Day 1 Arguments

Constitutionality of Criminal Contempt

August 13th 2020

N. Ram, Prashant Bhushan, and Arun Shourie filed a petition challenging the constitutional validity of s.2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Courts Act 1971, which describes criminal contempt as any matter which ‘scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court’.


The case was earlier listed before a bench of Justices Chandrachud and Joseph on August 10th but thereafter was deleted from the cause list. The case came up today before a three-judge bench consisting of Justices MishraGavai and Murari.


The Supreme Court Registry circulated a note stating that since another bench was hearing similar matters, the case challenging the constitutionality of criminal contempt was listed by the Registry before Justice Chandrachud’s bench by mistake.


Petitioners Seek to Withdraw the Petition

Sr. Adv. Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the petitioners, sought the court’s leave to withdraw the writ petition with the liberty of filing it at a later point. He noted: ‘The issue is important but this is not the propitious stage.’ He pointed to a letter sent to the Supreme Court Registry on 12 August by Kamini Jaiswal, Advocate on Record for petitioners, seeking permission to withdraw the petition.


J. Mishra was not keen on allowing this request. He noted that the bench could not permit withdrawal of the petition with the liberty to file the same petition before the Supreme Court. However, he added that the petitioners could move the petition before a High Court. Dhavan agreed to this and responded that the petitioners would approach a High Court with their plea.


The Court allowed the petitioners to withdraw the petition and file it before a High Court at a later point.


(This post relied on contributions from Cheryl D’Souza, advocate, Supreme Court of India.)