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Project On

Origin, Development &


Constitutional
Validity of Contempt of Court
Submitted to- Prof. Sadaf Ali Khan
Submitted by- Afsha
Reg No- GU14R0131 BBA.LLB
Glocal School of Law

The Glocal University

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Table of Contents
1. Introduction
2. Meaning of contempt
3. Constitutional Validity of Contempt of Court
4. Origin and Development of Law of Contempt in India
5. Contempt of court- Some Case Studies
6. DELHI JUDICIAL SERVICE ASSOCIATION Vs. STATE OF GUJARAT
7. K.K Mishra case
8. GN Saibaba V. State of Maharashtra.
9. MOHD. ASLAM OBHURE v. UNION OF INDIA &STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH AND
ORS
10. Conclusion

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INTRODUCTION

MEANING OF CONTEMPT
Contempt is an act of deliberate disobedience or disregard for the laws, regulations, or decorum of
a public authority, such as a court or legislative body. In legal terminology, contempt refers to any
willful disobedience to, or disregard of, a court order or any misconduct in the presence of a court;
action that interferes with a judge's ability to administer justice or that insults the dignity of the
court.1

Constitutional validity of Contempt of court


Article 129 of the Constitution of India says that the Supreme Court Shall be a court of record
and shall have all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of
itself.
According to article 215 of the Constitution of India, every High Court Shall be court of record
and shall I have all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of
itself.
Parliament and the State Legislature both have power to make laws with respect to any of the
subject enumerated in list III( concurrent list ) of the seventh schedule of the Constitution. The
parliament has exclusive power to make laws with respect to any of the matters are subjects
enumerated in list -I (Union list) of the 7th of the Constitution.
The state legislature has exclusive power to make laws with respect of any of the matter or
subjects enumerated in list II(State list) of the seventh scheduled of the Constitution .
Entry 77 of the list is as follows-
Constitution, organization, jurisdiction and powers of the Supreme Court (including contempt
for such a court ) and the fees taken therein; persons entitled to practice before the supreme
Court.

1
Miller C.J., Contempt of Court, 2nd edition, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1989, p. 34.

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Entry15 of list II is as follows " contempt of court but not including contempt of Supreme Court
"
The legislature is fully competent to legislate with respect to competent of court subject only
to the qualification that the legislature cannot take away the power of the Supreme Court or
the High Court to punish for contempt or vest that power in some other court.
Article 142(2) of the Constitution of India states that the Supreme Court shall have all and
every power to make any order for the purpose of securing the attendance of any person, the
discovery or production of any document, or the investigation or punishment of any contempt
of itself.

According to article 372 of Constitution of India, all the laws in force in the territory of India
immediately before the commencement of this Constitution shall continue in force therein until
altered or repealed or amended by a competent legislature or other competent authority. That
is why section 22 of the competent of Courts Act 1971, it makes it clear that the provision of
this Act shall be in Addison to and not in derogation of the provision of any other law relating
to contempt of courts.
The contempt of Courts Act is not violation of guarantee of equality and article 14 as the
classification of a founded on the intelligible differentia which distinguisher persons or things
that are grouped together from other left out of the group and the differentia has a rational
relation to the object thought to be achieved by the statute in question is reasonable. As the
existing law relating to contempt of court imposes reasonable restrictions within the meaning
of article 19(2) and therefore, it is not violate of the fundamental right to freedom of speech
and expression guarantee by article 19 (1)(2) of the Constitution.
According to clause 10 of the article 366 the existing law means any law ordinance order bye-
law , rule or regulation passed or made before the commencement of this Constitution by a
legislature, authority or person having power to make such a law., ordinance bye-law , rule or
regulation.
The contempt of law is not violate of article 21 which provides that no person shall be deprived
of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law as the
existing procedure for contempt proceedings have statutory sanction. Section 10 of the

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contempt Act,1971, makes it clear that every High Court shall have and exercise the same
jurisdiction powers and authority in accordance with the same procedure and practice in
respect of contempt of courts subordinate to it as it has and exercise in respect of contempt of
itself. beside this article 225 of the Constitution of India makes provision for its continuity.

ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE LAW OF CONTEMPT IN INDIA


The origin of the law of contempt of court in India can be traced from the English law. This law in
India is nothing but the off spring of the British administration of justice in India. Creation of
different Courts of Record in India necessarily meant the introduction of English Law of Contempt
in some measure.2 Establishment of the Court of Mayor and Corporation of Madras under the East
India Company‘s Charter of 16873 was the earliest Court of Record created in India. Admiralty
Court established under the Royal Charter of 1683 had the right to hear appeals and hence
Admiralty Court was also considered a Court of Record. Later Mayor‘s Court was created by the
Charter of 17274, which was reconstituted by the Charter of 1753. These courts had power to punish
for contempt. In pursuance of the Regulating Act 1773, the Mayor‘s Court at Calcutta was
succeeded by the

Supreme Court established under a Charter granted in 1774. The Mayor‘s Court at Bombay and
Madras were superseded by the Recorder‘s Court at Madras. It was abolished by the Government
of India Act, 1800 and the Supreme Court was established in the place of Recorder‘s Court at
Bombay by a Charter granted under the Statute of 1823. The Recorder‘s Court and Supreme Court
had the same powers for punishing for contempt as the superior courts of England .The Supreme
Courts were in turn succeeded by the High Courts under the High Courts Act of 1861. The High
Court of Calcutta was a court of record in all its jurisdictions and therefore possessed power to

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VIII CAD 382: See also Report of the Committee on Contempt of Court, 4 (1963)
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Charter granted by the Governor and Company of Merchants Trading into the East India, to the Mayor
Aldermen and Burgesses of Madras.

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II Vestiges of Old Madras 1640-1800, 241,242(Charter of 1727, 249).
Re Abdool and Mehtaf (1867) 8 W.R. (Cr.) 32.

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commit for contempt5. In 1886, the High Court of Allahabad was established under the High Courts
Act, 1861 and was constituted as a Court of Record.
The Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court considered this jurisdiction of the High Court in
1879 in Martin v. Lawrence5. Mr. Justice White observed:
―The jurisdiction of the court, under which this process of contempt issued is a jurisdiction that
it has inherited from the old Supreme Court and was conferred upon that court by the Charters of
the authority of the then court of King‘s Bench and the High Court of Chancery in Great Britain,
and this jurisdiction has not been removed or affected by the Civil Procedure Code.
The inherent powers of the High Courts to punish for contempt were later affirmed by Lahore6and
Patna High Court7. Privy Council also accepted the same view in Ambard v. Attorney General,
Trinidad and Tabago.8 These decisions show that the power to punish summarily for contempt
is not created by statute but inherent in every court of record.
Prior to the passing of the Contempt of Courts Act 1926 there was a conflict of opinion among the
different High Court as to their power to commit for contempt of subordinate court. Madras9and
Bombay10 High Court expressed the view that the High Courts could have jurisdiction to deal with
contempt of the Mofussil Courts. But the Calcutta13 High Court expressed the view that the High
Court in India did not possess identical power in matters of contempt of their subordinate courts
as possessed by the Court of King‘s Bench in England. In 1926, the Full11Bench of the Allahabad
High Court dealt with contempt of subordinate court under its inherent powers as a court of record.
For making the concept of contempt more specific and for providing punishment for contempt of

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I.L.R. 4 Cal. 444 (1879).
6
In the Matter of Muslim Outlook, AIR 1927 Lah. 610.

7
Emperor v. Murali Manohar Prasad, AIR 1929 Pat 72.

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AIR 1936 P.C. 141

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In the Matter of K.Venkta Rao, 121, C. 239 (1921)

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Re Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, AIR 1920 Bom. 175.
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Legal Remembrancer v. Motilal Ghose, 1913, ILR Cal. 173

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subordinate courts, the first Indian statute on the law of contempt i.e., the Contempt of Courts Act
was passed in 1926. It was enacted to define and limit the powers of certain courts in punishing
contempt of courts. When the Contempt of Courts Act, 1926 (XII of 1926) was in existence in
British India, various Indian States also had their corresponding enactment. These States were
Hyderabad, Madhya Bharat, Mysore, Pepsu, Rajasthan, Travancore-Cochin and Saurashtra.
Section 2 of the Act, 1926, empowered the High Courts of judicature to exercise the jurisdiction,
power and authority to punish contempt of subordinate court. The Act was amended in 1937 to
make it clear that the limits of punishment provided in the Act related not only to contempt of
subordinate court but also to all cases.

