Objective

Author in this article discusses the recent judgement relating to contempt of court against Adv. Prashant Bhushanand the relatively less discussed related aspect namely freedom [or absence thereof] of expression to judges.

Background

Recently, Supreme Court took suo-motu cognizance of two “tweets posted by Advocate Prashant Bhushan potentially committing a contempt of court. It proceeded with the case and held Adv. Bhushan Guilty of Contempt of Court. Much debate is happening on media about correctness and otherwise of the judgement and suggestions as to what can be done.

It is said that out of the three pillars as envisaged by the constitution of India i.e. Legislature [those who make the Law]

Executives [those who implement the law]

Judiciary [those who interpret the law]

Judiciary is the weakest because it neither has purse–[Parliament] nor sword [Executives].

But the less discussed [which is equally important] area is ABSENCE of equivalent freedom of expression to judges. With the Electronic, television, print and social media, unless properly responded, it may cause an irreversible damage about image of the institution.

The situation is worsened because there is a restriction on the judges whereby they can not enter into public debate or express his views in public on political matters or on matters that are pending or are likely to arise for judicial determination.

The result is that, people are allowed to criticise the functioning of judiciary but judiciary is paralysed when it comes to plead its own case. Even otherwise, by its very nature, the role of judiciary is more of corrective in nature than being preventive or creative.

Executive Summary

At the outset, there are multiple and powerful political aspects to this subject. The author does not address the same.

Problem-:

There is a need to setup a mechanism whereby the Judiciary will be able to respond to the criticisms, observations, and opinions as aired without the same being binding.

It is also to achieve the cardinal principle that “Justice should not only be made but should also be seen to have been made”.

Response / Proposed Solution-:

The judgement holding Adv. Prashant Bhushan for Contempt of Court dated 14-Aug-2020 essentially needs to be read with the punishment judgement dated 31-Aug-2020. It is so because many issues which should have been addressed in 14-Aug-2020 judgement have been dealt with in the punishment judgement dated 31-Aug-2020.

Form a judicial Commission of India where various courts can refer important cases to the commission and the commission will publish the same in layman’s language. IT will also respond to criticism, observations, opinions expressed in this regard.

Structure of the article-:

The article gives authors own analysis. This article is based on a judicial pronouncement and is divided into following parts.

Part – I – contempt case in brief PART – II – Possible Solution.
Citation of the case Facts of the case
Cases referred to Legislative Background
Entering the subject Judicial Pronouncements
Issues and Answer Contention of revenue
Author’s opinion Contention of assesse

PART – I Case in brief

Citation of the case

INHERENT JURISDICTION, SUO MOTU CONTEMPT PETITION (CRL.) NO.1 OF 2020

IN RE: PRASHANT BHUSHAN & ANR. …. ALLEGED CONTEMNOR(S) Judgement dated 14-Aug-2020 delivered by 3 member bench of SC.

Entering the subject

Adv. Prashant Bhushan made following  posts on his twitter account [“tweets”] made against the CJI, is to the following effect :-

“CJI rides a 50 Lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP leader at Raj Bhavan Nagpur, without a mask or helmet, at a time when he keeps the SC in Lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access justice!”

another tweet has been published in theTimes of India which was made by Shri Prashant Bhushan on June 27, 2020, when he tweeted,

“When historians in future look back at the last 6 years to see how democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction, & more particularly the role of the last 4 CJIs.”

Issues

Whether the above mentioned “tweets” amount to bonafide and objective criticism or amount to scandalous and malicious statement which has effect of scandalizing the entire institution of judiciary.

Answer

Regarding tweet-2

We are unable to accept the contention of the alleged contemnor No.1, that the said statement was a bona fide criticism made by him on account of his anguish of non functioning of the courts physically. His contention, that on account of non-physical functioning of the Supreme Court for the last more than three months, the fundamental rights of citizens, such those in detention, those destitute and poor, and others facing serious and urgent grievances were not being addressed or taken up for redressal, as stated herein above, is false to his own knowledge. He has made such a scandalous and malicious statement having himself availed the right of an access to justice during the said period, not only as a lawyer but also as a litigant.

Regarding tweet-2

74. The summary jurisdiction of this Court is required to be exercised not to vindicate the dignity and honour of the individual judge, who is personally attacked or scandalised, but to uphold the majesty of the law and of the administration of justice. The foundation of the judiciary is the trust and the confidence of the people in its ability to deliver fearless and impartial justice. When the foundation itself is sought to be shaken by acts which tend to create disaffection and disrespect for the authority of the court by creating distrust in its working, the edifice of the judicial system gets eroded. The scurrilous/malicious attacks by the alleged contemnor No.1 are not only against one or two judges but the entire Supreme Court in its functioning of the last six years. Such an attack which tends to create disaffection and disrespect for the authority of this Court cannot be ignored. Recently, the Supreme Court in the cases of National Lawyers Campaign for Judical Transparency and Reforms and others vs. Union of India and others – 2019 SCC Online SC 411 and Re: Vijay Kurle&Ors(supra) has suomotu taken action against Advocates who had made scandalous allegations against the individual judge/judges. Here the alleged contemnor has attempted to scandalise the entire institution of the Supreme Court. We may gainfully refer to the observations of Justice Wilmot in R. v. Almon1765 Wilmot’s Notes 243 : 97 ER 94 107 made as early as in 1765:

“…. And whenever men’s allegiance to the law is so fundamentally shaken, it is the most fatal and most dangerous obstruction of justice, and, in my opinion, calls out for a more rapid and immediate redress than any other obstruction whatsoever; not for the sake of the Judges, as private individuals, but because they are the channels by which the King’s justice is conveyed to the people.”

75. The tweets which are based on the distorted facts, in our considered view, amount to committing of ‘criminal contempt’.

76. Not related to this topic

77. In the result, we hold alleged contemnor No.1 – Mr. Prashant Bhushan guilty of having committed criminal contempt of this Court.

Punishment Judgement

On 31-August-2020, the bench announced the punishment of Re.1. It includes many aspects which should have been dealt with in the judgement dated 14-Aug-2020. Relevant paragraphs are as follows;

Freedom of expression and duty of Advocate

31. It is true that freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution is one of the most precious liberties in any democracy. But equally important is the maintenance of respect for judicial independence which alone would protect the life, liberty and reputation of the citizen. So the nation’s interest requires that criticism of the judiciary must be measured, strictly rational, sober and proceed from the highest motives without being coloured by partisan spirit or pressure tactics or intimidatory attitude. The Court must, therefore, harmonise constitutional values of free criticism and the need for a fearless curial process and its presiding functionary, the Judge. If freedom of expression subserves public interest in reasonable measure, public justice cannot gag it or manacle it; but if the court considered the attack on the Judge or Judges scurrilous, offensive, intimidatory or malicious, beyond condonable limits, the strong arm of the law must strike a blow on him who challenges the supremacy of the rule of the law by fouling its source and stream. The power to punish the contemner is, therefore, granted to the court not because Judges need the protection but because the citizens need an impartial and strong judiciary.

