Contempt of court – 1

The term contempt is defined by Merriam Webster as lack of respect or reverence for something. So the term contempt of court in simple manner can be defined as an offence of being defiant or disrespectful to the court of law.

Law relating to contempt of court

Article 129 of The Constitution Of India talks about the power of the supreme court regarding contempt of court . The article declares the Supreme Court as a “Court of record” and gives it the power to punish for contempt of itself. Further Article 142(2) of The Constitution of India gives the Supreme Court power to investigate and punish for any contempt of itself. Similarly, Article 215 of The Constitution Of India also declares High courts as a “Court of record” and gives all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of itself. In simple words the High court also has power to punish for its contempt.In 1991, the Supreme Court in Delhi judicial Service Association, Tis Hazari Court, Delhi Vs. State of Gujarat, (AIR 1991 Supreme Court 2176), came to the conclusion that a court of record has got an inherent power to punish for contempt of all the courts and Tribunals that are subordinate to it in order to protect these subordinate courts and Tribunals.
The High Courts moreover have also been given special powers to punish for the contempt of subordinate courts under section 10 of the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971.

Types of contempt of court

Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 instead of defining what is contempt, it simply explains the types of contempt as civil contempt and criminal contempt.

Civil contempt

Section 2(b) of Contempt of courts Act, 1971 defines civil contempt as “wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court”. In simple words this means that if there is a judicial order and if that order has been wilfully disobeyed then that this fact of disobedience of order of court will constitute civil contempt .

Criminal contempt

Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 defines criminal contempt as ” means 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) scandalises or tends to scandalise, 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; or
(iii) interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner”

The Allahabad High Court in Vijai Pratap Singh v. Ajit Prasad and others ,AIR 1966 All 305 clearly specified the outlined difference between civil contempt as well as criminal contempt. According to the high court the true distinction between a civil contempt and a criminal contempt is that the purpose in a civil contempt is to force the contemner to do something for the benefit of the other party, while in purpose of criminal contempt contempt is used to punish the person who, through his arrogant tone or behaviour, has dishonoured the court and thus hampered the justice process.

Aishwarya Says:

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