India Uncut

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Friday, August 05, 2005

Contempt of the people

I've always found India's laws regarding contempt of court to be rather bizarre, as they restrain free speech in not allowing people to criticize court judgements, or even to point out, with evidence, that a judge may have taken a bribe. Well, an eminent judge has finally spoken up for the people, and Fali Nariman applauds it in the Indian Express. He writes:
The speech delivered by Justice Markandey Katju, chief justice of the High Court of Madras, on the first anniversary of the inauguration of the Madurai Bench (July 24) was like a breath of fresh air. He said that it was a fundamental principle in democracy that the people are supreme, and that all authorities — judges, legislators, ministers, bureaucrats, and so on — were servants of the people, and should be proud to be servants of the people. He did not stop there. Since the people are our masters, he went on, and we are their servants, surely the masters have a right to criticise us and take us to task if we do not function properly; so we should not take offence when the people criticise us; our authority rests on public confidence, and not on the power of contempt.
Read the full piece, in which Nariman examines the origins of "the branch of law known as 'scandalising the court'".

Also, Nariman speaks out here for reforming the lower judiciary.
amit varma, 12:31 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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