Law Of Contempt Of Court- In A Face-Off With Right To Freedom Of Speech And Expression Which Includes Right Of Fair Criticism

Shobha Gupta

21 Aug 2020 1:00 PM GMT

  • Law Of Contempt Of Court- In A Face-Off With Right To Freedom Of Speech And Expression Which Includes Right Of Fair Criticism

    The jurisdiction of Contempt of Court, is one such jurisdiction available to the of courts of law, invocation of which invariably than often demands a debate, specially when it relates to criminal contempt of court.

    The origin of the law of Contempt of Courts in India traces from the English law. The first Indian statute on the law of contempt, i.e., the Contempt of Courts Act was passed in 1926. It was later replaced by the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952. The 1952 Act was replaced by the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, enacted to define and limit the powers of certain courts in punishing contempt of courts and to regulate their procedure in relation thereto, for keeping the administration of justice and upholding the majesty of the judicial system.

    Section 2 of Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, bifurcates the 'Contempt of Court' in two categories- (i) Civil Contempt and (ii) Criminal Contempt. Section 2(b) defines Civil Contempt to mean - 'wilful disobedience to any judgment/ decree/ direction/ order/ writ or other process of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court. Section 2(c) of the Act defines 'Criminal Contempt' to mean- the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which: (i) scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court; or (ii) prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or (iii) interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner. The present article concentrates on the extraordinary jurisdiction of 'Criminal Contempt'.

    The jurisdiction of courts to punish for contempt touches upon the most cherished fundamental right of the citizen of India namely, the right to freedom of speech and expression which includes the right of fair criticism. There cannot be any dispute that maintaining the administration of justice in high esteem and upholding the majesty of the courts are two foundational necessities for upholding the majesty of the judicial system, but at the same time 'the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression and right to fair and legitimate criticism, which every citizen possesses, cannot be throttled or asphyxiated, rather a concerted and conscious effort needs to be made to protect the same.

    The law of contempt is now almost a century old law, but the quest still continues to strike a fine balance between 'the need to uphold the majesty of the courts and administration of justice' AND 'the non-compromisable fundamental right to freedom of speech protected and guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India', subject of course to "reasonable restrictions" according to the provisions of Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India. The endeavour in this article is to reflect upon the journey so far of the Supreme Court of India a propos this uphill task of striking a fine balance between the two. There is no dearth of cases wherein the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India tested these two important but contrasting non-compromisable principles. It is interesting to go through the long trail of cases on this issue to see how the Apex Court of India has dealt with this dichotomy.

    In Brahma Prakash Sharma v State of U.P. (1953 SCR 1169), the Constitution Bench (5 judges) of the Supreme Court while dealing with a case wherein the members of the Executive Committee of the District Bar Association at Muzzafarnagar within the State of Uttar Pradesh were hauled up for criminal contempt by the High Court as the Executive Committee of the District Bar Association, Muzzafarnagar, upon receiving complaints against a judicial magistrate and a revenue officer, passed a resolution to the effect that based on material provided to the Association they are of the considered opinion that the two officers are thoroughly incompetent in law, they do not inspire confidence in their judicial work, are given to stating wrong facts when passing orders and are overbearing and discourteous to the litigant public and the lawyers alike. Besides the abovementioned defects common to both of them, other defects are separately catalogued. This resolution gave birth to the contempt proceedings. The matter came up to the Supreme Court against the order of the High Court observing that the allegations made against the Judicial officers fall within the category of contempt which is committed by 'scandalising the court'. These were those good old times when the learned Attorney General, the legal luminary Mr. M.C. Setalvad supported the appeal filed by the Executive Members of the Bar Association and argued that the resolution subject matter of scrutiny would not 'per se' amount to contempt of court. The Constitution Bench of the Hon'ble Supreme Court while weighing in favour of the submissions made by the then Attorney General, held that "It would be only repeating what has been said so often by various Judges that the object of contempt proceedings is not to afford protection to Judges personally from imputations to which they may be exposed as individuals; it is intended to be a protection to the public whose interests would be very much affected if by the act or conduct of any party, the authority of the court is lowered and the sense of confidence which people have in the administration of justice by it is weakened".

