Narmada Samachar: 8 March 2002
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Arundhati Roy SC contempt case
Statement by Arundhati Roy
- March 7 2002
Arundhati Roy Sentenced to One Day's Imprisonment and Fine Court Says Guilty of Scandalizing Authority With Malafide Intentions Outpouring of Support from all Over
I stand by what I have said in my Affidavit and I have served the
sentence which the Supreme Court imposed on me. Anybody who thinks
that the punishment for my supposed 'crime' 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 that as
far as the legal system is concerned, the process is part of the punishment.
I spent a night in prison, trying to decide whether to pay the fine or
serve out a 3-month sentence instead. Paying the fine does not in any way
mean that I have apologized or accepted the judgement. I decided that
paying the fine was the correct thing to do, because I have made the
point I was trying to make. To take it further would be to make myself
into a martyr for a cause that is not mine alone. It is for India's free
Press to fight to patrol the boundaries of its freedom which the law of
Contempt, as it stands today, severely restricts and threatens. I hope
that battle will be joined. If not, in the course of this last year,
I would have fought only for my own dignity, for my own right as an
Indian citizen to look the Supreme Court of India in the eye and say,
"I insist on the right to comment on the Court and to disagree with it."
That would be considerably less than what I hope this fight is all about.
It's not perfect, but it'll have to do.
Free Speech Campaign Press Release - March 6 2002
Arundhati Roy is a thrilling political icon who represents the coming of age of feminism
The Guardian - March 7
The conviction of Arundhati Roy
When Arundhati Roy woke up at 5.30am this morning in Tihar prison,
New Delhi, it must have struck her that reality was proving stranger
than any fiction. Over the past week terrible communal violence in India
has claimed hundreds of lives while the forces of law and order stood by.
This has now been juxtaposed with the spectacle of a diminutive, softly
spoken novelist being sent to one of the country's most notorious prisons
to uphold what the supreme court called the "glory of the law" because
she dared to criticise it. Images of what constitutes the law in modern
India absurdly collide.
The Hindu [editorial] - March 7 2002
NBA activists court arrest
THERE IS SOMETHING terribly amiss about a law and a legal
environment which imposes unreasonable restrictions on the freedom of
speech and punishes people for nothing more than speaking their mind.
The conviction of Arundhati Roy by the Supreme Court for criminal
contempt is an unfortunate and disturbing development and should
worry all those who believe that the law of criminal contempt, an
extraordinary legal provision which vests extraordinary powers with the
courts, should be used only in the most sparing and fastidious manner.
The principal objective of The Contempt of Court Act, 1971, is to protect
the authority and dignity of the court. The provisions of the Act are not
intended to suppress criticism (even if expressed trenchantly) of court
judgments, discourage frank and free expression about the state of the
judicial system or, as in the case here, to bring `errant' writers to book.
The Hindu - March 6 2002
More information on the contempt case
It was for their sake that the Booker Prize winner, Arundhati Roy, criticised
the Supreme Court order in a contempt case against her. And so when it came to
``Judgment Day'' today, Narmada Bachao Andolan activists returned the favour by
courting arrest in protest against the sentence passed on her by the court.