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Submitted by Aadesh Agarkar

Introduction

The Contempt of Court means an act or omission which interferes or tends to interfere with the administration of Justice. The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 deals with contempt of Court. Section 2(a) of The Contempt of Courts Act 1971, deals with civil contempt and criminal contempt.

Civil Contempt

Section 2(b) of the act provides that civil contempt means 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.

Criminal contempt

Section 2(c) of the act provides that criminal contempt means the publication (whether by words, spoken or written or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise) of any matter or by doing of any other act whatsoever which -
1) scandalizes or tends to scandalize or lowers or tends to lower the authority of any Court.
2) prejudices or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding or
3) interferes or tends to interfere with or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner. However the above definition contained in the contempt of Court act 1971 is not exhaustive.

The following are Courts:
1) Arbitrator appointed by the Court under the Arbitration Act and not by the parties.
2) Election Tribunal constituted under Representation of Peoples Act, 1951.
3) Bar Council of India of State and their Disciplinary Committee constituted under the Advocates Act.
However, it is to be noted that the Commission of Enquiry constituted under the Commission of Enquiry Act is not a Court.

In K Shamaroo vs. Assistant Charity Commissioner
The supreme Court has held that in order to contribute a Court initial condition is that the Court should have, power to give a decision or a definite judgment which has finality and authoritativeness which are the essential test of judicial pronouncement. The Assistant Charity Commissioner appointed by Public Trust Act has been held to be a Court for the purpose of The Contempt of Courts Act.

Kinds of contempt of Court


1) Civil Contempt
2) Criminal Contempt

1) Civil Contempt
Civil contempt is taken as act or omission in a procedure involving a private injury by the disobedience of the judgment, order or other processes of the Court. To constitute, civil contempt two main elements, the disobedience and breach of undertaking given to the Court must be willful. The purpose of the proceeding for civil contempt is not only to punish the contemnor but also to exercise enforcement and obedience to the order of the Court. Civil contempt actually serves dual purpose-
1) Vindication of Public Interest by the punishment of contemptuous conduct.
2) Coercion to compel the contemnor to do what the Court required of him.

It has been made clear that when the Courts order to do something or not to do something, it is necessary for a person to comply with that order without any doubt or hesitation in his mind. The excuse that he should consult the higher authorities before complying with the order of the Court can be of no avail when he is asked to show cause why he should not be committed for contempt of Court. No official superior can take any action against any office subordinate for complying with the Court's order. Sometimes the superior officers themselves may be held liable for the contempt if they give instructions contrary to the order of the Court.

In Courts on its own motion V/s N. S. Kanwar The Punjab and Haryana High Court has observed that order passed by a Court of Contempt Jurisdiction is binding on all concern. Everyone, howsoever he may be, is found to carry out the order of the Court. The Court is under a duty to see that confidence of the public in the Institution of the Court is not shaken by the executive authority by their disregard to the order of the Court.

Criminal Contempt

Section 2(c) of the act provides that criminal contempt means the publication (whether by words, spoken or written or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise) of any matter or by doing of any other act whatsoever which -
1) scandalizes or tends to scandalize or lowers or tends to lower the authority of any Court.
2) prejudice or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding or
3) interface or tends to interfere with or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner. The essence of offense is that the act complained off are likely to result in scandalizing that authority of the Court or interferes with due course of judicial proceedings or administration of Justice

In the case of Arundhati Roy, the Supreme Court has held that the defense that allegation contained in reply filed to contempt notice cannot be contempt in view of section 499 of IPC, is not tenable. The law of defamation under IPC cannot be equated with law of Contempt of Court.

Submitted by Aadesh Agarkar

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