    The Constitution Bench further held that "in the first place, the reflection on the conduct or character of a judge in reference to the discharge of his judicial duties, would not be contempt if such reflection is made in the exercise of the right of fair and reasonable criticism which every citizen possesses in respect of public acts done in the seat of justice. It is not by stifling criticism that confidence in courts can be created. In the second place, when attacks or comments are made on a Judge or Judges, disparaging in character and derogatory to their dignity, care should be taken to distinguish between what is a libel on the Judge and what amounts really to contempt of court. The fact that a statement is defamatory so far as the Judge is concerned does not necessarily make it a contempt. A defamatory attack on a Judge may be a libel so far as the judge is concerned and it would be open to him to proceed against the libellor in a proper action if he so chooses. If, however, the publication of the disparaging statement is calculated to interfere with the due course of justice or proper administration of law by such court, it can be punished summarily as contempt. Thus, one is a wrong done to the Judge personally while the other is a wrong done to the public. It will be an injury to the public if it tends to create an apprehension in the minds of the people regarding the integrity, ability or fairness of the Judge or to deter actual and prospective litigants from placing complete reliance upon the court's administration of justice, or if it is likely to cause embarrassment in the mind of the Judge himself in the discharge of his judicial duties".

    The Constitution Bench also referred to 'Bahama Islands' [In the matter of a Special Reference from the Bahama Islands, 1893 AC 138 (PC], and observed that the distinction between a libel and a contempt was pointed out by a Committee of the Privy Council in Bahama Islands. In this case "A man in the Bahama Islands, in a letter published in a colonial newspaper criticised the Chief Justice of the Colony in an extremely ill-chosen language which was sarcastic and pungent. There was a veiled insinuation that he was an incompetent Judge and a shirker of work and the writer suggested in a way that it would be a providential thing if he were to die. A strong Board constituting of 11 members reported that the letter complained of, though it might have been made the subject of proceedings for libel, was not, in the circumstances, calculated to obstruct or interfere with the course of justice or the due administration of the law and therefore did not constitute a contempt of court".

    Lord Morris in MacLeod v. St. Aubin [(1899) Appeal Cases 549] observed that "the power summarily to commit for contempt is considered necessary for the proper administration of justice. It is not to be used for the vindication of a Judge as a person. He must resort to action for libel or criminal information." Lord Atkin, in Devi Prashad Sharma v. King Emperor (70 IA 216) observed that "no doubt it is galling for any judicial personage to be criticised publicly as having done something outside his judicial proceedings which was ill-advised or indiscreet. But judicial personages can afford not to be too sensitive. A simple denial in public of the alleged request would at once have allayed the trouble. If a Judge is defamed in such a way as not to affect the administration of justice, he has the ordinary remedies for defamation if he should feel impelled to use them".

    In Perspective Publications (P) Ltd. v/s State of Maharashtra (1969) 2 SCR 779, a 3-Judges Bench of Hon'ble Supreme Court while dealing with the judgment of Bombay High Court holding the appellants guilty of having committed contempt of Justice Tarkunde in his judicial capacity and of the Court, sentenced the appellant no. 1 for simple imprisonment of 1 month with fine amounting to Rs. 1000/- for publishing an article on 24.04.1965 in a weekly periodical called Mainstream making allegations of pecuniary benefits to the learned judge for passing judgment in favour of certain party. The 3 Judges Bench after discussing various cases summarised the law of criminal contempt of court as under:

    "(1) It will not be right to say that committals for contempt scandalizing the court have become obsolete.

    (2) The summary jurisdiction by way of contempt must be exercised with great care and caution and only when its exercise is necessary for the proper administration of law and justice.

    (3) It is open to anyone to express fair, reasonable and legitimate criticism of any act or conduct of a Judge in his judicial capacity or even to make a proper and fair comment on any decision given by him because "justice is not a cloistered virtue and she must be allowed to suffer the scrutiny and respectful, even though outspoken, comments of ordinary men".

    (4) A distinction must be made between a mere libel or defamation of a Judge and what amounts to a contempt of the court. The test in each case would be whether the impugned publication is a mere defamatory attack on the Judge or whether it is calculated to interfere with the due course of justice or the proper administration of law by this Court. It is only in the latter case that it will be punishable as Contempt.