34. The threat of action on vague grounds of dissatisfaction would create a dragnet that would inevitably sweep into its grasp the maverick, the dissenter, the innovator, the reformer — in one word the unpopular. Insidious attempts pave way for removing the inconvenient. Therefore, proper care should be taken by the Bar Association concerned. First, it should gather specific, authentic and acceptable material which would show or tend to show that conduct on the part of a Judge creating a feeling in the mind of a reasonable person doubting the honesty, integrity, impartiality or act which lowers the dignity of the office but necessarily, is not impeachable misbehaviour. In all fairness to the Judge, the responsible office bearers should meet him in camera after securing interview and apprise the Judge of the information they had with them. If there is truth in it, there is every possibility that the Judge would mend himself. Or to avoid embarrassment to the Judge, the office bearers can approach the Chief Justice of that High Court and apprise him of the situation with material they have in their possession and impress upon the Chief Justice to deal with the matter appropriately.”

35. It is apparent that the contemn or is involved in making allegations against the retired and sitting Judges. On one hand, our attention was attracted by Shri Dushyant Dave, learned senior counsel, towards the norms of judicial conduct which also provide that Judges cannot express an opinion in the public. The Judges have to express their opinion by their judgments, and they cannot enter into public debate or go to press.It is very easy to make any allegation against the Judges in the newspaper and media. Judges have to be the silent sufferer of such allegations, and they cannot counter such allegations publicly by going on public platforms, newspapers or media. Nor can they write any thing about the correctness of the various wild allegations made, except when they are dealing with the matter. Retired Judges do have the prestige that they have earned by dint of hard work and dedication to this institution. They are also not supposed to be answering each and every allegation made and enter into public debate. Thus, it is necessary that when they cannot speak out, they cannot be made to suffer the loss of their reputation and prestige, which is essential part of the right to live with dignity. The Bar is supposed to be the spokesperson for the protection of the judicial system. They are an integral part of the system.The Bar and Bench are part of the same system i.e. the judicial system,and enjoy equal reputation. If a scathing attack is made on the judges, it would become difficult for them to work fearlessly and with the objectivity of approach to the issues. The judgment can be criticized.However, motives to the Judges need not be attributed, as it brings the administration of justice into disrepute. In Halsbury’s Laws of England,Fourth Edition, Volume 9, in para 27, it is observed that the punishment is inflicted, not for the purpose of protecting either the Court as a whole or the individual Judges of the Court from repetition of the attack but for protecting the public and especially those who either voluntarily or by compulsion are subject to the jurisdiction of the Court,from the mischief they will incur if the authority of the Tribunal is undermined or impaired. Hostile criticism of the judges or judiciary is definitely an act of scandalizing the Court. Defamatory publication concerning the Judge or institution brings impediment to justice.

36. In C. RavichandranIyer v. Justice A.M. Bhattacharjee andOthers, (1995) 5 SCC 457, this Court dealt with a matter with respect to allegation against the conduct of a Judge. A Resolution was passed by the Bar Council against Judge/Chief Justice of the High Court alleging misconduct. This Court held that Bar Council cannot make scurrilous criticism of conduct of the Judge/Chief Justice and pressurise or coerce him to demit the office. Such action would constitute contempt of court and affect independence of judiciary which is an essential attribute of rule of law and also affect judicial individualism. This Court further observed that, however, where the Bar honestly doubts the conduct of the Judge/Chief Justice and such doubt is based on authentic and acceptable material, the proper course for officer bearers of the Bar Association would be to meet the Judge in camera and apprise him or approach the Chief Justice of that High Court to deal with the matter appropriately. When the allegation is against the Chief Justice of the High Court, Bar Association should directly approach the Chief Justice of India. Thereafter, the Chief Justice has to take a decision. Until such decision is taken, the Bar should suspend all further action and await response for a reasonable period. It was held that independence of the judiciary is an essential attribute of rule of law, which is the basic feature of the Constitution and that judiciary must be free from not only executive pressure but also from other pressures. Individual Judge has to feel secure in view of social demand for active judicial role which he is required to fulfil. This Court also considered that criticism of the judiciary is not protected under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. It was also observed that fair criticism is based on the authentic and acceptable material permissible but when criticism tends to create apprehension in the minds of the people regarding integrity, ability and fairness of the Judge, it amounts to contempt. Such criticism is not protected under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. It was also observed that the Judge should maintain high standard of conduct based on high tradition. It was held thus :“

10. The diverse contentions give rise to the question whether any Bar Council or Bar Association has the right to pass resolution against the conduct of a Judge perceived to have committed misbehaviour and, if so, what is its effect on independence of the judiciary. With a view to appreciate the contentions in their proper perspective, it is necessary to have at the back of our mind the importance of the independence of the judiciary. In a democracy governed by rule of law under a written constitution, judiciary is sentinel on the qui vive to protect the fundamental rights and to poise even scales of justice between the citizens and the State or the States inter se. Rule of law and judicial review are basic features of the Constitution. As its integral constitutional structure, independence of the judiciary is an essential attribute of rule of law. In S.P. Gupta v. Union of India [1981 Supp SCC 87] (SCC p. 221, para 27) this Court held that if there is one principle which runs through the entire fabric of the Constitution it is the principle of the rule of law, and under the Constitution it is the judiciary which is entrusted with the task of keeping every organ of the State within the limits of the law and thereby making the rule of law meaningful and effective. Judicial review is one of the most potent weapons in the armoury of law. The judiciary seeks to protect the citizen against violation of his constitutional or legal rights or misuse or abuse of power by the State or its officers. The judiciary stands between the citizen and the State as a bulwark against executive excesses and misuse or abuse of power by the executive. It is, therefore, absolutely essential that the judiciary must be free from executive pressure or influence which has been secured by making elaborate provisions in the Constitution with details. The independence of judiciary is not limited only to the independence from the executive pressure or influence; it is a wider concept which takes within its sweep independence from any other pressure and prejudices. It has many dimensions, viz., fearlessness of other power centres, economic or political, and freedom from prejudices acquired and nourished by the class to which the judges belong.

