The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.

[ Act 70 of 1971 ]

[ 24th December, 1971] An Act to define and limit the powers of certain courts in punishing contempt’s of courts and to regulate their procedure in relation thereto

   Be it enacted by Parliament in the Twenty-second Year of the Republic of India as follows:-

Section - 1:- Short title and extent:- (1) This Act may be called the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.

(2)  It extends to the whole of India:

       Provided that it shall not apply to the State of Jammu and Kashmir except to the extent to which the provisions of this Act relate to contempt of the Supreme Court.

Section-2:-  Definitions:- In this Act, Unless the context otherwise requires,-

Section 2 Definitions :- In this Act, unless the contex otherwise requires-
(a) “contempt of court” means civil contempt or criminal contempt:

NOTES

Preamble:- The power to punish for contempt is to be sparingly used and should be used only for protecting the interest of administration of justice. Bathina Ramakrishna Reddy v. State of Madras, AIR 1952 SC 149.

     The object of contempt proceedings is not to afford protection to judges personally from imputations to which they may be exposed as individuals; it is intended to be a protection to the public whose interests would be very much affected if by the act or conduct of any party, the authority of the Court is lowered and the sense of confidence which people have in the administration of justice by it is weakened. Brahma Prakash Sharma v. State of U.P., AIR 1954 SC 10.    

         Ordinarily a court will not initiate proceedings for commitment for contempt where there is a mere technical contempt. P.C. Sen, Re, AIR 1970 SC 1821.

     The proceedings in the contempt are quasi-criminal in nature. The law of contempt has to be strictly interpreted and the requirements of the law must be strictly complied with before any person can be committed for contempt. Rosnan Sam Boyce v. B.R. Cotton Mills Ltd., (1990) 2 SCC 636.

S. 2(a) – “Court” – Meaning – Decision or a definitive judgment having finality and authoritativeness are the essential tests of a judicial pronouncement, and this constitutes “Court” in strict sense of the term. Brajnandan Sinha v. Jyoti Narain, AIR 1956 SC 66.
S. 2(a) – “Court” – Meaning and scope.- Before a person or persons can be said to constitute a court, it must be held that they derive their powers from the State and are exercising the judicial powers of the State. Bharat Bank Ltd. v. Employees, AIR 1950 SC 188. 

      As intention of the contemner to cause those consequences is not a necessary ingredient of contempt of court and it is enough to show that this act was calculated to obstruct or interfere with the due course of justice and administration of law, there would be quite a number of cases wherein the contempt alleged would be of a technical nature. Sammbhu Nath Jha v. Kedar Prasad Sinha, (1972) 1 SCC 573, 577: 1972 SCC (Cri) 337 .

      The absence of a precedent should not preclude an act being held to be contempt of court. The absence of precedent should however put the court on guard that the area of contempt is not being unduly expanded. Baradakanta Mishra, Ex-Commissioner of Endowments v. Bhimsen Dixit, (1973) 1 SCC 446, 449: 1973 SCC (Crl) 360.

      Contempt of court I a serious matter and a High Court should be chary of finding a judicial officer guilty of contempt of court for disobeying its orders unless there is unimpeachable evidence that the judicial officer had knowledge of the order of the High Court. Bunna Prasad v. State of U.P., (1969) 1 SCR 115, 121 : AIR 1968 SC 1348, 1351.

Section 2 (b):-   “civil contempt” means willful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court or willful breach of an undertaking given to a court ;

NOTES

S. 2(b) – Civil contempt – Failure to honour undertaking given to Court on the basis of which the matter was compromised and settled, held, amounts to civil contempt on showing of willful disobedience of the order of the Court. Pushpaben v. Narandas V. Badiani, (1979) 2 SCC 349: 1976 SCC (Cri) 511.

