Source - Shutterstock
Judiciary is one of the Pillar of Indian Constitution which was a separate body to implement the laws made by the Legislature. So there was also a need to protect it, to create some apprehension in the minds of people if they break any law they will be published for the same , further if they don’t obey the court’s decision they will be come under court of contempt.
In general contempt means to willfully disrespect or disgrace something. Therefore contempt of court is defined as an offence of been disrespecting court of law and it’s officers. Contempt of court may happen in two ways :-
To been rude , disobedience towards judge and other authorities or causing disturbance in the court even though warned by the judge .
To willfully disobey court’s order.
Court of contempt are of two types:-
Civil contempt :-Civil contempt means not to obey order of court in civil actions.
Criminal contempt:- In criminal contempt if person does any of following mention act it comes under criminal proceedings:-
Scandalising the court by lowering it’s authority
Interference in the due judicial proceedings
An obstruction in the administration of justice
Exceptions of contempt of court
If any of the action done by the person which later proofs that the act was done in innocence, or if publication and distribution of that matter is fair and reasonable for the importance of public knowledge these activities not considered as court of contempt . After amendment of contempt of Court Act,2016 truth in statement made no contempt of court.
One year time is given to fill a case against the action of court of contempt from the date of allegation of contempt of court.
Constitutionality of contempt of court
Under Article 129 and Article 215 of our Constitution empower the Supreme court and High courts to punish anyone who commits contempt of court .Thus represents that disobedience of judicial institution cannot be tolerated, similarly in the Sec 10 of Contempt of court Act,1971 defines the punishment for contempt of court .But sometimes contempt of court is misused by officers to protect themselves under an umbrella which results in taking away people’s fundamental right Article 19(1) Freedom of speech and expression. Whereas some reasonable restrictions are given under Article 19(2) where contempt of court proceedings arise.
In case of P.N. Duda v. P. Shankar Union Minister alleged the judges that they were biased toward rich class people. He also claimed all those who violate FERA regulations or are bank defaulters or are zamindars, find heaven in the Supreme Court. Contempt of court petition was filed against him but he was not convicted. But, in the case of E.M.S. Namboordripad v. T. Narayan Nambiar the then C.M. of Kerala E.M.S. Namboordripad claimed that the Supreme court judges are inclined more towards rich class people he was held liable for committing the offence of contempt of court. These instances per se show the misuse of power by authorities.
A month ago on 29 June 2020 the suo motu action taken by the Apex court against the eminent lawyer Prashant Bhushan who in his Twitter account tweets about the CJI'S . Therefore three judges bench came to take an action against him for disrespecting and lowering the position of CJI in the eyes of people. Case in hands of court right now.
Recently a great debate is going on does we need contempt of court or we have to remove it as it curtails the freedom of speech and expression which is of major role in developing nations. As we see international constitution we find many countries who removed the concept of contempt of court like the USA and Britain from where we adopt this concept .
My opinion is not to remove this concept because freedom needs some reasonable restrictions too. Although their was a need of some relax should be given in court of contempt provisions and it’s should be applied on rare of rarest cases only like the Canada laws on court of contempt.
[e] 1988 AIR 1208, 1988 SCR (3) 547
[f] 1970 AIR 2015, 1971 SCR (1) 697
Author – Jaishree Gautam BACL (NAGPUR)