    (5) Alternatively the test will be whether the wrong is done to the Judge personally or it is done to the public. The Hon'ble Court further held that the publication of a disparaging statement will be an injury to the public if it tends to create an apprehension in the minds of the people regarding the integrity, ability or fairness of the Judge or to deter actual and prospective litigants from placing complete reliance upon the court's administration of justice or if it is likely to cause embarrassment in the mind of the Judge himself in the discharge of his judicial duties."

    Another Constitutional Bench (6 Judges) in the matter of Rustom Cowasjee Cooper v/s Union of India (1970) 2 SCC 298, while dealing with the contempt proceedings, initiated based on the newspaper reports, reporting the speeches given in a meeting organized by Blitz National Forum on 13.02.1970 at Vithalbhai Patel House at Delhi wherein the speakers criticised the decision dated 10.02.1970 of the Supreme Court by a majority of ten Judges against one declaring the Banking Companies (Acquisition of Transfer of Undertakings) Act, being Act 22 of 1969, to be unconstitutional, held that "there is no doubt that the Court like any other institution does not enjoy immunity from fair criticism"...." while fair and temperate criticism of this Court or any other Court even if strong, may not be actionable, attributing improper motives, or tending to bring Judges or courts into hatred and contempt or obstructing directly or indirectly with the functioning of courts is serious contempt of which notice must and will be taken".

    In Gobind Ram v. State of Maharashtra, (1972 (1) SCC 740, another Constitution Bench [5 judges] held that "It is difficult to comprehend that the mere statement that a Magistrate is friendly with a party who happens to be an advocate and enjoys his hospitality or has friendly relations with him will constitute contempt unless there is an imputation of some improper motives as would amount to scandalizing the court itself and as would have a tendency to create distrust in the popular mind and impair the confidence of the people in the courts. The allegations contained in para 1 of the transfer application may or may not amount to defamation of the two judges, namely, Sarvshri Sayyid and Baadkar but to constitute contempt the other tests which have been discussed above must be fulfilled. The test in each case would be whether the impugned publication is a mere defamatory attack on the judge or whether it is calculated to interfere with the due course of justice or the proper administration of law by his court. It is only in the latter case that it will be punishable as contempt".

    In Shri Baradakanta Mishra v. Registrar of Orissa and Another, (1974) 1 SCC 374, the Constitution Bench (Five Judges), while dealing with a case where the Senior District Judge (Judicial) from Orissa was alleged of multiple contempts for making allegations/insinuations in his representation to the Governor and averments made in a Special Leave Petition filed before the Supreme Court, attributing mala fides, bias and prejudice to the High Court and sought protection from the Government against the High Court. Full Bench of the High Court held him guilty of Contempt of Court. The dissenting view wrote by Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer for himself and Justice P. N. Bhagawati in Para 60 of the Judgment, observes that "the dilemma of the law of contempt arises because of the constitutional need to balance two great but occasionally conflicting principles — freedom of expression and fair and fearless justice — remembering the brooding presence of Articles 19(1)(a), 19(2), 129 and 215 of the Constitution". In para 65 Justice Krishna Iyer further observes that "before stating the principles of law bearing on the facets of contempt of court raised in this case we would like to underscore the need to draw the lines clear enough to create confidence in the people that this ancient and inherent power, intended to preserve the faith of the public in public justice, will not be so used as to provoke public hostility as overtook the Star Chamber. A vague and wandering jurisdiction with uncertain frontiers, a sensitive and suspect power to punish vested in the prosecutor, a law which makes it a crime to publish regardless of truth and public good and permits a process of brevi manu conviction, may unwittingly trench upon civil liberties and so the special jurisdiction and jurisprudence bearing on contempt power must be delineated with deliberation and operated with serious circumspection by the higher judicial echelons".

    It further reads- "the Supreme Court and the High Courts, must vigilantly protect free speech even against judicial umbrage — a delicate but sacred duty whose discharge demands tolerance and detachment of a high order".

