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Scandalizing the Court in the Commonwealth in the Twenty-First Century
Communication Law and Policy  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-10-22, DOI: 10.1080/10811680.2021.1963128
Roxanne Watson

In 2014, the highest court of appeals for Mauritius overturned the conviction of a journalist for scandalizing the court in an article that was sharply critical of that country’s chief justice. In 2020, a well-known attorney was convicted of scandalizing the court in India for tweets that were critical of that country’s chief justice. While in Victoria, Australia, three government ministers narrowly escaped charges of scandalizing the court by apologizing for criticisms made of a high court judge’s sentence in a terrorist case. “Scandalizing the court,” otherwise referred to as “murmuring against judges,” has been defined as “conduct which denigrates judges of the court so as to undermine public confidence in the administration of justice.” This article explores the action of scandalizing the court in three commonwealth countries. The three relatively recent cases are juxtaposed in order to provide the basis for the argument that these actions are not only ineffective in ensuring respect for the court or ensuring public confidence in the administration of justice, but also fly in the face of other important constitutional issues such as freedom of the press and the constitutional right to a fair trial. The action for scandalizing the court should be abolished in the commonwealth.