Articles 12912 and 21513 of the Constitution of India made the Supreme Court and High Courts
respectively as Court of Record. Article 225, permits the High Courts to continue the jurisdiction
and powers which they possessed immediately before the commencement of the Constitution.
Though the High Court as a Court of Record had the power to punish contempt of itself, doubt
arose as to the power of the Court of Record to punish contempt of subordinate courts. The
Contempt of Courts Act, 1926 did not contain any provision with regard to contempt of courts
subordinate to Chief Courts and Judicial Commissioner‘s Court and also extra territorial
jurisdiction of High Courts in matters of contempt. So, the State enactments of the Indian States
and the Contempt of Courts Act, 1926 were replaced by the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952 (32 of
1952). Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952 conferred the power on the High Courts
including that of the Judicial Commissioner‘s Court to punish contempt of subordinate court.
Section 4 of the Act limited the punishment to be awarded in case of contempt.
The Contempt of Courts Act 1952 though sound so far as it goes touches only the fringes of the
subject. While its existing provisions should be continued there is need for widening considerably
the scope of the Act.14 The unsatisfactory nature of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952 necessitated

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Article 129: The Supreme Court shall be a Court of record and shall have all the powers of such a Court
including the power to punish for contempt of itself.

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Article 215: Every Hugh Court shall be a Court of record and shall have all the powers of such a Court
including the power to punish for contempt of itself.
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Report of the Committee on Contempt of Court, 9 (1963).

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the government to constitute a Committee to study the matter for the proper functioning of the law
of contempt.
An attempt was made in April, 1960 to introduce in the Lok Sabha a Bill to consolidate and amend
the law relating to Contempt of Courts. On an examination of the Bill, Government appears to have
felt that the law relating to contempt of courts in uncertain, undefined and unsatisfactory and that
in the light of the Constitutional changes which have taken place in the country, it would be
advisable to have the entire law on the subject scrutinized by a Special Committee set up for the
purpose In pursuance of that decision, a Committee was set up on July
29, 1961 under the Chairmanship of the late H N Sanyal, the then Additional Solicitor General.
The Committee made a comprehensive examination of the law and problems relating to contempt
of court in the light of the position obtaining in our own Country and various foreign Countries.
The recommendations, which the Committee made, took note of the importance given to freedom
of speech in the Constitution and of the need for safeguarding the status and dignity of courts and
interests of administration of justice.
The Sanyal Committee submitted its report on February 28, 1963 to define and limit the powers of
certain courts in punishing contempt of courts and to regulate their procedure in relation thereto.
The recommendations of the Committee have been generally accepted by the government after
considering the view expressed on those recommendations by the State Governments, Union
Territory Administrations, the Supreme Court, the High Courts and the Judicial Commissioners.
The Joint Select Committee of Parliament on Contempt of Courts examined the issue in detail and
the Committee prepared a new Bill, the Contempt of courts Bill, 1968. The Bill seeks to give effect
to the accepted recommendations of the Sanyal Committee. The recommendations of the
Committee have been generally accepted by Government after considering the view expressed on
those recommendations by the State Governments, Union Territory Administrations, the Supreme
Court, the High Courts and the Judicial Commissioners.

Art. 129 :Supreme Court to be a court of record.—The Supreme Court shall be a court of
record and shall have all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for
contempt of itself.

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Art.215: High Courts to be courts of record.—Every High Court shall be a court of record
and shall have all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of
itself.

Art.144:Civil and judicial authorities to act in aid of the Supreme Court.—All authorities,
civil and judicial, in the territory of India shall act in aid of the Supreme
Court.
Art.141. Law declared by Supreme Court to be binding on all courts.— The law declared
by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all courts within the territory of India.

Art.142. Enforcement of decrees and orders of Supreme Court and orders as to discovery,
etc.— (1) The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or
make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending
before it, and any decree so passed or order so made shall be enforceable throughout the
territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by
Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, in such manner as the President
may by order prescribe.