    Justice Krishna Iyer further notes in Shri Baradakanta Mishra (supra) that - "The law of contempt is not made for the protection of judges who may be sensitive to the winds of public opinion. Judges are supposed to be men of fortitude, able to thrive in a hardy climate."-Douglas, J., Craig v. Harney, 331 US 367, 376 (1947)", that "Judges as persons, or courts as institutions, are entitled to no greater immunity from criticism than other persons or institutions. Just because the holders of judicial office are identified with the interests of justice they may forget their common human frailties and fallibilities. There have sometimes been martinets upon the Bench as there have also been pompous wielders of authority who have used the paraphernalis of power in support of what they called their dignity. Therefore, judges must be kept mindful of their limitations and their ultimate public responsibility by a vigorous stream of criticism expressed with candor, however blunt."- Frankfurter, J. nor Bridges v. California, 314 US 252, 289 (1941)"

    Justice Krishna Iyer observes in para 70 of Shri Baradakanta Mishra (supra) that "to treat, as the High Court has done, "the image and personality of the High Court as an integrated one" and to hold that every shadow that darkens it is contempt, is to forget life, reason and political progress. For, if a judge has an integrated personality and his wife openly accuses him of neglect or worse, she would certainly reduce the confidence of the public in him as judge! Will her accusation be personalised contempt? If a judge expresses on a platform crude views on moral lapses and is severely criticised in public for it, it will undoubtedly debunk him as a judge. Will such censure be branded contempt?"

    Justice Krishna Iyer further observes that "If judges decay the contempt power will not save them and so the other side of the coin is that Judges, like Caesar's wife, must be above suspicion". Justice Krishna Iyer thus summed up by observing that "the key word is "justice", not "judge"; the keynote thought is unobstructed public justice, not the self-defence of a judge; the corner-stone of the contempt law is the accommodation of two constitutional values — the right of free speech and the right to independent justice. The ignition of contempt action should be substantial and mala fide interference with fearless judicial action, not fair comment or trivial reflections on the judicial process and personnel".

    Justice Gajendragadkar, the then CJI, speaking for the bench in Special Reference No. 1 of 1964 [(1965) 1 SCR 413, 501] [Constitution Bench, 7 Judges] cautioned for economic use of tool of contempt to avoid its side effects- "We ought never to forget that the power to punish for contempt large as it is, must always be exercised cautiously, wisely, and with circumspection. Frequent or indiscriminate use of this power in anger or irritation would not help to sustain the dignity or status of the court, but may sometimes affect it adversely. Wise Judges never forget that the best way to sustain the dignity and status of their office is to deserve respect from the public at large by the quality of their judgments, the fearlessness, fairness and objectivity of their approach, and by the restraint, dignity and decorum which they observe in their judicial conduct."

    Advocacy touches and asserts the primary value of freedom of expression and that freedom of expression produces the benefit of the truth to emerge- observed by the 3 judges bench of Supreme Court in D.C. Saxena (Dr) v. Hon'ble The Chief Justice of India, (1996) 5 SCC 216. The Hon'ble Court further observes that- "It is a practical manifestation of the principle of freedom of speech which holds so dear in a democracy of ability to express freely. It aids the revelation of the mistakes or bias or at times even corruption. It assists stability by tempered articulation of grievances and by promoting peaceful resolution of conflicts. Freedom of expression in arguments encourages the development of judicial dignity, forensic skills of advocacy and enables protection of fraternity, equality and justice. It plays its part in helping to secure the protection of other fundamental human rights. Legal procedure illuminates how free speech of expression constitutes one of the most essential foundations of democratic society. Freedom of expression, therefore, is one of the basic conditions for the progress of advocacy and for the development of every man including legal fraternity practising the profession of law. Freedom of expression, therefore, is vital to the maintenance of free society. It is essential to the rule of law and liberty of the citizens. The advocate or the party appearing in person, therefore, is given liberty of expression. As stated hereinbefore, they equally owe countervailing duty to maintain dignity, decorum and order in the court proceedings or judicial process.". Every single word of this para speaks volumes a propos the expectation of the Constitution Bench comprising of the then Chief Justice from the legal fraternity to practice in courts with courage to speak the truth.

    While dropping the contempt action against Medha Patkar, Shripad Dharmadhikari and Arundhati Roy in Narmada Bachao Andolan v. Union of India, (1999) 8 SCC 308, Justice Bharucha in his concurring order observed "While I record my disapproval of the statements that are complained of, I am not inclined to take action in contempt against because the Court's shoulders are broad enough to shrug off their comments".

