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Section 2 – The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971

The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971



2. Definitions –


In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires –


(a) “Contempt of court” means civil contempt or criminal contempt”


(b) “Civil contempt” means willful disobedience to any judgement, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court or willful breach of an undertaking given to a court.


(c) “Criminal contempt” means the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which-


(d) Scandalizes or tends to scandalize, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court, or


(ii) Prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with the due course of any judicial proceeding , or


(iii) Interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.


(a) “High Court” means the High Court for a State or a Union territory and includes the court of the Judicial Commissioner in any Union territory.




(i) There are three different sorts of contempt viz., scandalizing the court, abusing parties who are concerned in causes here and prejudicing mankind against persons before the case is bear; In re: St. James Evening Post, (1974) 2 ATK 469


(ii) Courts seek to punish acts or conduct calculated to interference with the administration of justice; In re: P.C. Sen, AIR 1970 SC 1821.


(iii) Comment on pending case or abuse of a party may amount to contempt when the case is tribal by a judge: Subhash Chand v.S.M. Aggarwal, 1984 Crl LJ 481 (De.).


(iv) Judges by reason of their office are precluded from entering into any controversy in columns of the public press; The State v.Vikar Ahmed, AIR 1954 Hyd 175.


(v) There is no special principle attached to the Press to comment, criticize or investigate the facts of any case of the prejudice of the trial of thecase; Sukhdev Singh v.Teja Singh, AIR 1954 SC 186.


(vi) No editor has a right to assume the role of investigator to try to prejudice the court against any person; The District Magistrate v.M.A. Hamid Ali gardish, AIR 1940 Oudh 137.


(vii) It is time to stem institutionalized procrastination, K.V.Venkatesh v. Taluka Executive Magistrate, AIR 1990 Kant 86.


(viii) “The law relating to contempt of court is well settled. Any act done or writing published which is calculated to bring a court or a Judge into contempt, or to lower his authority, or to interfere with the due course of justice or the lawful process of the court, is a contempt of court; Q.R. v. Gray, 1900 (2) QBD 36 (40)


(ix) contempt by speech or writing may be by scandalizing the court itself, or by abusing parties to actions, or by prejudicing mankind in favour of or against a party before the cause is heard. It is incumbent upon courts of justice to preserve their proceedings from being misrepresented, for prejudicing the mind of the people against persons concerned as parties in causes before the cause is finally heard has pernicious consequences. Speech or writings misrepresenting the proceedings of the court of prejudicing the public for or against a party or involving reflections on parties to a proceeding amount to contempt. To make a speech tending to influence the result of a pending trial, whether civil or criminal is a grave contempt. Comments on pending proceedings, if emanating from the parties or their lawyers, are generally a more serious contempt than those coming from independent sources; State of Haryana v. Ch. Bhajanlal, AIR 1993 SC 1348.


(x) In contempt proceedings there are essentially two parties – The court and contemporary; Shakuntala Sahadevram Tiwari v. Hemachand M. Singhania, (1990) 3 Bom CR 82 (Bom).


(xi) The law of contempt must be strictly interpreted an complied with before any person can be committed for contempt; Roshan S. Boyce v.B.R. Cotton Mills Ltd., AIR 1990 SC 1881.


(xii) Any willful disobedience to the orders of the court to do or abstain from doing any act or breach of any undertaking given to the court is prima-facie Civil Contempt; Vidya Sagar v.IIIrd Additional District Judge, Dehradun, 1991 All CJ 586 (588); See also State of Assam v.V.K.Vishnoi, 1993 (23) ATC 581 (587-588); State of Orissa V.Bijaya Mohanty, (1993) 75 CLT 820 (830).


(xiii) Non caring of the warrant issued by the Criminal Court amounts to Criminal Contempt; E.Venkaiah v. Government of Andhar Pradesh, 1992 (3) ALT 193 (199).


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The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971


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