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The crime of disrespecting or being belligerent toward a court of law is known as contempt of court. Contempt of Court proceedings may be triggered by disrespecting judges or other legal representatives while in court or by defiantly disobeying a court order. If someone is found guilty of contempt of court, the judge may impose punishments including a fine or incarceration.

This was in relation to Prashant Bhushan's social media statements made against the Chief Justice of India, for which he was charged with criminal contempt of court. This discussion of judicial contempt has several facets. The numerous contempt cases in Indian courts and the necessity to protect and shield the judiciary are the grounds in favour of contempt laws, even though many nations have referred to them as outdated and archaic.

The line between free speech and actions that scandalise the court needs to be re-evaluated in the social media age. The Indian Constitution grants the Supreme Court and High Courts their authority, and the Contempt of Court Act of 1971 specifies the procedure.

The Basics of Court Contempt:

If Akash is required to provide evidence that Sita committed a conduct that would constitute a crime under the law. Then, he must demonstrate to the court whether Sita's crime met the criteria for committing that act or not. He will be held accountable for such act if the conditions necessary for that are met. Similar to this, every crime has a set of conditions that must be met before the perpetrator is held accountable for their actions. The following are some requirements for contempt of court:

  • Civil contempt is committed when someone knowingly disobeys a court order, judgement, decree, or other legal document.
  • The key concept in criminal contempt is publishing, which might take the form of spoken or written words, signs, or other visual representations.
  • A legitimate order should be issued by the court, and the respondent should be aware of it.
  • Contemnor's activity must be intentional and manifest blatant disrespect for the court's direction.

Types of Court contempt in India:

In India, there are two categories of contempt of court depending on the circumstances of the case.

  • Civil Contempt

Civil contempt is defined as willful disobedience to a court's order, decree, direction, judgement, or writ by any person, as well as willful breach of commitments made to a court, in Section 2(a) of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971. These are the fundamentally private offences since civil contempt denies a party the benefit for which the order was established. In other words, a person who is qualified to profit from a court order typically suffers the injustice.

Case Law:

Utpal Kumar Das versus Kamrup's Court of the Munsiff

Despite the court's directive to provide aid, this is a case of assistance not being provided. Due to a number of obstacles, the defendant did not comply with a court-issued decree that required them to handover immovable property. He was therefore charged with disobeying the rulings of the relevant Civil Court.

  • Criminal Disrespect

Criminal contempt is defined as I the publication of any matter by words, spoken or written, or by gestures, signs, or other visible representations; or (ii) the performance of any act, including but not limited to:

a) Become scandalous or has the potential to become scandalous, or diminish the standing of any court, or

b) Biasness that prevents or tends to prevent any form of judicial proceeding from proceeding properly, or

c) interferes, or has a tendency to interfere, in any way with the administration of justice.

Case Law:

Virender Singh v. Jaswant Singh 

In this instance, a lawyer made a scandalous and insulting attack on the High Court judge. A petition for an election was submitted to the High Court by an advocate. In order to hear more arguments in an election petition and to transfer election petitions, he wished to ask to remain. These things undermine the High Court's judicial process and have a propensity to embarrass the Court. In this instance, it was determined that there had been an attempt to intimidate the High Court judge and obstruct the conduct of a fair trial.

Contempt of court penalties:

The penalty for contempt of court is covered in Section 12 of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971. Someone can be punished for contempt of court by the High Court or the Supreme Court. According to Section 12(1) of this Act, a person who is accused of contempt of court may be sentenced to a simple sentence of up to six months in jail, a fine up to two thousand rupees, or a combination of both types of penalties. However, if the accused apologises and the court accepts his repentance, only then can he be released from the contempt of court penalty. Otherwise, the accused may be released or the punishment handed down to him may be remitted. This sentence’s explanation states that if the accused has offered a sincere apology, it cannot be rejected on the grounds that it is conditional or qualified.

In relation to either itself or a court below it, the court cannot impose a punishment for contempt of court that is more than what is specified by the relevant section of this Act.

Remedies to Punishment Order of court:

The Contempt of Court Act, 1971 has been amended in 2006 to include Section 13. The 2006 Contempt of Court (Amendment) Act may be the name of the new law. According to this Section, there are specific situations or cases in which contempt of court cannot be penalised.

No Court subject to this Act shall be punished for contempt of court unless it is satisfied that the contempt is of such a nature that it substantially interferes or tends to substantially interfere with the due administration of justice, according to Clause (a) of Section 13 of the Contempt of Court (Amendment) Act, 2006.

If the court determines that the act was carried out in the public interest and the request to use that defence is genuine, it may grant the defence based on the justification of truth, according to Section 13 of this Act, Clause (b).


Ex facie contempt of subordinate courts is now handled in India in an inadequate and deceptive manner. The overlap between the contempt powers under the Indian Penal Code, the Contempt of Courts Act, and the contempt powers of the Supreme Court and High Court under the Indian Constitution appears to be the cause of the complications in this regard. Due to the contradictory interpretations made by the Supreme Court and High Court about several parts of the Indian Penal Code dealing with interference with the administration of justice and the exclusion clause in the Contempt of Courts Act, the situation has become more confusing. The subordinate court should also have the authority to deal with contempt, in addition to the higher court. When viewed from the perspective of judges and higher judicial authorities, contempt of court appears to be beneficial, but when viewed from the perspective of the general public, it has a negative impact.

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