4 weeks imprisonment granted to an ex-MLA for using slang language for the Hon’ble Judges of the Court

Supreme Court: Taking a strict action in a case of Contempt of the Court for using a slang language against the Hon’ble Judges of the Court to convey his disagreement with the Judgment pronounced, a bench of Vikramajit Sen and C. Nagappan JJ affirmed the impugned judgment of the Kerala High Court and ordered for the incarceration of the appellant for committing the contempt of the Court and awarded 4 weeks of simple imprisonment.

In the instant case, the appellant (an advocate and an ex-MLA) delivered a speech in the public meeting at Kannur, Kerala to protest the hike in petroleum prices, against the order of the Division Bench of the Kerala HC which banned the holding of meetings on public roads and road margins in the State with the object of ensuring accident-free and uninterrupted traffic along such roads. In the speech, the appellant said that “Courts verdict have only the value of grass”, “why should those judges sit in glass houses”, “if they have any self respect, they should resign”, and also used the word “Sumbhan” for Judges.

The Learned Counsel for the appellant contended that the speech does not amount to contempt of Court as  “it was not a prepared speech, but one delivered extempore”, “media has given wide publicity to the speech taking certain words used out of context and has provided their own interpretation and meaning to those words with ulterior motive and design”, and that the use of word “Sumbhan” in the speech is a Malayalam word without any specific or definite meaning, and in the speech it only convey the idea that the judges while passing the judgment have not properly considered the issue involved in all its aspect or the resultant consequences thereof.

The Court observed that certain expressions used in the speech were unhesitatingly and unequivocally inappropriate, and that inquiries made by the Court reveal that  the word “Sumbhan” and “”Sumbhanmar” are pejorative or insulting epithets/ abuses akin to calling a person fool or idiot. The Court stated that the appellant may be excused insofar as he has dissected the Judgment and even for saying that Judges live in glass houses and that Judgments worth is less than grass, since this is his perception. However, it is not open for the appellant or any person to employ abusive and pejorative language to the authors of the Judgment and call them to resign and step down from their office if they have any self respect. The Court further stated that the speech intended to scandalize and lower the dignity of the Court, and therefore requires to be roundly repulsed and combated. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the impugned judgment of the Division Bench of the Kerala HC, and modified the 6 months imprisonment to that of simple imprisonment for a period of 4 weeks. MV Jayarajan v. High Court of Kerala, decided on 30-01-2015.

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    The decision of supreme court is welcomed since politicians speaking extempore need to dealt with sternly otherwise their rampant overexercise of freedom of speech and expression goes unchecked and uncontrolled.

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