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'Dignity Of Court Can't Be Tarnished By Stray Slights Or Irresponsible Content' : Bombay High Court Refuses To Take Contempt Action Against YouTuber

Sharmeen Hakim
23 Aug 2021 5:32 AM GMT
Dignity Of Court Cant Be Tarnished By Stray Slights Or Irresponsible Content : Bombay High Court Refuses To Take Contempt Action Against YouTuber
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The Bench led by CJ Dipankar Datta observed that the power of contempt of Court is not to protect the dignity of the court against insult, but, to protect and vindicate the rights of the people.

The court's power to haul up an individual for contempt is not to protect itself from insult but to protect people's rights and ensure administration of justice, the Bombay High Court held while refusing to take action against a British 'activist' for his comments against the subordinate judiciary in Goa. A bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta observed that courts are entrusted...

The court's power to haul up an individual for contempt is not to protect itself from insult but to protect people's rights and ensure administration of justice, the Bombay High Court held while refusing to take action against a British 'activist' for his comments against the subordinate judiciary in Goa.

A bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta observed that courts are entrusted with contempt powers to fulfil their duties towards people and take action sparingly.

"According to us, the shoulders of our institution are broad enough to shrug off such scurrilous allegations. The dignity and authority of our judicial institutions are neither dependent on the opinions allegedly expressed by Respondent No.1(David Clever) nor can the dignity of our institution and its officers be tarnished by such stray slights or irresponsible content."the bench observed.

However, the court added that its magnanimity in ignoring irresponsible statements, like the case at hand, is not a sign of weakness but strength. It needs no reiteration that millions pin their hopes on judiciary to protect their lives, liberty, property, and the like.

With the above observations, the bench disposed of a contempt petition filed by Kashinath Shetye, a Goa resident, after obtaining the requisite consent of the Advocate General. Shetye sought action against David Cleaver, a British citizen under Section 2( c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, for making allegations against the lower judiciary in Goa.

The High Court held that "such content is best treated with contempt, rather than in contempt."

Based on inquiries made with the HC's registry, the bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Sonak said that the You Tuber is probably being used as a front for a few disgruntled litigants.

"Therefore to take this matter any further might only serve to feed the publicity craze of those that have uploaded this content to provoke rather than out of some concern to bring to fore some genuine grievance concerning the administration of justice in Goa," the court observed.

It added, "The Court has the duty of protecting this interest of the community in the due administration of justice and, so, it is entrusted with the power to punish for its contempt. This power is to be only sparingly exercised, not to protect the dignity of the court against insult or injury, but, to protect and vindicate the right of the people so that the administration of justice is not perverted, prejudiced, obstructed, or interfered with."

Case Title: Kashinath Jairam Shetye v. David Clever & Ors

Click here to read/download the order


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