    In Vishwanath v. E.S. Venkatramaih (1990 Cri LJ 2179 (Bom), Mr E.S. Venkataramiah, former Chief Justice of India, gave an interview to a noted journalist Kuldeep Nair at the eve of his retirement on 17-12-1989 which was published in several newspapers. In course of interview, the former Chief Justice is stated to have made the following statement: "The judiciary in India has deteriorated in its standards because such Judges are appointed as are willing to be influenced by lavish parties & whisky bottles". In every High Court, Justice Venkataramiah said, there are at least 4 to 5 Judges who are practically out every evening, wining and dining either at a lawyer's house or foreign embassy. He estimates the number of such Judges around 90 and favours transferring them to other High Courts. Chief Justice Venkataramiah reiterated that close relations of the Judges be debarred from practising in the same High Courts. He expressed himself strongly against sons-in-law and brothers of the Judges appearing in the courts where the latter are on the Bench. Most relations of the Judges are practising in the High Courts of Allahabad, Chandigarh, Delhi and Patna. According to Chief Justice Venkataramiah practically in all the 22 High Courts in the country close relations of the Judges are thriving. There are allegations that certain judgments have been influenced through them even though they have not been directly engaged as lawyers in such case. It is hard to believe the reports that every brother, son or son-in-law of a Judge whatever his merit or lack of it as lawyer can be sure of earning an income of more than Rs 10,000 a month. The Division Bench of the Bombay High Court held that the words complained of did not amount to contempt of court on the grounds that (1) the entire interview appears to have been given with the idea to improve the judiciary; (2) the Supreme Court had dismissed Writ Petition (C) No. 126 of 1990 filed on behalf of State Legal Aid Committee, J&K for an appropriate writ commanding the Union of India or any other appropriate authority to disclose the names of 90 Judges as mentioned by the former Chief Justice of India.

    A Division Bench of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Indirect Tax Practitioners' Assn. v. R.K. Jain, (2010) 8 SCC 281, beautifully defended the freedom of speech and fair criticism by observing that- "After Independence, the courts have zealously guarded this most precious freedom of every human being. Fair criticism of the system of administration of justice or functioning of institutions or authorities entrusted with the task of deciding rights of the parties gives an opportunity to the operators of the system/institution to remedy the wrong and also bring about improvements. Such criticism cannot be castigated as an attempt to scandalise or lower the authority of the court or other judicial institutions or as an attempt to interfere with the administration of justice except when such criticism is ill-motivated or is construed as a deliberate attempt to run down the institution or an individual Judge is targeted for extraneous reasons". The Hon'ble Court further observed - Ordinarily, the court would not use the power to punish for contempt for curbing the right of freedom of speech and expression, which is guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Only when the criticism of judicial institutions transgresses all limits of decency and fairness or there is total lack of objectivity or there is deliberate attempt to denigrate the institution then the court would use this power. The judgments of this Court in S. Mulgaokar, In re. 11 and P.N. Duda v. P. Shiv Shanker ( are outstanding examples of this attitude and approach".

    Speaking for the bench Justice Sabyasachi Mukharji in P.N. Duda v. P. Shiv Shanker, (1988) 3 SCC 167, held that "It has to be admitted frankly and fairly that there has been erosion of faith in the dignity of the court and in the majesty of law and that has been caused not so much by the scandalising remarks made by politicians or ministers but the inability of the courts of law to deliver quick and substantial justice to the needy. Many today suffer from remediless evils which courts of justice are incompetent to deal with. Justice cries in silence for long, far too long. The procedural wrangle is eroding the faith in our justice system. It is a criticism which the judges and lawyers must make about themselves. We must turn the searchlight inward. At the same time we cannot be oblivious of the attempts made to decry or denigrate the judicial process, if it is seriously done".

    Justice Brennan of U.S. Supreme Court in New York Times Company v. L.B. Sullivan 376 US 254 : 11 L Edn 2d 686) observes that "it is a prized privilege to speak one's mind, although not always with perfect good taste, on all public institutions and this opportunity should be afforded for vigorous advocacy no less than abstract discussion".