Judicial individualism — Whether needs protection?

11. Independent judiciary is, therefore, most essential when liberty of citizen is in danger. It then becomes the duty of the judiciary to poise the scales of justice unmoved by the powers (actual or perceived) undisturbed by the clamour of the multitude. The heart of judicial independence is judicial individualism. The judiciary is not a disembodied abstraction. It is composed of individual men and women who work primarily on their own. Judicial individualism, in the language of Justice Powell of the Supreme Court of United States in his address to the American Bar Association, Labour Law Section on 1181976, is “perhaps one of the last citadels of jealously preserved individualism …”. Justice Douglas in his dissenting opinion in Stephen S. Chandler v. Judicial Council of the Tenth Circuit of the United States [398 US 74] stated:

“No matter how strong an individual judge’s spine, the threat of punishment — the greatest peril to judicial independence — would project as dark a shadow whether cast by political strangers or by judicial colleagues. A federal judge must be independent of every other judge…. Neither one alone nor any number banded together can act as censor and place sanctions on him. It is vital to preserve the opportunities for judicial individualism.”

27. The Advocates Act, 1961 gave autonomy to a Bar Council of a State or Bar Council of India and Section 6(1) empowers them to make such action deemed necessary to set their house in order, to prevent fall in professional conduct and to punish the incorrigible as not befitting the noble profession apart from admission of the advocates on its roll. Section 6(1)(c) and rules made in that behalf, Sections 9, 35, 36, 36B and 37 enjoin it to entertain and determine cases of misconduct against advocates on its roll. The members of the judiciary are drawn primarily and invariably from the Bar at different levels. The high moral, ethical and professional standards among the members of the Bar are preconditions even for high ethical standards of the Bench. Degeneration thereof inevitably has its eruption and tends to reflect the other side of the coin. The Bar Council, therefore, is enjoined by the Advocates Act to maintain high moral, ethical and professional standards which of late is far from satisfactory. Their power under the Act ends thereat and extends no further. Article 121 of the Constitution prohibits discussion by the members of Parliament of the conduct of any Judge of the Supreme Court or of High Court in the discharge of his duties except upon a motion for presenting an address to the President praying for the removal of the Judge as provided under Article 124(4) and (5) and in the manner laid down under the Act, the Rules and the rules of business of Parliament consistent therewith. By necessary implication, no other forum or fora or platform is available for discussion of the conduct of a Judge in the discharge of his duties as a Judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court, much less a Bar Council or group of practising advocates. They are prohibited to discuss the conduct of a Judge in the discharge of his duties or to pass any resolution in that behalf.

29. In Halsbury’s Laws of England (4th Edn.) Vol. 9, para 27, at p. 21, it is stated that scandalising the court would mean any act done or writing published which is calculated to bring a court or a Judge into contempt, or to lower his authority, or to interfere with the due course of justice or the lawful process of the court. Scurrilous abuse of a Judge or court, or attacks on the personal character of a Judge, are punishable contempts. Punishment is inflicted, not for the purpose of protecting either the court as a whole or the individual Judges of the court from repetition of the attack, but for protecting the public, and especially those who either voluntarily or by compulsion are subject to the jurisdiction of the court, from the mischief they will incur if the authority of the tribunal is undermined or impaired. In consequence, the court has regarded with particular seriousness allegations of partiality or bias on the part of a Judge or a court. Criticism of a Judge’s conduct or of the conduct of a court even if strongly worded, is, however, not contempt, provided that the criticism is fair, temperate and made in good faith and is not directed to the personal character of a Judge or to the impartiality of a Judge or court.

30. In Oswald’s Contempt of Court (3rd Edn.), 1993, at p. 50 it is stated that libel upon courts is made contempt “to keep a blaze of glory around them, and to deter people from attempting to render them contemptible in the eyes of the public…. A libel upon a court is a reflection upon the King, and telling the people that the administration of justice is in weak or corrupt hands, that the fountain of justice itself is tainted, and consequently that judgments which stream out of that fountain must be impure and contaminated.”

A libel upon a Judge in his judicial capacity is a contempt, whether it concerns what he did in court, or what he did judicially out of it. At p. 91, it is stated that all publications which offend against the dignity of the court, or are calculated to prejudice the course of justice, will constitute contempt. One of the natures of offences is scandalising the courts. In Contempt of Court (2nd Edn.) by C.J. Miller at p. 366, Lord Diplock is quoted from Chokolingov. Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago [(1981) 1 All ER 244, 248] who spoke for the Judicial Committee summarising the position thus:

“Scandalising the court’ is a convenient way of describing a publication which, although it does not relate to any specific case either past or pending or any specific Judge, is a scurrilous attack on the judiciary as a whole, which is calculated to undermine the authority of the courts and public confidence in the administration of justice.”

In Borrie and Lowe’s Law of Contempt (2nd Edn.) at p. 226 it is stated that the necessity for this branch of contempt lies in the idea that without wellregulated laws a civilised community cannot survive. It is therefore thought important to maintain the respect and dignity of the court and its officers, whose task it is to uphold and enforce the law, because without such respect, public faith in the administration of justice would be undermined and the law itself would fall into disrepute. Even in the latest Report on Contempt of Court by Phillimore Committee to revise the penal enforcement of contempt, adverting to Lord Atkin’s dictum that courts are satisfied to leave to public opinion attacks or comments derogatory or scandalous to them, in paragraph 162, the Committee had stated that at one stage “we considered whether such conduct should be subject to penal sanctions at all. It was argued that any Judge who was attacked would have the protection of the law of defamation, and that no further protection is necessary. We have concluded, however, that some restraints are still required, for two reasons. First, this branch of the law of contempt is concerned with the protection of the administration of justice, and especially the preservation of public confidence in its honesty and impartiality; it is only incidentally, if at all, concerned with the personal reputations of Judges. Moreover, some damaging attacks, for example upon an unspecified group of Judges, may not be capable of being made the subject of libel proceedings at all. Secondly, Judges commonly feel constrained by their position not to take action in reply to criticism, and they have no proper forum in which to do so such as other public figures may have. These considerations lead us to the conclusion that there is need for an effective remedy … against imputations of improper or corrupt judicial conduct.”

The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 engrafted suitable amendments accordingly.

