Supreme Court Reduces Sentence in Contempt of Court Case Against Delhi Lawyer Over Judges’ Remarks

New Delhi, India – The Indian Supreme Court (SC) has reduced the sentence of a lawyer, Virendra Singh, in a criminal contempt case. The lawyer had made derogatory remarks against judges of the Delhi High Court (DHC). Originally convicted and sentenced to six months in prison and a fine of 2,000 rupees by the DHC, the SC decided to reduce the sentence based on the lawyer’s apology and the period he had already served.

In July 2022, Singh filed a plea accusing the DHC judges of acting arbitrarily and favoring the accused illegally. He also refused to comply with the court’s directive to amend the plea by removing objectionable portions. As a result, a contempt notice was issued against him, leading to the transfer of the case to a two-judge division bench of DHC.

Seeking relief against the DHC’s judgment, Singh approached the Indian Supreme Court. The SC provided him with an opportunity to apologize for his remarks. The court instructed him to submit apologies to the concerned judges by a specific deadline, with police authorities ensuring his in-person appearance before each judge.

Singh complied with the SC’s order and submitted an affidavit apologizing for his remarks. In the affidavit, he clarified that he did not intend to scandalize a judge and expressed remorse, pledging caution to avoid such mistakes in the future. The DHC accepted his apology and took it into cognizance.

However, the Indian Supreme Court expressed dissatisfaction with the petitioner’s initial apology and scheduled further proceedings. Singh then submitted another apology, addressing unfounded allegations, to the SC. Taking the second apology into consideration, the SC ultimately decided to reduce Singh’s sentence, considering his remorse and commitment to avoiding similar incidents in the future.

Under Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, “criminal contempt” of court includes actions that undermine a court’s authority, disrupt judicial proceedings, or obstruct the administration of justice through spoken or written words, signs, visible representations, or other acts.

The SC’s decision to reduce Singh’s sentence highlights the significance of apologies and remorse in the legal system. It serves as a reminder that individuals can mitigate the consequences of their actions by expressing genuine regret and making efforts to rectify their behavior.

This case also raises important questions about the boundaries of free speech and the responsibilities of legal professionals in criticizing the judiciary. While freedom of expression is a fundamental right, it must be exercised responsibly, taking into account the impact and potential consequences of one’s words.

The Indian Supreme Court’s ruling in this case sets a precedent for how contempt of court cases can be handled, emphasizing the potential for amicable resolutions and rehabilitation rather than solely focusing on punishment. It reinforces the importance of apologies and the potential for individuals to learn from their mistakes and contribute positively to society once they have expressed remorse and shown a commitment to change.