S.2(b) – Contempt of court – Meaning of – Contempt of court is disobedience to the court, by acting in opposition to the authority, justice and dignity thereof. It signifies a willful disregard or disobedience of the court’s order, it also signifies such conduct as tends to bring the authority of the court and the administration of law into disrepute. Baradakanta Misra v. Bhimsen Dixit, (1973) 1 SCC 446: 1973 SCC (Cri) 360.
S. 2(b)- Contempt proceedings – Nature of -  The proceedings in the contempt are quasi-criminal in nature. The law of contempt has to be strictly interpreted and the requirements of that law must be strictly complied with before any person can be committed for contempt. Rosnan Sam Boyce v. B.R. Cotton Mills Ltd., (1990) 2 SCC 636.
S. 2(b)-Intentional disobedience .-  Before a subordinate court can be found guilty disobeying the order of the superior court and thus to have committed contempt of court, it is necessary to show that the disobedience was intentional. There is no room for inferring an intention to disobey an order unless the person charged had knowledge of the order. If what a subordinate court has done is in utter ignorance of an order of a superior court, it would clearly not amount to a contempt of court at ll. There may perhaps be a case where an order disobeyed could be reasonabl construed in two ways and the subordinate court construed it in one of those ways but in a way different from that intended by the superior court. Surely, it cannot be said that disobedience of the order by the subordinate court was contempt of the superior court. There may possibly be a case where disobedience is accidental. If that is so, there would be no contempt. What is, therefore, necessary to establish in a case of this kind is that the subordinate court knew of the order of the High Court and that knowing the order it disobeyed it. The knowledge must, however, be obtained from a source which is either authorized or otherwise authentic. B.K. Kar v. Chief Justice and Justices of   Orissa High Court, AIR 1961 SC 1367.

S. 2(b) – High Court decision must be obeyed by tribunals and subordinate courts within its superintendence. East India Commercial Co. Ltd. v. Collector of Customs, AIR 1962 SC 1893.

Section 2 (c) :- “criminal contempt” means the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which-

(i)                   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;

NOTES

        As regards S. 2(c) defining “Criminal Contempt” the terminology used in the definition is borrowed from the English Law of Contempt and embodies concepts which are familiar to that Law which, by and large, was applied in India. The expressions “scandalize”, “lowering the authority of the Court”, “interference”, “obstruction” and “administration of Justice” have all gone into the legal currency of our subcontinent and have to be understood in the sense in which they have been so far understood by our Courts with the aid of the English Law, where necessary. Baradakanta Mishra v. Registrar of Orissa High Court, (1974) 1 SCC 374 : 1974 SCC (Cri) 128.

    An intention to interfere with the proper administration of justice is not an essential ingredient of the offence of contempt of court and it is enough if the action complained of is inherently likely so to interfere. Pritam Pal v. High Court of M.P., 1993 Supp (1) SCC 529 : 1993 SCC (Cri) 356.

   Deliberately and willfully making a false or a misleading or a wrong statement by a party to the proceedings to obtain  a favourable order would amount to ‘criminal contempt’ Afzal v. State of Haryana, (1996) 7 SCC 397.

   In a case of criminal contempt, intention or motive is not the criterion. Of course, they may be considered for a mitigation or aggravation of sentence as the case may be. Delhi Development Authority v. Skipper Construction, (1995) 3 SCC 507 : 1995 Cri LJ 2107.

   The broad test to be applied in cases of criminal contempt is whether the act complained of was calculated to obstruct or had an intrinsic tendency to interfere with the course of justice and the due administration of law. The standard of proof required to establish a charge of “criminal contempt” is the same as in any other criminal proceeding. S. Abdul Karim v. M.K. Prakash, (1976) 1 SCC 975: 1976 SCC (Cri) 217.

     Scandalizing the Court or Judge, undermining or tending to undermining or tending to undermine people’s confidence in administration of Justice and bringing or tending to bring the Court into disrepute disrespect tantamount to criminal contempt. Punishment for the contempt intended to prevent undue interference with administration of justice. Scurrilous attack on a Judge questioning his authority would amount to contempt. D.C. Saxena (Dr) v. Hon’ble The Chief Justice of India, (1996) 5 SCC 216.

    Reasonable and fair criticism of the judicial system and judges, not interfering with administration of justice and not bringing the administration of justice into disrepute, does not constitute criminal contempt. Speech delivered by Law Minister in a seminar organized by bar council, expressing his critical views in respect of Supreme Court, held on facts, though at places intemperate, but reading the speech as a whole and having regard to the select audience, it did not constitute any contempt of the Supreme Court. P. N. Duda v. P. Shiv Shanker, (1988) 3 SCC 167 : 1988 SCC (Cri) 589.