44. The contemnor has tried to justify the averments made on the basisof the Press Conference dated 12.01.2018 of the four senior most Judges of this Court. Concept of equality before law, what is permissible not asto what is impermissible. It is settled that negative equality cannot beclaimed as there is no concept of negative equality. We hope it was thefirst and the last occasion that the Judges have gone to press, and Godgives wisdom to protect its dignity by internal mechanism, particularly,when allegations made, if any, publicly cannot be met by suffererJudges. It would cause suffering to them till eternity. Truth can be thedefence to the Judges also, but they are bound by their judicial norms,ethics, and code of conduct. Similarly, the code of conduct for advocatesis equally applicable to the lawyers also, being part of the system. The Rules of Professional Ethics formed by the Bar Council, though couched under statutory power, are themselves not enough to prescribe or proscribe the nobility of profession in entirety. The nobility of professionen compasses, over and above, the Rules of Ethics. Lawyers, as a class,are looked by the public as intelligentsia, as observed in R. Muthukrishnan v. The Registrar General of The High Court of Judicature at Madras, (2019) 16 SCC 407. The relevant portion of the judgment is extracted hereunder:“

25. The role of a lawyer is indispensable in the system of delivery of justice. He is bound by the professional ethics and to maintain the high standard. His duty is to the court, to his own client, to the opposite side, and to maintain the respect of opposite party counsel also. What may be proper to others in the society, may be improper for him to do as he belongs to a respected intellectual class of the society and a member of the noble profession, the expectation from him is higher. Advocates are treated with respect in society. People repose immense faith in the judiciary and judicial system and the first person who deals with them is a lawyer. Litigants repose faith in a lawyer and share with them privileged information. They put their signatures wherever asked by a lawyer. An advocate is supposed to protect their rights and to ensure that untainted justice is delivered to his cause.

26. The high values of the noble profession have to be protected by all concerned at all costs and in all the circumstances cannot be forgotten even by the youngsters in the fight of survival in formative years. The nobility of the legal profession requires an advocate to remember that he is not over attached to any case as advocate does not win or lose a case, real recipient of justice is behind the curtain, who is at the receiving end. As a matter of fact, we do not give to a litigant anything except recognising his rights. A litigant has a right to be impartially advised by a lawyer. Advocates are not supposed to be money guzzlers or ambulance chasers. A lawyer should not expect any favour from the Judge and should not involve by any means in influencing the fair decision making process. It is his duty to master the facts and the law and submit the same precisely in the court, his duty is not to waste the courts’ time.”

46. In TehseenPoonawalla v. Union of India & Another, (2018) 6SCC 72, esteemed brother Dr. Justice Chandrachud, who delivered the judgment, has noted the misuse of public interest litigation and found that it was a serious matter of concern for the judicial process. He further found that the Court is flooded with misdirected petitions purportedly filed in the public interest which, upon due scrutiny, arefound to promote a personal, business or political agenda. It was further observed that such petitions pose a grave danger to the credibility of thejudicial process. It was further observed that this has the propensity of endangering the credibility of other institutions and undermining public faith in democracy and the rule of law. The Court cautioned that theagency of the Court is being utilized to settle extra judicial scores. ThisCourt held thus:“

96. Public interest litigation has developed as a powerful tool to espouse the cause of the marginalised and oppressed. Indeed, that was the foundation on which public interest jurisdiction was judicially recognised in situations such as those in BandhuaMukti Morcha v. Union of India [BandhuaMukti Morcha v. Union of India, (1984) 3 SCC 161 : 1984 SCC (L&S) 389] . Persons who were unable to seek access to the judicial process by reason of their poverty, ignorance or illiteracy are faced with a deprivation of fundamental human rights. Bonded labour and undertrials (among others) belong to that category. The hallmark of a public interest petition is that a citizen may approach the court to ventilate the grievance of a person or class of persons who are unable to pursue their rights. Public interest litigation has been entertained by relaxing the rules of standing. The essential aspect of the procedure is that the person who moves the court has no personal interest in the outcome of the proceedings apart from a general standing as a citizen before the court. This ensures the objectivity of those who pursue the grievance before the court. Environmental jurisprudence has developed around the rubric of public interest petitions. Environmental concerns affect the present generation and the future. Principles such as the polluter pays and the public trust doctrine have evolved during the adjudication of public interest petitions. Over time, public interest litigation has become a powerful instrument to preserve the rule of law and to ensure the accountability of and transparency within structures of governance. Public interest litigation is in that sense a valuable instrument and jurisdictional tool to promote structural due process.

48. In Kamini Jaiswal v. Union of India &Anr. (2018) 1 SCC 156,the authority of the Chief Justice to constitute the Benches, wasquestioned. Again, in reply, averments have been made with respect tothe constitution of the Benches by the Chief Justice. The question wasdealt with in Kamini Jaiswal (supra), in which Shri Prashant Bhushanhimself appeared. Reliance was placed on D.C. Saxena v. Chief Justiceof India, (1996) 5 SCC 216, in which it was observed thus:“

81. It is the duty of the Chief Justice of a court to assign judicial work to his brother Judges. It was, therefore, the duty of the respondent to assign the second writ petition to a Bench to hear it. By doing so he did not, as is alleged, become a Judge in his own cause. It is contempt to imply, as the alleged contemnor does, that the respondent would assign it to a Bench which would not pass an order adverse to him. It is also contempt to imply that Judges would be so amenable. To plead that the Bench that heard the second writ petition could not have heard it and, therefore, could not have dismissed it and that it is deemed to be still pending is to add to the contempt. These allegations are also aimed at bringing the administration of justice into disrepute.”

49. It was also observed in Kamini Jaiswal (supra) thus:“

30. Though it is true, that none of us is above law; no person in the higher echelons is above the law but, at the same time, it is the duty of both the Bar and the Bench, to protect the dignity of the entire judicial system. We find that filing of such petitions and the zest, with which it is pursued, has brought the entire system in the last few days to unrest. An effort was made to create ripples in this Court; serious and unwanted shadow of doubt has been created for no good reason whatsoever by way of filing the petition which was wholly scandalous and ought not to have been filed in such a method and manner. It is against the settled proposition of law. Ultimately after arguing at length, at the end, it was submitted by the petitioner and her counsel that they were not aiming at any individual. If that was not so, unfounded allegations ought not to have been made against the system and that too against the Hon’ble Chief Justice of this country. In case majesty of our judicial system has to survive, such kind of petitions should not have been preferred that too against the settled proposition of law laid down by this Court in the aforesaid decisions of this Court in D.C. Saxena [D.C. Saxena v. Chief Justice of India, (1996) 5 SCC 216] and K. Veeraswami [K. Veeraswami v. Union of India, (1991) 3 SCC 655 : 1991 SCC (Cri) 734].”

