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Thread: Contempt for the pen

  1. Contempt for the pen

    A write-up by Arvind Kejriwal

    Recently, an individual invoked the Right to Information Act to demand from the Supreme Court a list of all the complaints received against various high court judges in the last two years. The apex court said that such information was not within its custody.

    When further asked in whose custody it was, the SC said that it was not within its jurisdiction to answer this. Interestingly, journalists in the know of this development steered clear of it in the light of the Delhi high court ruling against Mid Day .

    Delhi high court suo motu initiated contempt proceedings against Mid Day journalists for publishing a story questioning the acts of former chief justice of India (CJI) Y K Sabharwal. The message to the media was loud and clear — you dare not write anything against the courts.

    Courts command the respect of the people. However, there have been a series of reports in recent times questioning the integrity of judges — Justice Shamit Mukherjee, Justice Jagdish Bhalla and now Justice Sabharwal.

    It has shaken the faith of ordinary people. The judiciary must recover its lost ground. Politicians and bureaucrats are a discredited lot; the judiciary should not go the same way. A credible, independent inquiry should look into the allegations concerning Justice Sabharwal, if only to uphold the dignity of the office of the CJI.

    If the inquiry concludes that Mid Day journalists were wrong, they could be proceeded against. But by gagging the media, the Delhi high court is only lending credence to the allegations against Justice Sabharwal.

    The Delhi high court in its judgment against Mid Day journalists said that they were guilty of lowering the dignity of Supreme Court in the eyes of the public. If the voice of the media were to be gagged, the dignity of the Supreme Court would be lowered for ever.

    Exposure of corruption in any institution might seem to lower it in the eyes of the people but in the long run strengthens the institution by allowing it to take corrective action. Suppressing exposure increases suspicion and indeed the people's 'contempt' for such institutions. Complete transparency and honest efforts to bring truth out in the public domain enhance the dignity of individuals and institutions.

    I am surprised at the manner in which the Delhi high court is prosecuting these journalists. Representatives of Campaign for Judicial Accountability (CFJA) held a press conference and released more damaging facts against Justice Sabharwal than what appeared in Mid Day .

    Subsequently, Justice J S Verma and Justice V R Krishna Iyer called for an independent enquiry. Aren't these individuals as guilty of 'contempt of court' as the Mid Day journalists? Why does the Delhi high court not proceed against them?

    The judiciary lacks accountability. One needs the CJI's permission to file an FIR against a judge, which effectively rules out an FIR. One cannot publicly discuss the conduct of judges for fear of contempt. No agency has the powers to enquire into charges against them. Of late, the judiciary has expressed its desire to be kept out of RTI.

    Contempt powers of the court should be subject to scrutiny. We have a right to hold the courts accountable. If there is a prima facie case of wrongdoing against any judge, it ought to be inquired into through a fast and effective mechanism. It is time that we asserted our right to discuss the conduct of judges and courts, the way we discuss that of any other democratic institution. Only then would the dignity of the courts rise in the eyes of the people.

    Mid Day journalists deserve support for the right to tell a story. If an independent inquiry indeed concludes that the journalists are guilty of contempt, so be it.

    But their right to present a case based on prima facie verifiable facts should be beyond question in a democracy, in order to protect freedom of speech and expression.

    Contempt for the pen-Editorial-Opinion-The Times of India

  2. Re: Contempt for the pen

    I really specifically don't know what should not be told against the Hon'ble Judges.One of our active member pointed out that one Hon'ble Judge was accused for 'misappropriation or something like that , huge amount of money. But then no news was available in any news paper. What procedure should be followed for taking action against the irregularities of any judge ? Sachin and Sourabh ( others also) will be given 'out' with out any proper reason. but no body can do any thing against the "Umpires "

    Last edited by abhijeet; 18-09-07 at 05:53 PM. Reason: mistke in spelling

  3. Re: Contempt for the pen

    I would like to know about CFJA


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