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Differences And Overlapping Of Contempt Of Court And Freedom Of Speech And Expression

Judiciary has been blessed with the attorney of delivering punishments in case of any contempt and this practice has proved to be a vital weapon in resisting any form of interference with the administration of justice. Nonetheless, it gives rise to combats including in its ambit a fundamental right, freedom of speech and expression.

This combat needs to be settled in the frame of safeguarding the judicial administration with the lowest cost of freedom of speech and expression. Any action that expresses the lack of power and confidence in justice's administration or is intended towards interfering and corrupting the system needs to be prevented from coming into action. The Indian courts are generally following the English law of contempt and acknowledge a wider field.

The United States of America guarantees the freedom of speech via the First amendment and the Apex court covers the clear and present danger test to regulate the legality and validity of the restrictions that are imposed on freedom of speech and expression by the contempt of court laws.

High courts in India have also surrendered the view that the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Indian Constitution is in a much subordinate position than the power of the courts to grant punishment for any contempt committed thereof:
  1. The views have also expressed the idea, that the law that is authorized for veridiction of the punishment for contempt of court need not necessarily appease the test of 'reasonableness' that has been guaranteed under Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution
  2. This issue of contradiction between these two aspects was in light before the Supreme Court for the very first time through the Namboodiripad appeal case
  3. Chief Justice, Hidayatullah, detected that with the intention of the existence of freedom of speech and expression and the intention of exercising the same, contempt of court in any form should not be committed.

He recognized that freedom of speech and expression shall always exercise its existence except in the cases where the contempt is manifest, mischievous, or substantial. He also realized that the ambit and authority of the power of courts in granting punishments for contempt of court should be readjusted and defined concerning the test of reasonableness guaranteed under Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India.

Notwithstanding any law in England or other countries, the fundamental rights enshrined by the Constitution of India pursue that freedom of speech and expression should not be made submissive to the law of contempt of court in the country. In the light of this context, the dicta delivered by the Chief Justice that prevailing of Freedom of speech and expression shall only be except for the cases where contempt of court is of manifest and substantial nature has proved to be a certain improvement in comparison to the past previous decisions and verdicts held by the respective courts.

The newly revised extent of the power of courts to pronounce punishment for contempt of courts signifies that the courts ought to warrant constraints upon freedom of speech only when the conduct in question is intervening with the authorized administration of justice manifestly or substantially.

This, from nowhere conveys that the right guaranteed of freedom of speech:
  1. State vs. Ramchunder, AIR 1959, Punjab,41
  2. State vs. Editor of Matrabhumi, AIR 1955, Orissa, 36
  3. EMS Namboodiripad vs T N Nambiar Criminal Appeal No 56 of 1968 and expression should completely neglect and exclude the authority and power of courts to grant punishment for the contempt's in procedures.

    The right guaranteed is for the free society, and the Constitution has itself imposed several restrictions upon the citizens in respect to contempt of court acts and thus freedom in any sort can not abolish or negate the law that pinpoints attacks towards judges and courts and if any then they shall be condoned.

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