52. We find no justification to make such a remark/tweet, particularlywhen it is made by a lawyer with 35 years standing like Shri Prashant Bhushan, who is an officer of the Court and advocates enjoy equaldignity in the system. In spite of learned Attorney General’s insistence that the averments made in the defence should be withdrawn and regretshould be submitted, Dr.Dhavan, learned senior counsel, stated that thecontemnor is not ready to withdraw the defence taken in the reply. Thatfurther makes it clear that while insisting with the unjustifiable defenceand insistence to go with it makes the entire episode the one whichcannot be ignored.

In Ref: Statement in Press/Media

54. Dr.Dhavan, learned senior counsel, next argued that we shouldconsider the various statements made by some of the retired Judges,journalists, and others. We are not referring to the names as we do notdeem it appropriate to refer those names. The argument is founded onthe fact that the Court should be influenced by the opinion expressed inthe newspapers and other media, when the Court is hearing a matter.There are two facets of the argument. Firstly, whether the Court shouldbe moved by the statement published in the newspaper and secondly,whether, in a sub judice matters, such statements are permissible to bemade. We put a question to ourselves, as to whether the Court can beguided by such opinions expressed on the public platform and as towhether the Court while exercising its judicial duties render its decisionon the basis of the trial made by the media and public opinion. Answer toboth the questions are found firmly in the negative. The Court cannotabdicate its duty and has to be uninfluenced by the statementspublished in various articles published in the media and opinionsexpressed therein. It has to decide the case uninfluenced by suchopinions.

59. This Court has also considered the effect on the cases by pressurecreated by the media in R.K. Anand v. Registrar, Delhi High Court (2009) 8 SCC 106 and Reliance Petrochemicals Ltd. v. Proprietors of Indian Express News Papers Bombay Pvt. Ltd., and others, (1988) 4SCC 592.

60. In the case of R.K. Anand (supra), the Court considered the concept of trial by media in a case which was sub judice. While considering the same, it was held thus:“

 Reporting of pending trial

289. We are also unable to agree with the submission made by Mr P.P. Rao that the TV channel should have carried out the stings only after obtaining the permission of the trial court or the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court and should have submitted the sting materials to the court before its telecast. Such a course would not be an exercise in journalism but in that case the media would be acting as some sort of special vigilance agency for the court. On little consideration the idea appears to be quite repugnant both from the points of view of the court and the media.

290. It would be a sad day for the court to employ the media for setting its own house in order; and media too would certainly not relish the role of being the snoopers for the court. Moreover, to insist that a report concerning a pending trial may be published or a sting operation concerning a trial may be done only subject to the prior consent and permission of the court would tantamount to precensorship of reporting of court proceedings. And this would be plainly an infraction of the media’s right of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1) of the Constitution.

291. This is, however, not to say that media is free to publish any kind of report concerning a sub judice matter or to do a sting on some matter concerning a pending trial in any manner they please. The legal parameter within which a report or comment on a sub judice matter can be made is well defined and any action in breach of the legal bounds would invite consequences. Compared to normal reporting, a sting operation is an incalculably more risky and dangerous thing to do. A sting is based on deception and, therefore, it would attract the legal restrictions with far greater stringency and any infraction would invite more severe punishment.”

61. In State of Maharashtra v. Rajendra Jawanmal Gandhi, (1997) 8SCC 386, the concept of trial by press, electronic media and publicagitation was considered and the Court held thus:“

37. We agree with the High Court that a great harm had been caused to the girl by unnecessary publicity and taking out of morcha by the public. Even the case had to be transferred from Kolhapur to Satara under the orders of this Court. There is procedure established by law governing the conduct of trial of a person accused of an offence. A trial by press, electronic media or public agitation is the very antithesis of rule of law. It can well lead to miscarriage of justice. …”

66. The lawyers and litigants going to press or media in a sub judicematter is another question that is at the fore in this matter. Whilehearing the matter, Shri Prashant Bhushan talked to the press andmedia. The statement which was made by Shri Prashant Bhushan,pursuant to the order dated 20.08.2020, was also published well inadvance in extenso, word to word, in the newspaper and media. In a subjudice matter, releasing such statement to the press in advance is an actof impropriety and has the effect of interfering with the judicial processand the fair decision making and is clearly an attempt to coerce thedecision of the Court by the influence of newspaper and media, whichcannot be said to be conducive for the fair administration of justice andwould further tantamount to undue interference in the independentjudicial making process which is the very foundation of institution ofadministration of justice. If such kind of action is resorted to in a subjudice matter, that too by an advocate who is facing a criminal contempt,it virtually tantamount to using a forum or platform which is notsupposed to be used ethically and legally. More so, in a serious case ofcriminal contempt and particularly after the conviction has beenrecorded by this Court, it indicates that the tolerance of the Court isbeing tested for no good reasons by resorting to unscrupulous methods.

67. Dr.Dhavan, learned senior counsel, fairly stated that in a sub judice matter, it is not open to the lawyer or litigant to go to press ormedia and make the statement. However, it appears that this good sense and counsel by a senior lawyer of long standing has not prevailedupon the contemnor. Dr.Dhavan, also stated that statement should nothave been released by Shri Prashant Bhushan to press or media. It wasimpermissible for him to do so. We put on record our appreciation for the fairness of Dr. Dhavan, learned senior counsel. He has asked us tolay down guidelines for future guidance to the members of the Bar and the litigants on such aspects.

72. The decision in Mohit Chaudhary, In re [MohitChaudhary, In re, (2017) 16 SCC 78] has also been relied upon in which this Court considered Rule 10 and debarred an advocate to practice as Advocate on Recordfor a period of one month from the date of order. At the same time, this Court has observed that a lawyer is under obligation to do nothing that shall detract from the dignity of the Court. Contempt jurisdiction is for the purpose of upholding honour or dignity of the court, toavoid sharp or unfair practices. An advocate shall not tobe immersed in a blind quest of relief for his client. “Law is not trade, briefs no merchandise”. His duty is to legitimately present his side of the case to assist in the administration of justice. The Judges are selected from the Bar and purity of the Bench depends on the purity of the Bar. Degraded Bar results in degraded Bench. The Court has referred to articles and standard of processional conduct and etiquettes thus: (SCC pp. 8892,paras 2028, 30 & 32)

20. Warvelle’s Legal Ethics, 2nd Edn. at p. 182 sets out the obligation of a lawyer as:

‘A lawyer is under obligation to do nothing that shall detract from the dignity of the court, of which he is himself a sworn officer and assistant. He should at all times pay deferential respect to the Judge, and scrupulously observe the decorum of the courtroom.’

