What all we need to know about Contempt of Court?

What all we need to know about Contempt of Court?

What all we need to know about Contempt of Court?

What all we need to know about Contempt of Court?

Today Supreme Court held that bigger question needs deeper scrutiny in contempt of court cases owing to allegations of judicial corruption.

The top court ordered the above while hearing a 2009 contempt of court case against the Lawyer Prashant Bhushan. Mr Prashant Bhushan was charged when he levelled allegation of the judicial corruption during an interview to Tehelka Magazine.

What is Contempt of Court?

Contempt of Court is a legal mechanism that seeks to safeguard judicial institution from unwarranted criticism and allegations and empower the judiciary itself to punish those who are accused of contempt of court.

What is the legal basis for Contempt of Court?

There were laws for contempt of court in the Pre-Independence period too. Some Princely states also had laws for contempt cases. However, during the adoption of the Constitution of India following measures were incorporated with respect to the contempt cases.

1.   Contempt of Court is made one of the restriction in the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression( Article-19)
2.  Article 129 empower the Supreme Court of punish those who are accused of contempt of Supreme Court.
3.      Similarly Article 215 empowers the high court to punish the contempt of itself.
4.     In addition to above, Contempt of Court cases Act 1971 also confers statutory basis of the contempt of court.

What are the different forms of Contempt of Court?

The Contempt of Court law classify the contempt of court into two:

  1. Civil
  2. Criminal

Civil contempt is quite simple and involves when someone knowingly disobeys the Court’s order or breaches undertaking submitted to court.

On the contrary the Criminal Contempt is very complex and involved following three types:
a) words, written or spoken, signs and actions that “scandalise” or “tend to scandalise” or “lower” or “tends to lower” the authority of any court
b)     prejudices or interferes with any judicial proceeding and
c)      interferes with or obstructs the administration of justice.

What doesn’t qualify as Contempt of Court?

Reporting of Judicial proceedings in fair and accurate fashion will not qualify as contempt of court.

Truth as legitimate defence only if it aims to protect the public interest and when the invocation was in just manner. (This provisions was inserted in the Act in 2006)

Also, just criticism of judicial order on its virtues once the court case is heard and disposed.

What’s the bigger question that needs deeper scrutiny?

 Justice Arun Mishra elaborated on the bigger questions. According to him, two questions arises whose answer is sought after. First, what is the process for any grievance against any judge? Secondly, up to what extant any matter which is under subjudice can be discussed in the electronic or other platform.


The contempt of court was enacted in order to safeguard the impartiality of the court, prevent any unwarranted attack on judiciary which may lower its authority and protect the faith of the people on judiciary. In Today’s order, judiciary has taken a major step in order to enhance the popular faith on its impartiality and the case may result in a process which aims to fix the accountability of judiciary of any allegation of misconduct.

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