An Overview On Contempt of Court Law

T.P.C. Gupta

Supreme court has break new grounds when it convicted a Maharastra minister for contempt of court and sentenced him to one month simple imprisonment.

That order as unprecedented never before did the apex court jail a sitting minister for contempt, but that doesn't mean Swarup Singh Naik is the first minister ever to have disobeyed a supreme court direction much less does it mean that the court had to stretch the contempt law to bring a minister under the ambit.

The contempt of court Act. 1971 makes no distinction between bureaucrats and their political masters, though there is a long record of bureaucrats and policemen having been punished for contempt of courts, Some how never showed the courage to hold ministers to account under this law. The count delivering judgment in above case said "This will set an example for those who have the propensity of disregarding the courts order because of their money power social status or post held."

In earlier occasion also Kalyan Singh was also given one days token sentence in Ayodhya case but it was after two years after he ceased to be chief minister. There is lot of discretion in the enforcement of contempt power. The law empower judges to act against tow kinds of contempt 'Civil' and 'Criminal'; Both offer plenty of scope for subjectivity in their different ways.

Civil contempt means willful disobedience to any court order or a willful breach of an undertaking given to court, Thus both Naik and Kalyan singh were punished for committing civil contempt. The court has discretion to discharge the accused or remit the punishment on an apology being made to the satisfaction of court. Criminal contempt is even more subjective as it relates to any communication that scandalizes the court or interferes with the administration of justice. The Constitution recognizes contempt as one of the reasonable restrictions on free speech and expression. The supreme courts discretion to convict Zahira Sheikh for her flip flop under oath in best bakery case is a recent instance of criminal contempt.

There can be no objective standards to determining whether a certain statement scandalize the court or can pass off as a bonafide criticism. The UPA government took a small step in that direction and amended the law in order to provide truth as defence against contempt charge. The constitutional review committee recommended that constitution itself would have to be amended to bind the apex court to accept truth as defence in contempt cases.


अभिभाषक वाणी परिवार

श्री सुशील कुमार त्रिपाठी
(प्रधान संपादक)

श्री शकील अहमद सिद्दीकी

श्री ताराचंद शर्मा
(प्रबंध संपादक)

सलाहकार मंडल

सर्वश्री जनार्दन प्रसाद शर्मा, संतोष चतुर्वेदी, बृजेन्द्र गुप्ता, रामेश्वर प्रजापति, सुदर्शन महलवार, समीर त्रिपाठी, नवजीत कुमार रमन, राजेश महाडिक, सुश्री कंचनबाला सिंह, शिव प्रसाद कापसे, टी.पी.सी.गुप्ता, भारत स्वर्णकार, मो.सगीर, मुरली देवांगन, यजवेन्द्र सिंह, सुभाष सतपथी, मो. मुनीर एवं कुमारी किलेश्वरी शांडिल्य।

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