New Delhi | Supreme court today said while upholding the Kerala High Court order holding former CPI(M) MLA M V Jayarajan guilty of contempt of court for using abusive and pejorative language that Judges expect, nay invite, an informed and genuine discussion or criticism of judgments. To incite a relatively illiterate audience against the Judiciary, is not to be ignored, a bench comprising justices Vikramajit Sen and C Nagappan said.
The bench affirmed the high court order to incarcerate Jayarajan for contempt of court, saying the right of free speech certainly does not extend to inciting the public directly or insidiously to disobey court orders. The apex court said the CPI(M) leader, being an advocate and also a former legislator, was aware that the Constitution was premised on the separation of powers between executive, legislature and the judiciary to perform their duties within the constitutional framework.
He is fully aware that while he has the right of freedom of speech of expression, this postulates a temperate and reasoned criticism and not a vitriolic, slanderous or abusive one; this right of free speech certainly does not extend to inciting the public directly or insidiously to disobey court orders, the bench said. The apex court in its 16-page order said having perused the translations of his speech, we are left in no manner of doubt that he intended to lower the dignity of Court, to obstruct and impede its functioning and not merely to criticize its pronouncement which was not to his liking.
The bench observed that since Jayarajan has shown no remorse or contrition for his conduct, his conduct leaves him unquestionably guilty of the offence of contempt of courts, calling for him to be punished for his illegal act.
The apex court said Jayarajan has vainly etymologised the Sanskrit origin of sumbhan, fully aware of the fact that it is a slang, especially to the rural and rustic persons he was addressing, and conveyed a strong abuse. It said the appellant indubitably exercised his freedom of speech while dissecting the judgment and argued that it was contrary to law and could also be excused for saying that judges live in glass houses.
It is not open to the appellant or any person to employ abusive and pejorative language to the authors of a judgment and call upon them to resign and step down from their office if they have any self respect, the bench said. The apex court said the speech was made within a couple of days of the passing of the ad interim injunction and no evidence produced by the appellant to support his utterance that the judgment was opposed by the public at large.
Hence we see these parts of the speech as intending to scandalise and lower the dignity of the Court, and as an intentional and calculated obstruction in the administration of justice. This requires to be roundly repulsed and combated, it said. While hearing a PIL, Kerala High Court had on June 23, 2010, passed an order banning public meetings on roads and road margins in the state with the object of ensuring accident-free and uninterrupted traffic.
Jayarajan, on June 26, 2010, delivered a speech in a public meeting at Kannur in Kerala allegedly convened in connection with a hartal organised to protest against the hike in petroleum prices, which was widely reported by the media, and had criticised the judgement of High Court.
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