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GK of the Day: What is Contempt of Court?

GK of the Day: What is Contempt of Court?

The Supreme Court has stayed the conviction and punishment of The Shillong Times editor and publisher by the Meghalaya High Court in a contempt case.

In India, the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, divides contempt into civil contempt and criminal contempt.

Civil Contempt

It is a ‘wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other processes of a Court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to the court’.

Criminal Contempt

It is ‘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:

  • Scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court.
  • Prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with the due course of any judicial proceeding.
  • Interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.’

Why there is a need of it?

Judiciary ensures justice and equality to every individual and institutions, therefore, the makers of the constitution upheld the sanctity and prestige of the revered institution by placing provisions under articles 129 and 215 of the constitution, which enables the courts to hold individuals in contempt if they attempt to demean or belittle their authority.

Contempt of Courts (Amendment) Act, 2006:

The statute of 1971 has been amended by the Contempt of Courts (Amendment) Act, 2006 to include the defence of truth under Section 13 of the original legislation.

Section 13 that already served to restrict the powers of the court in that they were not to hold anyone in contempt unless it would substantially interfere with the due process of justice, the amendment further states that the court must permit ‘justification by truth as a valid defence if it is satisfied that it is in public interest and the request for invoking the said defence is bona fide.’

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