Gujarat High Court, Ahmedabad, October, 2023 – In a curious legal development, the Gujarat High Court has decided to scrutinize a Haryanvi song titled “Court Me Goli” to ascertain whether it holds the judiciary in contempt. This intriguing case stems from a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by UmakantChauhan, who expressed concerns about the song’s content, asserting that it portrays criminals as being superior to the Indian judicial system.
The song in question was uploaded to YouTube in December 2022, and the petitioner, Umakant Chauhan, contends that it undermines the dignity of the judiciary. The PIL, filed as Umakant Rajaram Chauhan vs VATS Records through owner Pawan Sharma, has been presented before a bench comprising Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Aniruddha Mayee.
Advocate Kuldip Solanki, representing the petitioner, argued that the song directly impugns the judiciary. He brought to the bench’s attention a specific line in the song: “bhari court me b goli marange, meri jaan, matha judge ka b avange paseenedekhiye” (Translation: Will fire shots in a jampacked court, even the judge will be scared and sweat). According to Solanki, this line explicitly suggests that criminals are beyond the reach of the Indian judicial system.
The advocate went further to emphasize that the song incorporates visual imagery that depicts this very line, serving as a reinforcement of its derogatory implications. Solanki further noted that there have been instances of violence within courtrooms across the country, thereby underscoring the sensitivity of the matter.
In response to these arguments, the bench expressed its intention to assess the content of the song before making a decision. Chief Justice Agarwal stated, “Let us first watch the song, and only then can we determine whether there’s a valid cause for concern. We will reconvene on this matter after a week.”
The Gujarat High Court’s decision to evaluate a popular Haryanvi song for potential contempt of court marks a unique intersection of music and the judiciary. Contempt of court is a legal concept aimed at preserving the sanctity and authority of the judiciary by preventing any acts or statements that could undermine its dignity.
Contempt of court can take two forms – civil and criminal. Civil contempt pertains to willful disobedience of a court’s order or interference with the administration of justice. Criminal contempt, on the other hand, includes actions that scandalize or lower the authority of the court, obstruct the administration of justice, or prejudice or interfere with ongoing legal proceedings. The specific sections under which the Gujarat High Court may consider this case are Sections 2© and 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
Section 2© defines criminal contempt as any act or publication that scandalizes or tends to scandalize, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of any court. It also includes any act or publication that prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with the due course of any judicial proceeding.
Section 12 provides the punishment for contempt of court, which may include simple imprisonment for a term that may extend to six months or a fine that may extend to two thousand rupees, or both.
The decision of the Gujarat High Court to investigate this Haryanvi song from both a legal and societal standpoint is set to become a pivotal moment in the ongoing dialogue about the balance between artistic freedom and the responsibility to uphold the dignity of judicial institutions.
As the court prepares to watch the song, the legal community and society at large will keenly await the outcome, which could have far-reaching implications for the boundaries of artistic expression and freedom of speech concerning the judiciary. In a democracy, such a case highlights the significance of striking a balance between the right to creative expression and the need to maintain the sanctity of the legal system.