Rebellious judge Justice D.V. Shylendra Kumar of Karnataka High Court is back in the news after three months’ silence, this time challenging the contempt of court law.
The judge — the first in the country to question the reluctance of former Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan last year to allow judges’ wealth details to be made public under the Right to Information — has asked Parliament to amend the contempt law.
“Judges in superior courts (Supreme Court and high courts) routinely misuse the power to punish for contempt of court more to cover up their own misdeeds than to uphold the majesty of law,” he has said.
“This has proved to be the Waterloo of many right-thinking, courageous persons who have the courage of conviction to adhere to their views and principles,” he said at a lecture in Kannur organised by the Bar Association, the script of which was made available to HT.
Justice Kumar, who was pulled up by the apex court in June for questioning the authority of then controversial Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court Justice P.D. Dinakaran, said corruption in judiciary had led to its “reputation taking a nosedive”.
Justice Kumar, one of the few judges in India to have voluntarily declared his assets, said the power to punish for contempt was “draconian in nature without commensurate safeguards in favour of the persons charged with the accusation of having committed contempt of court”.
He said Parliament should take steps to amend the contempt of court act and redefine criminal contempt. “Earlier corruption in judiciary was not as rampant as it was in other arms of the state, but now the trend is changing.”