Courts, PIL and Legislative Privilege: A restatement of law
Restatement of Indian Law: Public Interest Litigation,
R Venkataramani & SC, Raina, Universal Law Publishing, Pp 187, Rs 280.00;
Restatement of Indian Law: Contempt of Court, KK Venugopal & Gopal ubramanium, CCH India, Pp 175, Rs 225.00;
Restatement of Indian Law: Legislative Privilege in India, Krishnan Venugopal & V Sudhish Pai, Lexis Nexis, Pp 193, Rs 225.00
THIS set of three books on Restatement of Law contains essentially a codification of basic legal principles and case laws, which either explain the statutory provisions or lay down the principles in areas not covered by statutes, which gradually develop into recognised and accepted principles. All these books are published by the Indian Law Institute, New Delhi. Though Restatement of Law may not be a binding authority, it may prove of a higher persuasive value because it is formulated with extensive inputs from academicians, scholars, practicing lawyers and judges. It reflects the consensus of legal community as to what the law is and what it should become.
The book titled Contempt of Court states the current law of the land by considering relevant constitutional/statutory provisions and judicial pronouncements and how to identify and remove uncertainties and ambiguities surrounding the legal principles and how to clarity and simplify the law. The law of contempt does not lend itself easily to codification or crystallisation of principles. It is, by its very nature, highly contextual and fact-specific. The power of contempt is a necessary concomitant of a court. This power must be exercised judiciously – in a manner that balances the need for preserving and upholding the rule of law as well as the integrity of the judicial system, while at the same time, avoiding incursions into the precious right of freedom of speech and expression.
The Law of Contempt is simply the manner in which this power is to be exercised and yet there can be no hard and fast principles for how such power must be exercised in a given case. Identifying certain core principles is therefore a difficult task because it is virtually impossible to account for all the varying circumstances in which a case may have been decided.
Contempt of court can be civil as well as criminal. Civil contempt is when orders and undertakings are wilfully violated. Under this head, the authors examine the meaning of disobedience and the requirement of wilfulness, before examining which parties may be liable for contempt. Criminal contempt is when direct interference is done with the understanding of justice where the act impedes or subverts the procedures of the court, thereby affecting the judicial process. Criminal contempt is when indirect interference is made with the administration of justice and where an act committed against one or more judges covers the authority of the court. This book also discusses the procedure, limitations and appeals before discussing the various Acts regarding contempt of court.
Public Interest Litigation addresses the issue of the lack of any statute or textual metric within whose framework the exposition of law is generally drawn. Divergences even in judicial responses to certain constitutional doctrines and their applications lend room for variegated readings and understandings of the role of the court and the scope of the remedial process. In this book, the broad and seminal principles discernible from a continuum of cases relevant for direct and creative applications have been stated and context supplied. It is essentially perceived as a constitutional litigation involving the weaker sections of the community and the principles enriching the remedial processes befitting the pursuit of knowledge.
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