    Lord Denning in Regina v. Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, ex parte Blackbur ((1968) 2 WLR 1204 : (1968) 2 All ER 319 ) observes that "Let me say at once that we will never use this jurisdiction as a means to uphold our own dignity. That must rest on surer foundations. Nor will we use it to suppress those who speak against us. We do not fear criticism, nor do we resent it. For there is something far more important at stake. It is no less than freedom of speech itself. It is the right of every man, in Parliament or out of it, in the press or over the broadcast, to make fair comment, even outspoken comment, on matters of public interest. We must rely on our conduct itself to be its own vindication.…Silence is not an option when things are ill done."

    In Het Ram Beniwal v. Raghuveer Singh, (2017) 4 SCC 340, the Hon'ble Supreme Court has reiterated that that "Every citizen has a fundamental right to speech, guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India. Contempt of court is one of the restrictions on such right. We are conscious that the power under the Act has to be exercised sparingly and not in a routine manner. If there is a calculated effort to undermine the judiciary, the courts will exercise their jurisdiction to punish the offender for committing contempt".

    In Baradakanta Mishra v. Registrar of Orissa High Court, (1974) 1 SCC 374, the Constitution Bench (5 Judges), observes that "Even so, if Judges have frailities— after all they are human — they need to be corrected by independent criticism. If the judicature has serious shortcomings which demand systemic correction through socially-oriented reform initiated through constructive criticism, the contempt power should not be an interdict. All this, far from undermining the confidence of the public in Courts, enhances it and, in the last analysis, cannot be repressed by indiscriminate resort to contempt power. Even bodies like the Law Commission or the Law Institute and researchers, legal and sociological, may run "contempt" risks because their professional work sometimes involves unpleasant criticism of judges, judicial processes and the system itself and thus hover perilously around the periphery of the law if widely construed. Creative legal journalism and activist statesmanship for judicial reform cannot be jeopardised by an undefined apprehension of contempt action".

    A careful look at the views taken in above referred judgements/ quotes, it is clear like sky that neither the purpose of the contempt jurisdiction was to unwelcome or curb or throttle the criticism be it of judges or the courts or their judgements, nor it has so been understood or interpreted by the Apex Court of this Country or the Foreign Courts. Majesty of the Courts is far too high and supreme to be affected or lowered by a mere criticism, how-so-ever strongly it may have been be worded. Not every or any criticism can lower the majesty of the courts. It is also clear from the view consistently taken in the above referred judgments that it may not be safe or advisable to intermix two separate entities, namely a judge in particular and the institution i.e. courts. A frank criticism rather gives an opportunity to stop and look back and apply the corrective measures. The Hon'ble Supreme Court has repeatedly held the contempt jurisdiction may be invoked with scrupulous care and extreme restraint and only when the case is clear and beyond reasonable doubt (Baradakanta Mishra v. Registrar of Orissa High Court, (1974) 1 SCC 374 [Constitution Bench (5 Judges)]. In S. Mulgaokar, In re, (1978) 3 SCC 339, Justice Krishna Iyer in his separate though concurring judgement has held "It may be better in many cases for the judiciary to adopt a magnanimously charitable attitude even when utterly uncharitable and unfair criticism of its operations is made out of bona fide concern for improvement".

    To uphold the courts and its functionaries in high esteem and to uphold its majesty, what may help is a very constructive and harmonious atmosphere with mutual respect and harmonious approach. The lawyers and the judges are two indispensable wheels of the chariot of justice and any imbalance or tilting of power or non-coordination between the two, may make the cause of justice to suffer.

    It would be apt to conclude this chapter with observations of Justice Krishna Iyer in S. Mulgaokar (supra) in his extraordinary, mesmerizing and unparalleled style of writing- "The contempt power, though jurisdictionally large, is discretionary in its unsheathed exercise. Every commission of contempt need not erupt in indignant committal or demand punishment, because Judges are judicious, their valour non-violent and their wisdom goes into action when played upon by a volley of values, the least of which is personal protection—for a wide discretion, range of circumspection and rainbow of public considerations benignantly guide that power. Justice is not hubris; power is not petulance and prudence is not pusillanimity, especially when Judges are themselves prospectors and mercy is a mark of strength, not whimper of weakness"…………"Poise and peace and inner harmony are so quintessential to the judicial temper that huff, "haywire" or even humiliation shall not besiege; nor, unveracious provocation, frivolous persiflage nor terminological inexactitude throw into palpitating tantrums the balanced cerebration of the judicial mind".

    Views are personal only.

    (Author is an Advocate at Supreme Court of India)

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