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Words in the News
Wednesday 06 March 2002
Vocabulary from the news. Listen to and read the report then find explanations of difficult words below.

  Arundhati Roy
Indian novelist jailed
Summary: India's Supreme Court has sentenced the Booker Prize winning author, Arundhati Roy, to a symbolic one-day prison term and a fine, finding her guilty of contempt of court. This report from Adam Mynott:
The News Listen  
  The diminutive figure of Arundhati Roy strode into the Supreme Court surrounded by dozens of her supporters. Many expected that the Court would stop short of sending her to prison, but two hours later she was driven away to jail, sentenced to a day's symbolic custody for contempt of court.

The author, who won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, The God of Small Things, was also fined two thousand rupees, about forty dollars. If she doesn't pay the fine she faces three months in jail.

She'd been in a crowd outside the Supreme Court in October 2000, protesting about the building of a dam. Contempt proceedings taken against her were dismissed, but in her affidavit to the Court she described the charges against her as absurd, despicable and entirely unsubstantiated.

She was accused of scandalising and lowering the Court's dignity, and this led to a second contempt charge, for which she was sentenced. After the hearing her lawyer read her statement outside the Court, saying anyone who criticises the Supreme Court, does so at their peril.

Adam Mynott, BBC, Delhi

The Words Listen
very small (a formal word)

  stop short of
if you stop short of doing something, then you nearly do it but you do not actually do it

if you are sentenced by a court then you are given a punishment for a crime that you have been found guilty of (in this case, a day in prison)

here, the sentence is described as 'symbolic' because the judges considered it important, although it had very little practical effect

  contempt of court
the criminal offence of disobeying an instruction from a judge or court of law

if you are fined, then you are punished by being forced to pay a sum of money

if something is dismissed, then it is seen as not being good enough or important enough to think about

a written statement which you swear is true and which may be used as evidence in a court of law

something that is unsubstantiated has not been proved true

  at their peril
if people do something at their peril, then they do it knowing that it is dangerous and that it could harm them

  Read more about this story  

Other Words in the News archives


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