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Recently the following case has been catching eyeballs where Prashant Bhushan a Lawyer in the Supreme Court has been accused of Contempt of Court by making certain tweets. The Supreme Court has held him guilty and asked for an unconditional apology and given him a deadline for it.

The Bench also hasn't asked the person to explain the rationale behind his tweets as well. Many Retired Judges and Lawyers have condemned this as well.

This made me wonder can tweets outside of the court about the court which a particular judge may not like be treated as Contempt of Court? Isn't this a part of Freedom of Speech?

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Bhushan was convicted of criminal contempt of court. The underlying statute is the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. The definition of criminal contempt (art. 2(c)) is that

(c) criminal contempt means the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which (i) scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court; or(ii) prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or(iii) interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner;

The law clearly is not limited to statements made in court. As Justice Mishra said, "Freedom of speech is not absolute to anyone... to me... to Press. There's no problem in being an activist but we have to say this is the line". Statutes prohibiting contempt of court are restrictions on freedom of speech. If heard and upheld by the full court, you will know more about the extent of freedom of speech in India.

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