SC Announces Stay On Criminal Contempt Proceedings against Author Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy

The Supreme Court has put a stay order on the criminal contempt case involving author Arundhati Roy. The case is in connection with the bail plea of GN Saibaba who is a former paraplegic professor of Delhi University.

The bench led by Chief Justice of India, J S Kehar asked Roy whether she would like to extend an apology for the view that she shared through her article and end the case. This was met with a blunt refusal by her counsel.

About the case, Roy has contended that it is a threat to the voices of opposition and a produced an “intense chilling effect” on the fundamental right of freedom of expression.

Earlier, it was the High Court that had started criminal contempt against the Booker Prize-winning Author after saying that Roy appeared to believe that she was “above the law”. The case was being heard by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court.

“Calling the government and police as being ‘afraid’ of the applicant, ‘abductor’ and ‘thief’, and the magistrate from a ‘small town’, demonstrate the surly, rude and boorish attitude of the author in a most tolerant country like India,” the HC had noted in the past while responding to Roy’s article, as quoted by Zee News India.

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It was in 2015 that the Bombay High Court had slapped Roy with the criminal contempt case for criticising the court’s decision of refusing the bail plea of Saibaba. She had published an article expressing her personal anguish in the case against Saibaba. Saibaba, the DU professor, was initially arrested in 2014 by Ghadchiroli Police who alleged that he had connections with the Maoists.

And on March this year, he has been sentenced to life imprisonment. The professor is 90 per cent disabled, wheelchair-bound and suffers from a degenerative medical condition that requires constant medical care.

“By criticising the actions or the lack thereof, of the Legislature, the Judiciary or the Executive, a citizen is merely exercising his or her fundamental right to express ‘Opposition’ to the government or one of its wings. Such opposition is fundamental to the very meaning of democracy and should be recognised as a basic feature of the Constitution of India. Opposition is sacrosanct and indispensable to the functioning of Democracy, and more so to that of a democratic welfare State,” Ms Roy contended against the December 23, 2015, criminal contempt notice, reported The Hindu.