21. The contempt jurisdiction is not only to protect the reputation of the Judge concerned so that he can administer justice fearlessly and fairly, but also to protect “the fair name of the judiciary”. The protection in a manner of speaking, extends even to the Registry in the performance of its task and false and unfair allegations which seek to impede the working of the Registry and thus the administration of justice, made with oblique motives cannot be tolerated. In such a situation in order to uphold the honour and dignity of the institution, the Court has to perform the painful duties which we are faced with in the present proceedings. Not to do so in the words of P.B. Sawant, J. in Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, In re [Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, In re, (1995) 3 SCC 619] would: (SCC p. 635, para 20)

20. … The present trend unless checked is likely to lead to a stage when the system will be found wrecked from within before it is wrecked from outside. It is for the members of the profession to introspect and take the corrective steps in time and also spare the courts the unpleasant duty. We say no more.’

22. Now turning to the “Standards of Professional Conduct and Etiquette” of the Bar Council of India Rules contained in Section I of Chapter II, Part VI, the duties of an advocate towards the court have been specified. We extract the 4th duty set out as under:

4. An advocate shall use his best efforts to restrain and prevent his client from resorting to sharp or unfair practices or from doing anything in relation to the court, opposing counsel or parties which the advocate himself ought not to do. An advocate shall refuse to represent the client who persists in such improper conduct. He shall not consider himself a mere mouthpiece of the client, and shall exercise his own judgment in the use of restrained language in correspondence, avoiding scurrilous attacks in pleadings, and using intemperate language during arguments in court.’

23. In the aforesaid context the aforesaid principle in different words was set out by Crampton, J. in R. v. O’ Connell [R. v. O’ Connell, (1844) 7 Irish Law Reports 313] as under:

‘The advocate is a representative but not a delegate. He gives to his client the benefit of his learning, his talents and his judgment; but all through he never forgets what he owes to himself and to others. He will not knowingly misstate the law, he will not wilfully misstate the facts, though it be to gain the case for his client. He will ever bear in mind that if he be an advocate of an individual and retained and remunerated often inadequately, for valuable services, yet he has a prior and perpetual retainer on behalf of truth and justice and there is no Crown or other licence which in any case or for any party or purpose can discharge him from that primary and paramount retainer.’

24. The fundamentals of the profession thus require an advocate not to be immersed in a blind quest of relief for his client. The dignity of the institution cannot be violated in this quest as “law is no trade, briefs no merchandise” as per Krishna Iyer, J. in Bar Council of Maharashtra v. M.V. Dabholkar[Bar Council of Maharashtra v. M.V. Dabholkar, (1976) 2 SCC 291] (SCC p. 301, para 23).

25. It is also pertinent to note at this point, the illuminating words of Vivian Bose, J. in ‘G’, a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court, In re [‘G’, a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court, In re, AIR 1954 SC 557 : 1954 Cri LJ 1410] , who elucidated: (AIR p. 558, para 10)

10. … To use the language of the army, an advocate of this Court is expected at all times to comport himself in a manner befitting his status as an “officer and a gentleman”.’

87. Learned AG submitted that the Court should exhibit magnanimity. Dr. Dhavan, learned senior counsel, invoked the statesmanship from this Court. L’d AG stated that if there is an expression of regret and if the affidavit is withdrawn, perhaps a quietus can be given to the proceeding. However, the contemnor declined to do so. L’d AG also submitted that in Arundhati Roy’s case, it was held that “our shoulders are broad enough to shrug off comments against it.” No doubt about it, our approach has to be like one stated by the L’d AG. In spite of learned AG appealing that it was not too late for the contemnor to express regret as he did in the other case regarding contempt filed by L’d AG and one more chance be given, but that was virtually declined flatly by Dr. Dhavan, learned senior counsel, in the presence of the contemnor. It is apparent that in both the statements made by the contemnor, he is sticking to his ground, and he is not at all realizing that any wrong was done by him to the institution. At the same time, he has expressed the faith in the institution and he has submitted that an apology cannot be a mere incantation and an apology has to be as the Court itself put be sincerely made. He has further stated that he made the statement bona fide and with truthful details which ad not been dealt with by the Court. He is insistent and has no remorse about what he has stated in the defence. He has not gone by the advice of the L’d AG to withdraw the same and to take if off the record. Shri Prashant Bhushan being a person well versed with law ought to have given due weightage to the advice rendered by the learned Attorney General who has pleaded not to sentence him, at the same time maintained that the statements made in the affidavit in reply could not be taken into consideration for considering the case of Mr. Prashant Bhushan of truth as a defence. When seniormost functionary in the legal profession of the stature of the L’d AG was giving an advice to express regret and withdraw the wild allegations a lawyer of such a long standing was expected to give due respect to it. Even our request made to him has gone in vain. Thus, we feel that the simple issuance of warning is not going to suffice in the instant case.

88. It was argued by Dr. Dhavan, learned senior counsel, that in case the contemnor is sent to the imprisonment, he will attain martyrdom, and he also should not be debarred from the practice. He further stated that the Court could not pass an order debarring the contemnor from practicing unless a prior notice was issued to him and an opportunity of hearing was given in that regard.

89. Pursuant to the conviction in a criminal case, the Bar Council of India can suspend the enrolment, if it so desires. It is also open to this Court to debar from practicing in a Court, as held in Supreme Court Bar Association (supra). We are not afraid of sentencing the contemnor either with imprisonment or from debarring him from the practice. His conduct reflects adamance and ego, which has no place to exist in the system of administration of justice and in noble profession, and no remorse is shown for the harm done to the institution to which he belongs. At the same time, we cannot retaliate merely because the contemnor has made a statement that he is neither invoking the magnanimity or the mercy of this Court and he is ready to submit to the penalty that can be lawfully be inflicted upon him for what the Court has determined to be an offence. He has even invoked the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi’s statement, which was made by Mahatma Gandhi at the conclusion of the trial against him.

90. The Court, from the very beginning, was desirous of giving quietus to this matter. Directly or indirectly, the contemnor was persuaded to end this matter by tendering an apology and save the grace of the institution as well as the individual, who is an officer of the Court. However, for the reasons best known to him he has neither shown regret in spite of our persuasion or the advice of the L’d AG. Thus, we have to consider imposing an appropriate sentence upon him.

