Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Media entitled to fair criticism of court judgment: SC

Media entitled to fair criticism of court judgment: SC


02.08.2010 (UNI) The Supreme Court has said that media is entitled to fair criticism of the judgement delivered by the court and such criticism is part of the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution of India.

A bench comprising Justices J M Panchal and A K Patnaik in their judgement noted ‘national interest requires that all criticism of the judiciary must be strictly rational and sober and proceed from the highest motive without being coloured by any partisan spirit or tactics.’ ‘There is no manner of doubt that freedom of expressions contemplated by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India is available to the press and to criticise a judgement fairly albeit fiercely is no crime but a necessary right,’ the bench said.

The apex court, while dropping contempt of court proceedings against Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, leading English daily The Times of India and its former Supreme Court correspondent Rakesh Bhatnagar for criticising corruption in judiciary, further said ‘a fair and reasonable criticism of a judgement which is a public document or which is a public act of a judge concerned with administration of justice would not constitute contempt’.

In fact, such fair and reasonable criticism must be encouraged because after all no one, much less judges, can claim infallibility.
The message examined the evils prevailing in the judicial system and was written with an object to achieve maintenance of purity in the administration of justice and the message was exposition of Mr Sibal’s ideology.

Contempt of court proceedings were initiated against Mr Sibal and others for an article published in the leading English daily from Delhi on April 16, 1995 in which Mr Sibal, who was a senior advocate at that time, is alleged to have made a frontal attack on the corruption in judiciary.

The 27-page judgement has been written by Justice Panchal for the bench. UNI

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