S. 2(c)(i) – Word “obstruction”.- Sub-clause (i) of S. 2(c) refers to one species of contempt of which “obstruction” is an important element. Under sub-clause (i) scandalous attacks upon the Judges on the principle that they are against the public, not the Judge, are an obstruction to public justice. Sub-clause (i) includes cases when by publication of the act the administration of justice is held to ridicule and contempt. This is regarded as an “obstruction” of public justice whereby the authority of the Court is undermined (Per Ray, C.J., Palekar and Chandrachud, JJ.). Baradakanta Mishra v. Registrar of Orissa High Court, (1974) 1 SCC 374 : 1974 SCC (Cri) 128.
S. 2(c)-Criminal contempt – Scandalizing Judges – Nature of.- The “scandalizing” might manifest itself in various ways but in substance it is an attack on individual Judges or the court as a whole with or without reference to particular cases casting unwarranted and defamatory aspersions upon the character and ability of the Judges. Such conduct is punished as contempt for this reason that it tends to create distrust in the popular mind and impair the confidence of people in the court which are of prime importance to the litigants in the protection of their rights and liberties. Brahma Prakash Sharma v. State of U.P., AIR 1954   SC 10.

S. 2(c) (iii) – Interfering or obstructing administration of justice –What constitutes.-  If a wrong or misleading statement is deliberately and willfully made by a party to a litigation with a view to obtain a favourable order, it would prejudice or interfere with due course of the judicial proceeding and thus amount to contempt of court. But that must be established. Allegation for contempt cannot stand if based on an incorrect report published in a newspaper. Naraindas v. Govt. of M.P., (1975) 3 SCC 31 : 1974 SCC (Cri) 727.

(d)     “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.

Section- 3. Innocent publication and distribution of matter not contempt.- (1) A person shall not be guilty of contempt of court on the ground that he has published (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations, or otherwise) any matter which interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends  to obstruct, the course of justice in connection with any civil or criminal proceeding pending at the time of publication, if at that time he had no reasonable grounds for believing that the proceeding was pending.  

(2)      Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this Act or any other law for the time being in force, the publication of any such matter as is mentioned in sub-section (1) in connection with any civil or criminal proceeding which is not pending at the time of publication shall not be deemed to constitute contempt of court.

(3)     A person shall not be guilty of contempt of court on the ground that he has distributed a publication containing any such matter as is mentioned in sub-section (1), if at the time of distribution he had no reasonable grounds for believing that it contained or was likely to contain any such matter as aforesaid:

Provided that this sub-section shall not apply in respect of the distribution of –

(i)                   any publication which is a book or paper printed or published other wise than in conformity with the rules contained in Section 3 of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867 (25 of 1867) ;

(ii)                 any publication which is a newspaper published otherwise than in conformity with the

Explanation :- For the purposes of this section, a judicial proceeding –

(a) is said to be pending -

(A)   in the case of a civil proceeding, when it is instituted by the filing of a plaint or otherwise.

(B)   In the case of a criminal proceeding under the code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 ( 5 of  1898), or any other law-

(i)     where it relates to the commission of an offence, when the charge-sheet or challan is filed, or when the court issues summons or warrant, as the case may be, against the accused, and

(ii)    in any other case, when the court takes cognizance of the matter to which the proceeding relates, and in the case of a civil or criminal proceeding, shall be deemed to continue to be pending until it is heard any finally decided, that is to say, in a case where an appeal or revision is competent, until the appeal or revision is heard and finally decided or, where no appeal or revision is preferred, until the period of limitation prescribed for such appeal or revision has expired ;

(b) which has been heard and finally decided shall not be deemed to be pending merely by reason of the fact that proceedings for the execution of the decree, order or sentence passed therein are pending.

Section-4:- Fair and accurate report of judicial proceeding not contempt.-  Subject to the provisions contained in Section 7, a person shall not be guilty of contempt of court for publishing a fair and accurate report of a judicial proceeding or any stage thereof.
Section-5:- Fair criticism of judicial act not contempt.- A person shall not be guilty of contempt of court for publishing any fair comment on the merits of any case which has been heard and finally decided.

NOTES

   Criticism of court when transgresses the limits of fair and bonafide criticism, held, amounts to contempt of court. Contempt of Courts Act, 1926, S.I. Aswini Kumar Ghose v. Arbinda Bose, (1953) SCR 215, 217 : AIR 1953 SC 75, 76.

   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 contempt of court. any episode in the administration of justice may, however, be publicly or privately criticized, provided that the criticism is fair and temperate and made in good faith. The absence of any intention to refer to a court is a material point in favour of  a person alleged to be in contempt. Thakur Jugal Kishore Sinha v. Sitamarhi Central Coop. Bank Ltd., AIR 1967 SC 1494.