Art.261. (1) Full faith and credit shall be given throughout the territory of India to public
acts, records and judicial proceedings of the Union and of every State.

• CONTEMPT OF COURTS – SOME CASE STUDIES

• DELHI JUDICIAL SERVICE ASSOCIATION Vs. STATE OF GUJARAT15


o Chief Judicial Magistrate, Nadiad, Gujarat--Assaulted, arrested on flimsy grounds,
handcuffed, tied with rope, photographs taken and published by Police Officers-
Held constituted clear case of criminal contempt—Contemnors punishment-
Quantum of punishment determined according to degree and extent of part played

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[AIR 1991 SC 2176 :1991 SCC (4) 406]

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by each contemnor--Guidelines laid down by Supreme Court in case of arrest and
detention of a Judicial Officer--To be followed by State Governments as well as
High Courts--Judicial Officer not to visit Police Station—
Except in connection with official and judicial duties and with prior intimation to
District and Sessions Judge
• KK Mishra case
• In this case, the lawyer abused and made allegations of bribery and corruption against
Reference Officer (civil judge) and threatened him of the consequences when he would
come out the court hours.

• GN Saibaba V. State of Maharashtra.

• In this case , the famous author Arundhati Roy in her book titles “ The Outlook” criticized
of the non-granting of bail to the Professor. Justice Arun. B Choudhari, dismissed the bail
application and also directed registration of Criminal Contempt against the author.

o MOHD. ASLAM OBHURE v. UNION OF INDIA &STATE OF UTTAR


PRADESH AND ORS16.
o Willful disobedience of order of Court-Babri Masjid Case-Undertaking given by
Chief Minister of a State both in his personal capacity and on behalf Of his
GovernmentFlagrant breach of undertaking- Personal element shown in act of
disobedience of order of Courts- Reasonable steps not taken to prevent violation of
order of court-Chief Minister of the State convicted of an offence: of Contempt of
Courts-Sentence of imprisonment of one day with fine of Rs. 2,000 imposed.

CONCLUSION

The Supreme Court is vested with the right to punish those guilty of contempt of Court under
Article 129 read with Article 142 of the Constitution of India. The power to punish contemprers is

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[ AIR 1995 SC 548:1994( 6 )SCC 442]

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also vested with the High Courts under Article 215 of the Constitution and the Contempt of Courts
Act, 1971 also governs the punishments given by the High Court.
The contempt power in a democracy is only to enable the court to function effectively, and not to
protect the self-esteem of an individual judge. The foundation of judiciary is based on the trust and
the confidence of the people in its ability to deliver fearless and impartial justice. When the
foundation itself is shaken by acts which tend to create disaffection and disrespect for the authority
of the court by disrupting its working, the edifice of the judicial system gets eroded. Judiciary by
punishing the guilty infuses faith in the supremacy of law and omnipotence of justice. Every
offender is to be punished for contumacious acts under the relevant contempt laws, but it is
extremely important to make it sure by the judiciary that these provisions are not to be misused. It
can be adequately inferred that the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 is of paramount importance in
the context of sustaining the concept of justice. It aides to make the process of administering justice
expeditious as well as upholds the dignity and faith the people have bestowed in the judicial system
of the country. In itself, it abstains from any form of arbitrariness. It gives every organization or
individual charged under the act reasonable grounds to defend it or himself, as the case may be.
The restrictions, it imposes, is just and fair in them. Moreover, it recognizes the equal footing of
all people in the country by bringing the judiciary and its officials within its ambit.
In the Supreme Court Bar Association case the court took a very objective view and taking the help
of law and construing it in the right way came to the conclusion that the power to punish for any
professional misconduct rests with the Bar, whereas to punish for contempt only it has jurisdiction
for itself and subordinate courts. No statute can take contempt jurisdiction away from the Supreme
as well as the High Court.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/3570/10/10_chapter%202.pdf
 http://law.dewaninstitutes.org/contempt-court.pdf

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 http://www.hrdiap.gov.in/88fc/Week-
12/Contempt%20of%20Courts%20in%20India.pdf
 http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Contempt+of+Court
 http://www.lectlaw.com/def/c118.htm
 http://www

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