The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that healthy criticism of functioning of justices and the court does not constitute contempt of court.
A joint bench of Justices Anil Kumar Sinha and Hari Phuyal has ruled so while acquitting journalist Khila Nath Dhakal thereby discouraging the practice of shooting from the hip whenever justices and their works are criticized.
Dhakal had written a news report titled 'Normal date in abduction case' for Nagarik daily nine years back. A contempt of court was filed against Dhakal, the then editor-in-chief of Nagarik Narayan Wagle and publisher Binod Raj Gyawali.
The then Biratnagar Appellate Court had given a clean chit to Wagle and Gyawali but had fined Dhakal Rs 100.
Dhakal, who is now with Setopati, had moved the SC against the decision. The joint bench has also pointed at Dhakal's pledge to apologize if his news constituted contempt of court while acquitting him and stated that the court should not weaponize contempt of court to stop clean, unbiased and fact-based comments and criticisms about the court and justices in the media.
It has said that the court should think deeply before deciding to lodge a contempt of court case. "The court should also exercise utmost caution and patience while concluding whether any news or material published by the media constitutes contempt of court or not to take action for contempt or take decision just like the media exercises self-restraint while publishing or broadcasting any news," the SC has said in its verdict.
The SC has pointed that the Constitution in its preamble guarantees press freedom and how the court also considers the free press to be a pillar of democracy, and stated that healthy review and comments about the court verdicts helps improve the functioning of the court.
Published Date: Tuesday, Falgun 18, 2077, 13:07:00