ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Uses and Abuses of the Potent Power of Contempt

Against the backdrop of some recent decisions of the courts which could sound the death knell for the freedom of speech in the country, this article argues that the courts should exercise contempt powers judiciously and only in the gravest of circumstances. It compares past pronouncements, which call for a greater judicial restraint in exercise of contempt of powers, with the recent trend of the judiciary to arrogate to itself near despotic powers under the guise of "contempt".

Why did I laugh? Because I suddenly remembered the tender concern with which the Supreme Court Judges in Delhi (before vacating the legal stay on further construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam) had inquired whether tribal children in the resettlement colonies would have children's parks to play in... Most tribal people – or let's say, most small farmers – have as much use for money as a Supreme Court Judge has for a bag of fertiliser.

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