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The Supreme Court today acknowledged the crucial role played by media in bringing to light corruption in the system and governance deficit under the shadow of contempt. “One aspect needs to be highlighted. The shadow of the law of contempt hangs over our jurisprudence.

The media, in several cases in India, is the only representative of the public to bring to the notice of the court issues of public importance including governance deficit, corruption, drawbacks in the system,” a five-judge Constitution bench headed by CJI S H Kapadia observed.

The bench said keeping in mind the important role of the media, courts have evolved several neutralising techniques including postponement orders subject to the twin tests of necessity and proportionality to be applied in cases where there is real and substantial risk of prejudice to the proper administration of justice or to the fairness of trial. “Such orders would also put the media to notice about possible contempt.

However, it would be open to media to challenge such orders in appropriate proceedings. “Contempt is an offence sui generis(unique in its characteristic). Purpose of Contempt Law is not only to punish. “Its object is to preserve the sanctity of administration of justice and the integrity of the pending proceeding.

Thus, the postponement order is not a punitive measure, but a preventive measure,” the bench reasoned.

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