Contempt of Court and Free Expression - Need for a Delicate Balance

8 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2008 Last revised: 5 Jan 2009

Date Written: December 5, 2008


Free expression is the fundamental fountain-head of democracy. The right of free expression does not however confer right to denigrate others right of person and reputation as such the right of free expression is subject to reasonable restrictions. Bonafide criticism of any system or institution including the judiciary cannot be objected on any pretext, be it under the conferred constitutional power or the statutory contempt law. The freedom of speech bestowed under the constitution and the independence of the judiciary are the two essential and most important constitutes of democracy in a country. Reconciling these two competing public interest issues and maintaining a balance, presents a challenge to any given democratic set-up. Healthy and constructive criticisms are the necessary feature for the development of the democracy. The Apex court as the guardian of the Constitution must vigilantly protect free speech even against judicial resentment.

Keywords: Contempt of Court, Free Expression, Court, Democracy

Suggested Citation

Nath, G. V. Mahesh and Vavili, Audhi Narayana, Contempt of Court and Free Expression - Need for a Delicate Balance (December 5, 2008). Available at SSRN: or

G. V. Mahesh Nath (Contact Author)

Telangana University ( email )

91-09849185215 (Phone)

Audhi Narayana Vavili

Amicus Books, ICFAI ( email )

plotno 23, Nagarjuna Hills, Punjagutta
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh 500082
091-9866706150 (Phone)


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