91. Duly balancing the factors urged by Dr. Dhavan as to the offender, offence, the convicting judgment and the defence taken we have to decide the question of sentence. In our considered view, the act committed by the contemnor is a very serious one. He has attempted to denigrate the reputation of the institution of administration of justice of which he himself is a part. At the cost of repetition, we have to state that the faith of the citizens of the country in the institution of justice is the foundation for rule of law which is an essential factor in the democratic set up.

92. We have given deep thought as to what sentence should be imposed on the contemnor. The conduct of the present contemnor also needs to be taken into consideration. This Court in Tehseen Poonawala (supra) has observed that the said matter was a fit matter wherein criminal contempt proceedings were required to be initiated. However, the court stopped at doing so observing that it would have been an unequal fight. The L’d AG had also initiated contempt proceedings against the present contemnor, however, on the contemnor submitting regret, the L’d AG sought withdrawal of the said proceedings. However, the said proceedings are still pending. In the present matter also not on one occasion but on several occasions, we not only gave opportunity but also directly or indirectly pursuaded the contemnor to express regret. Not only that the L’d AG had also suggested that it was in the fitness of things that a contemnor expresses regret and withdraws the allegation made in the affidavit in reply, which request was not heeded to by the contemnor. The contemnor not only gave wide publicity to the second statement submitted before this Court on 24.08.2020 prior to the same being tendered to the Court, but also gave various interviews with regard to sub judice matter, thereby further attempting to bring down the reputation of this Court. If we do not take cognizance of such conduct it will give a wrong message to the lawyers and litigants throughout the country. However, by showing magnanimity, instead of imposing any severe puishment, we are sentencing the contemnor with a nominal fine of Re.1/(Rupee one).

93. We, therefore, sentence the contemnor with a fine or Re.1/(Rupee one) to be deposited with the Registry of this Court by 15.09.2020, failing which he shall undergo a simple imprisonment for a period of three months and further be debarred from practising in this Court for a period of three years.

94. Accordingly, the present proceedings including all pending applications, if any, shall stand disposed of.

Author’s opinion

14-Aug-2020 Judgement

The author is in respectful dis-agreement of the judgement of the Supreme Court dated 14-Aug-2020 when it is read on a stand-alone basis.

Mr. Arvind Datar, Senior Advocate has author an elucidate article on this subject analysing the observations of the judgement.

31-Aug-2020 Judgement

This is a punishment judgement levying a nominal fee of Re. 1. Rather than the final verdict, the observations as reproduced above are more important and vocal which ideally should have been the part of the judgement of 14-Aug-2020.

If Supreme Court was convinced with various observations as mentioned above, they should have confronted the contemnor regarding all those observations.

PART – II – Possible Solution

Facts of the case

The case in hand may perhaps be an outbreak of the anguish and other suppressed emotions of the contemnor and more so of judiciary in general and of Justice of Arun Mishra in particular who is set to retire on 2-Sept-2020.

The reason to believe is that, invariably whenever a judge retires, he speaks his mind. Refer the submission of Attorney General K KVenugopal in this case itself. Refer – https://thewire.in/law/attorney-general-kk-venugopal-arun-mishra-prashant-bhushan

The reason that a judicial authority i..e. a judge by whatever name called is not allowed to give opinion on the matters which are sub-judice or which may come before judiciary for its opinion. This practically covers everything.

At the same time, article 19 of the Constitution of India guarantees freedom of expression. It inter alia includes bonafide and objective criticism on judiciary as well.

In such a case, whenever there is a criticism, even constructive and bonafide criticism on judiciary, the judges can-not respond to it as they are expected to speak through their orders.Many a times silence is treated as acceptance.

Perception about judiciary

With the wide-spread of information technology, the consequences of this structural flaw have resulted into a perception that the criticism that is made on judiciary is correct and somehow they are not doing their duty properly. Very Recently i.e. in last week of August, 2020, Justice Chandrachud while inaugurating e-Court, indirect.

This perception gets fueled by existence of few bad people [which are there in practically any area] who get publicity.

Following are some more reasons for the same

(a) Grossly inadequate infrastructure / facilities available with Judiciary as a whole.

(b) Comparatively [as compared to practicing lawyers] low remuneration to the judges

(c) In-ordinate delay in delivery of justice.

(d) High cost and time involved in process.

(e) Collegium system of appointment / elevation / transfer of judges especially to high court and Supreme Court which is extremely opaque and non-transparent.

Practical problem

Unlike members of parliament or executives who can respond to criticism, judiciary does not have that option.

Available tools being proved inadequate

There are three important pieces of legislations which address this issue in its own sphere

(a) The Contempt of Court Act, 1971 and

(b) “Restatement of Values of Judicial Life” ratified by Supreme Court in 1999.

(c) Right to information Act, 2000

Available tool Explanation in brief
The Contempt of Court Act, 1971 The purpose is to penalize the person scandalizing the judiciary. Thus the Act can-not by itself create respect about the judiciary.
“Restatement of Values of Judicial Life” ratified by Supreme Court in 1999. Refer following clauses;

A Judge shall not enter into public debate or express his views in public on political matters or on matters that are pending or are likely to arise for judicial determination.

A Judge is expected to let his judgments speak for themselves.  He shall not give interviews to the media.

Right to information Act, 2000 Even the Right to Information Act also has not been able to bridge this gap. IT is so because mere information may be mis-leading unless

a) properly segregated between Facts and argument,

b) ensuring the completeness, accuracy and relevance

c) put in proper context.

As it is popularly said, people have short memory.  It is very difficult, if not impossible to keep track of criticism and answer by judiciary by their judgement.

For details about above, refer to Annexure.

Proposed Solution

There are various websites like livelaw.in or barandbench.com which provide information about the various cases decided by various forums of judiciary i.e. Supreme Court, various High Courts, Various Tribunals, District Courts etc.

Judiciary Commission of India

Ministry of Law and Justice has following three Departments namely

1) Department of Legal Affairs – Advising various Ministries and Govt Depts.

2) Legislative Department – Drafting of various laws

3) Department of Justice – Liasoning with Judiciary

On the lines of Law commission of India, Government may form A commission namely Judiciary Commission of India under the Department of Justice. It may be given specific mandate to address various issues. Since it is a body formed under Law Ministry, question of its publications being binding on judiciary does not arise.

Who will issue directions to this Commission?

Supreme Court, various High Courts and all the courts / tribunals against the decision of whom [e.g. National Company Law Appellate Tribunal] appeal lies directly before Supreme Court will have right to direct the commission to Explain a particular judgement in simple terms and give it a wide publicity as mentioned in para 6 below.

