The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971
15. Cognizance of criminal contempt in other cases-
(1) In the case of a criminal contempt, other than a contempt referred to in section 14, the Supreme Court or the High Court may take action on its own motion or on a motion made by—
(a) the Advocate-General, or
(b) any other person, with the consent in writing to the Advocate-General,1[or]
1[(c) in relation to the High Court for the Union territory of Delhi, such Law Officer as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify in this behalf, or any other person, with the consent in writing of such Law Officer.]
(2) In the case of any criminal contempt of a subordinate court, the High Court may take action on a reference made to it by the subordinate court or on a motion made by the Advocate-General or, in relation to a Union territory, by such Law Officer as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify in this behalf.
(3) Every motion or reference made under this section shall specify the contempt of which the person charged is alleged to be guilty.
Explanation.—In this section, the expression “Advocate-General” means—
(a) in relation to the Supreme Court, the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General;
(b) in relation to the High Court, the Advocate-General of the State or any of the States for which the High Court has been established;
(c) in relation to the Court of a Judicial Commissioner, such Law Officer as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify in this behalf.
(i) The whole object of prescribing procedural mode of taking cognizance is to safeguard the valuable time of the Court from being wasted by frivolous contempt petitions; Bal Thackrey v. Haris Pimpalkhute, (2005) 1 SCC 254E.
(ii) Where an advocate who had apparently no case on the Board of Bench, shouted slogans in the open court and thereafter hurled his shoe towards the court thereby interrupting the court proceedings, his action, both by his words and deeds, in the presence of court amounts to gross criminal contempt of court; In re: Nand Lal Balwani, AIR 1999 SC 1300.
(iii) Procedure of making a reference cannot apply in a case when the Presiding Officer of a subordinate court himself is guilty of contempt of court; Berely v. Xavier, 1988 Cr LJ 90.
(iv) It is always open to the High Court to take action suo motu in respect of a subordinate court; State of Orissa v. R.N. Patra, 1976 Cr LJ 440 (Ori). See also A.R. Rao v. C.P. Rao, 1981 Cr lj 1322.
(v) Nobody has a right to compel the subordinate court to make a reference to the High Court; Jomon v. State of Kerala, (1987) IJ Reports 273 (Ker).
1. Ins. by Act 45 of 1976, sec. 2 (w.e.f. 30-3-1976).