Plea in SC challenges constitutional validity of Contempt of Courts Act provisions

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New Delhi [India], Aug 1 : A petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Saturday challenging the constitutional validity of Section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 claiming it is unconstitutionally, incurably vague, and is manifestly arbitrary.

The joint petition, filed by senior journalist N Ram, former union minister Arun Shourie, and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, submitted that the impugned sub-section is unconstitutional as it is incompatible with preambular values and basic features of the Constitution.

The plea, which is likely to come up for hearing before the apex court within a week, said that the sub-section is violative of Articles 19 and 14 of the Constitution of India.

“Firsy, the impugned sub-section fails the test of overbreadth. Secondly, the impugned sub-section abridges the right to free speech and expression in the absence of tangible and proximate harm. Thirdly, the impugned sub-section creates a chilling effect on free speech and expression,” the plea said.

“The impugned sub-section, despite setting out penal consequences, is incurably vague. lt uses vague terminology whose scope and limits are impossible to demarcate. ln particular, the phrase scandalises or tends to scandalise invites subjective and greatly differing readings,” it added.

The plea said that the impugned sub-section thus falls under the offence and violates the Article 14 demands of equal treatment and non-arbitrariness.

This comes as the Supreme Court has taken up a suo motu criminal contempt matter against Bhushan over his alleged tweets. Bhushan had on June 27 accused the Supreme Court of playing a part in the “destruction of India’s democracy” in the last six years. (ANI)

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