricted to denounce any court because of the suspicion of giving accused with contempt of court under The Contempt of Court Act, 1971. This act bestows overwhelming leverage to a judiciary of the constitution to penalize any extreme act which manages to depreciate the parliament of the judiciary. They remember the privilege to castigate any objection no issue how effective it could be for the tribunal for enhancing its working.

The freedom of expression ensured under the legislation and the sovereignty of the bench are the two fundamental and extensively crucial constituents of a democracy. Beneficial criticism is a greatly vital component for the advancement of democracy and the Supreme Court should maintain unrestricted sermon.

But Where To Bring Out The Cord?

When the objection possesses the propensity of lowering down the administration of the judge and straight obstructs the administration of justice, the Court has the capacity to penalize any extreme act which inclines to demean the significance of the judiciary under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 (“Act“).

Section 5 of the act acknowledges that decent criticism is not to subsist termed as contempt of court. Still, the mockery of the circumstance is accentuated when it is the judiciary against whom the observation has lived given rise to, receives the courage to agree whether the equivalent existed beneficial in essence or not.


The most current contempt of court lawsuit in India is the Prashant Bhushan contempt prosecution wherein the Hon’ble Supreme Court remembers instigated suo moto contempt proceedings against Advocate on Record (AOR), Shri Prashant Bhushan for his tweets against modern Chief Justice of India, Shri SA Bobde, his 2009 conference with Tehelka journal wherein he challenged the sincerity of a limited yore Chief Justices of India and some of his other contemporary tweets where he has interviewed the extended absence/limited functioning of the courts during the introductory days of the lockdown duration.

Nevertheless, when the contempt proceedings were inaugurated Mr. Bhushan was abrupt to relinquish his observations with respect to his tweet. He actually requested an apology for this tweet and illustrated that he implied no neglect to the department of the Chief Justice of India.

Yet, Mr. Bhushan vehemently declined to apologize for either for his Tehelka magazine interview which dates back to 2009, or for any of his other tweets. Mr. Bhushan retains in his acknowledgment of the contempt proceedings asserted that he understands what he implied no rudeness to the departments of the Hon’ble Judges in the conference and the tweets. He stood barely offering beneficial judgment and that submitting an apology whether dependent or unqualified would not be straightforward.

The suo moto contempt proceedings against Prashant Bhushan were inaugurated on 21st July 2020 and on 14th August 2020, a constitutional judiciary establishes Mr. Bhushan criminal of the violation of animosity of the judiciary and the circumstance is restful sub-judice with concern to the quantum of penalty which is outstanding to be declared deceased this month. This looks like to be the timeliest the Hon’ble Supreme Court remembers disposed of an issue on excellence in current junctures. The clam can merely desire this status of efficiency continues for additional consequences as adequately.

The contempt power is desired to penalize wilful insubordination to court decrees (civil contempt), as generously as interference in the government of magistrate and overt warnings to arbitrators.

The justification of why the intuition of contempt exists lives to separate the organization from unnecessary objection and stave off a tumble in the bench’s prestige in the public gaze.


The Law Commission of India clenched that there is a necessity to conserve the requirement respecting the contempt of courts. Nevertheless, it moreover proposed the description of contempt in the Contempt of Court Act should be constrained to municipal animosity, i.e., intentional non-compliance of appraisals of the judiciary.

Further, in the epoch of social media, besides the shortage to re-examine the legislation on unlawful contempt, straight the experiment for contempt necessities to be analyzed.


[1] Article 19(1)(a) of The Indian Constitution


[2] 1954 AIR 10, 1954 SCR 1169

[3] 1974 AIR 710, 1974 SCR (2) 282

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