06 May, 2021

Small Things Matter

Author-activist Arundhati Roy gets her day in jail and a fine for contempt, sparking off a debate on the court's 'imperviousness' and perhaps a new Cause Celebre
Free Speech: Your Take

Gireesh G.V.
Small Things Matter
Adding yet another dramatic chapter to author Arundhati Roy's life and times as an activist, the Supreme Court last week sentenced her to one-day simple imprisonment citing criminal contempt against it. But apart from the theatrics of a writer being incarcerated for expressing her views in the world's largest democracy, the ruling has made for a test case in which a citizen's right to freedom of expression is being seen as pitted against the judiciary's powers to punish for contempt. And it seems this confrontation, and the swelling debate around it, won't fade away with the headlines this time.

"I stand by what I have said in my affidavit," Roy stated categorically at a jam-packed press conference after serving her sentence and paying up the fine. "Anybody who thinks the punishment was a 'symbolic' one day in prison and a fine of two thousand rupees is wrong. The punishment began over a year ago when notice was issued to me to appear personally in court over a ludicrous charge which the Supreme Court itself held should never have been entertained. In India, everybody knows...

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