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Re: Arundhuti Roy Case

Re:- Arundhuti Roy Case
AIR 2002, SC 1375
Petitioner- Arundhati Roy

Statutes Referred:
  • The Constitution of India.
  • Contempt of Court Act Cases Referred:
  • Re: Vinay Chandra Mishra AIR 1995 SC 2348
  • Re: Harijai Singh & Anr. 1996 (6) SCC 466

Facts of the Case:
This case is a Suo-moto contempt petition which is initiated by the court itself against the respondent, named Arundhati roy, a prize winning author.

During the period of writ petition of narmada bachao andolan, the court issued some environmental damages and have also suggested for the displacement of the communities that were living nearby due to the development activities of the dam or the reservoir on the river narmada. According to the order of the supreme court, the height of the dam should be increased, but the respondant criticized this decision of the court and subsequently started a protest in front of the fates of the supreme court by the andolan members and the respondant herself.

This was led on the basis of the complaint filed by the police. But during the proceedings, all the respondant denied all the allegations regarding the inappropriate banners and slogans. And then with denial, the respondants were also criticized the court for the proceedings. Arundhati roy has also said that, the judges were so busy, and with that the chief justice of our country has also refused to allow a sitting judge to head the judicial enquiry into the tehelka scandal instead that the matter involves national security and corruption in the highest places. Yet they have also questioned the policies of the government and severely criticized the recent judgement of the supreme court, after all this infact the local has also not reacted to this matter. According to arundhati's statement, supreme court was doing all this to save their own reputation and credibility to considerable harm.

On the basis of the above allegations, the suo-moto proceedings were initiated against the respondent for questioning or imputing the motives of the court. Then in her reply affidavit, she stressed on her continuous dissent against the decision of the court. Then she believed that this matter is not only about the court's judgement, its about her right to express her opinions as a citizens as well as a writer also. As a writer, she believes that it is a responsibility for her to raise voice against these cases and claim for justice.

Issue Raised:
In this case, the issue was about the court's decision, that the height of the reservoir dam should be increased and for a time being, due to the development purposes. The nearby residences should moved from there which was not acceptable by the respondant and claimed that this decision was not appropriate and can make those families homeless and was also seeking claim for the right to express one's personal opinions that is freedom of speech.

Secondly, she also questioned the judiciary for their malfunctioned system and also alleged that the top most personnels were corrupted and not doing their job properly.

Thirdly, seeking right to personal opinion does not mean that the respondant or any party have the right to condemn the judicial system or the decisions by the judiciary.

Parties Contentions:

The court has stated all the allegations false, with that they has also said that the banners and the slogans were inappropriate for the masses and this will lead to the misrepresentation in front of the masses.

Secondly, conducting the protests in the way that it was held by the respondants was totally a wrongful conduct and illegal approach in its nature.

Thirdly, every individual should follow the basic integrity to maintain social relation and dignity of the apex court.


Arundhati Roy: the respondant who is also an award winning author stated that she should be free to express her opinion under right to express an individual's opinion or we can say that freedom of expression.

Secondly, the decision passed by the apex court was inappropriate because in the name of development, the nearby residences were ordered to replace from that area, which will affect those poor families.

The court stated that freedom of speech and expression does guaranteed by the constitution of India but they are followed with some reasonable restrictions that were imposed by law, which majorly includes that the basic dignity and integrity of the court and judiciary should be maintained.

Then the respondent's argument was considered as irrelevant and the issue was arised that whether truth could be pleaded as defense to contempt or not. As the reply affidavit was the main contemptuous part of the whole matter as it contains the most wild allegations against the court and the whole judiciary system.

So the court considered that the whole affidavit will not be considered for contempt accept the allegating part of the affidavit as the allegations were questioning the integrity of the court and was also harming the reputation of the apex court and it's judgement. As according to the court, the criticism of the court or lowering the reputation of the court will not be acceptable by the system. And if any individual does so, being having the knowledge that the comments made were irrelevant, in that case the individual is responsible for the honour harm of the reowned institution.

So that the court considered that the statements made by the respondant was totally a wrongful contention and the petition will be considered as absurd, despicable, entirely unsubstantiated petition. As the case was also concerned with national security and corruption in the highest places. It was also considered as intentional criticism.

So, accordingly the court found that the respondant is guilty of criminal contempt and because of that she was sentenced to one day imprisonment and was also imposed with Rs. 2000 fine with the proviso stating that if she fails to pay the amount of fine, in that case she would be imprisoned for 3 months.

Rule of Law:
The basic rule of law that was applied here was that the contempt of court was not be admissible by the apex court if somebody dishonour the integrity of the apex court.

To conclude the above case, the court has taken the appropriate decision as downgrading the reputation of an apex court is not considered as lawful activity and will not be act as a defense in the court of law. Whether an individual has personal rights but every personal right comes with some reasonable restriction that were mandotarily imposed by law.

Hence, the respondent has made misstatements which leads to degrading the dignity and integrity of the court and the judiciary.

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