Meaning of Contempt of court
Contempt of court- Contempt of court is the offence of being disobedient to or disrespectful towards a court of law. These acts might include failure to comply with requests, witness tampering, withholding evidence, interruption of proceedings, or defying a court order. These wrongful acts may be committed by attorneys, officers of the court, court personal, jurors, witnesses, protestors, or any party involved in a court proceeding. A judge can impose sanctions such as a fine or imprisonment for that person who is found guilty of contempt of court.
In India, as per section Section 2(a) of the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971 defines two types contempt of court:-
- Civil Contempt
- Criminal Contempt.
Civil Contempt- civil contempt has been defined in Section 2(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971 as willful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other processes of a court or willful breach of an undertaking given to a court.
Maruti Udhyog limited versus Mahendra C.Mehta (AIR 2008 SC 309)- in this case by the supreme court held that breach of promise given to the court and misleading it, was considered civil contempt of court.
Ram Narang v/s Ramesh Narang (AIR 2007 SC 2029) – it has been held by the Supreme Court that breach of undertaking given to the court intentionally, is civil contempt of the court. In this matter the contempt was sentenced for two months simple imprisonment and fine of Rs. 2000/-
Criminal Contempt- criminal contempt has been defined in Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971 as the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which:
(I) Scandalizes or tends to scandalize, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court, or
(ii) Prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with the due course of any Judicial Proceeding
(iii) Interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.
Prem Surana v/s Additional Muncif and Judicial Magistrate’ (AIR 2002 S.C.2956)- in this case, an advocate named Prem Surana used indecent language for magistrate and clapped him Supreme Court considered it serious Criminal Contempt.
Vishram Singh Raghuvanshi v/s State of Utter Pradesh (AIR 2011 SC 2725)- it has been held by the supreme court that abused the judge in filthy language or use indecent language for him is a criminal contempt.
Court Cases which are connected with Contempt of Court in India
In P.N. Duda vs V. P. Shiv Shankar & Others 1988 (AIR 1208, 1988 SCR (3) 547). The Supreme Court observed that the contempt jurisdiction should not be used by Judges to uphold their own dignity. In the free market places of ideas, criticism about the judicial system or the Judges should be welcomed, so long as criticisms do not impair or hamper the “administration of justice”.
In case Auto Shankar’s Case, Jeevan Reddy J, invoked the famous “Sullivan doctrine” that public persons must be open to stringent comments and accusations as long as made with bonafide diligence, even if untrue.
In case Arundhati Roy, the Supreme Court said that a fair criticism of the conduct of a Judge, the institution of the judiciary and its functioning may not amount to contempt if made in good faith and in public interest.
In case Indirect Tax practitioners’ Association v. R.K. Jain, the supreme court observed that the Court may now permit truth as a defense if two things are satisfied, viz.; (I) it is in public interest and (ii) the request for invoking said the defense is bona fide.
In Case R.Karuppan V/s Petron, Chennai Rifle Club, (AIR 2004 Madras 1671)-Using insulting for a judge or publication is Contempt of court.
In Case Re Suo Moto Contempt “AIR 2002 S.C. 1375, – Supreme Court said that “any insult or criticism which wounds dignity of court, by which the reputation of the court decreases in public and disturbance in proceedings of court is contempt of court.
Punishment for contempt of court
Punishment for the contempt has been define in section 12 of the contempt of courts act 1971.
Save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act or in any other law, a contempt of court may be punished with simple imprisonment for a term
which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both
Freedom of Speech & Expression versus Contempt of Court
Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India gives the right of freedom of speech and expression to all citizens.
Indian constitution Articles 129 and 215 give the power of contempt of court to the higher judiciary, and this power limits the freedom granted by Article 19(1) (a).
As Justice Krishna Ayer said, the law of contempt has a vague and wandering jurisdiction with uncertain boundaries. Such a law related to Contempt of Court , regardless of public good, may unwittingly trample upon civil liberties.
Further, (law of Contempt of Court) the assumption that respect for the judiciary can be won by shielding judges.
Summary of Triple Talaq Law || Important Provision of Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2018
क्या पत्नी को घर चलाने का खर्चा और उसकी निजी जरूरतों का खर्चा नहीं देना घरेलु हिंसा के अपराध की श्रेणी में आता है ? || Is not giving adequate money to the wife for her personal Exp and the money to run the household become a part of Domestic Violence?