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Newindpress.com reports:

Several civil rights activists on Tuesday signed a petition saying they were willing to go to jail for making public statements against former Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal.

The petition is in protest against the Delhi high court order sentencing four journalists of Mid Day for writing articles against former chief justice Y K Sabharwal. The civil rights activists said that since they were committing the same offence, they should also be sent to jail.

The former bureaucrats and civil rights groups have joined the Campaign for Judicial Accountability launched by eminent lawyer Prashant Bhushan. The groups are demanding amendment in the contempt law.

Read my earlier post on the topic here.

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A contemptible law

Three Mid Day journalists are sentenced to four months imprisonment for contempt of court.

It seems that Mid Day published articles alleging that

orders passed by Justice Sabharwal in the high-profile Delhi sealing case benefited the companies of his sons,

thus angering the honourable judges.

Contempt of court is a perfect example of a bad law. It is vague, sweeping, unnecessary and against all notions of equality and free-speech. Court directives can be enforced through weaker and more exclusive means, while there already exist laws against defamation. Letting a court pronounce a sentence of contempt is akin to letting the accuser adjudicate the case. Indeed, I cannot think of any other widespread law that is so fundamentally flawed. The fact that the judiciary is the cornerstone of a democracy is no argument; in fact that makes it all the more important that it be possible to criticise and question it without fear.

In the present case, the defendents state that they will appeal the decision on grounds of truth. I wish them luck, and if their allegations are true they should be freed and adequately compensated (and the honorable judge prosecuted). But even if they made it all up, is there any good reason why they should be prosecuted under the Contempt law and not existing laws against defamation?

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