Mandate of the commission-:

1) Periodically [not more than monthly] publish the various aspects of disposal of casesincludes but not limited to

Regarding process Regarding classification
Month of Filing of case

Adjournment(s)by appellant

Adjournment(s)by respondent

Hearing postponed due to other reasons

Date of hearing completion

Date of pronouncement of judgement

Type of Court i.e. District, Magistrate

Geography-wise like district-wise, statewise

Civil vis-à-vis Criminal

Subject-wise

2) A hitmap with colour coding for classification of above information will be able to give performance analysis.

3) Pro-actively inform the public at large about the steps taken to strengthen the judiciary as a whole.

4) Explain in layman’s language various important decisions of Supreme Court and various High Courts.

For example, long back, Supreme Court has struck down section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 which provide “power of arrest for posting allegedly offensive content on website” and still today cases are being registered under that section in police station.

5) Respond to various criticism, observations and opinions about various subjects.

6) All the publication may be given wide publicity through television, electronic, print and social media.

Annexure – Legislative Enactments

There are three important pieces of legislations which address this issue in its own sphere

d) The Contempt of Court Act, 1971 and

e) “Restatement of Values of Judicial Life” ratified by Supreme Court in 1999.

f) Right to information Act, 2000

The Contempt of Court Act, 1971.

Let’s briefly understand the salient features of the Act and its implementation.

Contempt refers to the offence of showing disrespect to the dignity or authority of a court.

The Act divides contempt into civil and criminal contempt.  Civil contempt refers to the wilful disobedience of an order of any court.

Criminal contempt includes any act or publication which:

(i) ‘scandalises’ the court, or

(ii) prejudices any judicial proceeding, or

(iii) interferes with the administration of justice in any other manner.

‘Scandalising the Court’ broadly refers to statements or publications which have the effect of undermining public confidence in the judiciary.

The superior courts (Supreme Court and High Courts) derive their contempt powers from the Constitution.  The Act only outlines the procedure in relation to investigation and punishment for contempt.  Therefore, deletion of the offence from the Act will not impact the inherent constitutional powers of the superior courts to punish anyone for its contempt.  These powers will continue to remain, independent of the 1971 Act.

The Constitution allows superior courts to punish for their contempt.

The Act additionally allows the High Court to punish for contempt of subordinate courts.

The Act contains provisions which lays down cases that do not amount to contempt and cases where contempt is not punishable.

These provisions suggest that the courts will not prosecute all cases of contempt.

As of April 2018, there were a high number of civil (96,993) and criminal (583) contempt cases pending in various High Courts and the Supreme Court.

International Scenario

In relation to the offence of ‘scandalising the Court’, the Commission noted that the United Kingdom had abolished the offence in its contempt laws.  However, it noted that there were two differences in circumstances in India and the United Kingdom, which warranted a continuation of the offence in India.  First, India continues to have a high number of criminal contempt cases, while the last offence of Scandalising the Court in the UK was in 1931.

Second, the offence of Scandalising the Court continues to be punishable in UK under other laws.  The Commission observed that abolishing the offence in India would leave a legislative gap.

In 2018, Law commission of India conducted a review of the same and opined that there is no need for any amendment to the said Act.

“Restatement of Values of Judicial Life”

On May 7, 1997, the Supreme Court of India in its Full Court adopted a Charter called the “Restatement of Values of Judicial Life” to serve as a guide to be observed by Judges, essential for independent, strong and respected judiciary, indispensable in the impartial administration of justice.  This Resolution was preceded by a draft statement circulated to all the High Courts of the country and suitably redrafted in the light of the suggestions received.  It has been described as the ‘restatement of the pre-existing and universally accepted norms, guidelines and conventions’ observed by Judges.  It is a complete code of the canons of judicial ethics.

The above “restatement” was ratified and adopted by Indian Judiciary in the Chief Justices’ Conference 1999.  All the High Courts in the country have also adopted the same in their respective Full Court Meetings.

It reads as under:

Dos

a) Justice must not merely be done but it must also be seen to be done.  The behaviour and conduct of members of the higher judiciary must reaffirm the people’s faith in the impartiality of the judiciary.  Accordingly, any act of a Judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court, whether in official or personal capacity, which erodes the credibility of this perception has to be avoided.

b) A Judge should practice a degree of aloofness consistent with the dignity of his office.

c) Every Judge must at all times be conscious that he is under the public gaze and there should be no act or omission by him which is unbecoming of the high office he occupies and the public esteem in which that office is held.

Don’t

d) A Judge should not contest the election to any office of a Club, society or other association;

e) No Close association with individual members of the Bar, particularly those who practice in the same court.

f) A Judge’s relative should not appear before him or even be associated in any manner with a cause to be dealt with by him.

g) No member of a judge’s family, who is a member of the Bar, shall be permitted to use the residence in which the Judge actually resides or other facilities for professional work.

h) A Judge shall not hear and decide a matter in which a member of his family, a close relation or a friend is concerned.

i) A Judge shall not enter into public debate or express his views in public on political matters or on matters that are pending or are likely to arise for judicial determination.

j) A Judge is expected to let his judgments speak for themselves.  He shall not give interviews to the media.

k) A Judge shall not accept gifts or hospitality except from his family, close relations and friends.

l) A Judge shall not hear and decide a matter in which a company in which he holds shares is concerned unless he has disclosed his interest and no objection to his hearing and deciding the matter is raised.

m) A Judge shall not speculate in shares, stocks or the like.

n) A Judge should not engage directly or indirectly in trade or business, either by himself or in association with any other person.  (Publication of a legal treatise or any activity in the nature of a hobby shall not be construed as trade or business).

o) A Judge should not ask for, accept contributions or otherwise actively associate himself with the raising of any fund for any purpose.

p) A Judge should not seek any financial benefit in the form of a perquisite or privilege attached to his office unless it is clearly available.  Any doubt in this behalf must be got resolved and clarified through the Chief Justice.

*****

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for information purposes only and do not constitute an advice or a legal opinion and are personal views of the author. It is based upon relevant law and/or facts available at that point of time and prepared with due accuracy & reliability. Readers are requested to check and refer relevant provisions of statute, latest judicial pronouncements, circulars, clarifications etc before acting on the basis of the above write up.  The possibility of other views on the subject matter cannot be ruled out. By the use of the said information, you agree that Author / TaxGuru is not responsible or liable in any manner for the authenticity, accuracy, completeness, errors or any kind of omissions in this piece of information for any action taken thereof. This is not any kind of advertisement or solicitation of work by a professional.

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