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Contempt of Court and Freedom of Speech A Dispute of Rights and Dignity

Student, School of Law, Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalay, Indore

The paper aims to present a comparative analysis between two foremost yet contradicting provisions prevailing in the country. On one hand, freedom of speech and expression is the basic human and fundamental right, while, on the other hand, contempt of court is the weapon used against the former right. The perfect irony is that the Constitution of India guarantees fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression vide Article 19, however it is noteworthy that the very same constitution snatches it away using the power to punish for the contempt under Article 129 and Article 215. The Right under Article 19 is to promote plurality of opinions but this right particularly when juxtaposed with Contempt becomes a controversial issue. There are a very few democracies that still provide contempt power to courts and India is one such nation. But it must be kept in mind that it is not the Judiciary which is sovereign but the Constitution that provides the institution with such powers and is hence, supreme. If courts start acting intolerant towards the critical reviews, it would mark the end of democracy. The dignity of judges is not so brittle that it would shatter with some opinions instead of getting motivated to work upon what is right. The paper aims to draw a comparative analysis amongst both the rights and their importance in democracy. The aim is not to sideline the provision of contempt but to realize the need to restrict it to protect the dignity of courts and not the caretakers. Judges deserve respect but not at the cost of threatening the critics, suppressing them and misusing their powers in the disguise of contempt. No right can be jeopardized to protect the pride and self obsession of judges.

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