Section-6:- Complaint against presiding officers of subordinate courts when not contempt.-  A person shall not be guilty of contempt of court in respect of any statement made by him in good faith concerning the presiding officer of any subordinate court to-

(a)    any other subordinate court, or

(b)   the High Court, to which it is subordinate.

Explanation.- In this section, “subordinate court” means any court subordinate to a High Court.

Section-7:- Publication of information relating to proceedings in chambers or in camera not contempt except in certain cases.-  (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, a person shall not be guilty of contempt of court for publishing a fair and accurate report of a judicial proceeding before any court sitting in chambers or in camera except in the following cases, that is to say,-

(a)    where the publication is contrary to the provisions of any enactment for the time being in force ;

(b)   where the court, on grounds of public policy or in exercise of any power vested in it, expressly prohibits the publication of all information relating to the proceeding or of information of the description which is published;

(c)    where the court sits in chambers or in camera for reasons connected with public order or the security of the State, the publication of information relating to those proceedings ;

(d)   where the information relates to a secret process, discovery or invention which is an issue in the proceedings.

(2)  Without prejudice to the provisions contained in sub-section (1), a person shall not be guilty of contempt of court for publishing the text or fair and accurate summary of the whole, or any part of an order made by a court sitting in chambers or in camera, unless the court has expressly prohibited the publication thereof on grounds of public policy, or for reasons connected with public order or the security of the State, or on the ground that it contains information relating to a secret process, discovery or invention, or in exercise of any power vested in it.

Section –8:- Other defences not affected.-  Nothing contained in this Act shall be construed as implying that any other defence which would have been a valid defence in any proceedings for contempt of court has ceased to be available merely by reason of the provisions of this Act.
Section-9:- Act not to imply enlargement of scope of contempt.-  Nothing contained in this Act shall be construed as implying that any disobedience, breach, publication or other act is punishable as contempt of court which would not be so punishable apart from this Act.

Section –10:- Power of High Court to punish contempt’s of subordinate courts .- Every High Court shall have and exercise the same jurisdiction, power and authority, in accordance with the same procedure and practice, in respect of contempts of courts subordinate to it as it has and exercises in respect of contempts of itself :

   Provided that no High Court shall take cognizance of a contempt alleged to have been committed in respect of a court subordinate to it where such contempt is an offence punishable under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (45 of 1860).

NOTES

        The word “court” was not defined in the Act and the expression “ courts subordinate to the High Courts” would ‘prima facie’ mean the Courts of law subordinate to the High Courts in the hierarchy of courts established for the purpose of administration of justice throughout the Union Brajnandan Sinha v. Jyoti Narain, (1955) 2 SCR 955, 961 : AIR 1956 SC 66, 69 : 1956 Cri LJ 156.

         High Court can take action for contempt of subordinate court under S.2 of 1926 Acts for defamation of the Judge though the aggrieved officer may have remedies such as S. 499, IPC Bathina Ramakrishna Reddy v. State of Madras, 1952 SCR 425 : AIR 1952 SC 149 : 1952 Cri LJ 832.

Section – 11. Power of High Court to try offences committed or offenders found outside jurisdiction.-  A High Court shall have jurisdiction to inquire into or try a contempt of itself or of any court subordinate to it, whether the contempt is alleged to have been committed within or outside the local limits of its jurisdiction, and whether the person alleged to be guilty of contempt is within or outside such limits.

Section –12:- Punishment for contempt of court.- (1) Save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act or in any other law, a contempt of court may be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both :

        Provided that the accused may be discharged or the punishment awarded may be remitted on apology being made to the satisfaction of the court.

Explanation:- An apology shall not be rejected merely on the ground that it is qualified or conditional if the accused makes it bona fide.

2)    Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, no court shall impose a sentence in excess of that specified in sub-section (1) for any contempt either in respect of itself or of a court subordinate to it.

(3)    Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, where a person is found guilty of a civil contempt, the court, if it considers that a fine will not meet the ends of justice and that a sentence of imprisonment is necessary shall, instead of sentencing him to simple imprisonment, direct that he be detained in a civil prison for such period not exceeding six months as it may think fit

(4)    Where the person found guilty of contempt of court in respect of any undertaking given to a court is a company, every person who, at the time the for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the contempt and the punishment may be enforced with the leave of the court, by the detention in civil prison of each such person :

          Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall render any such     person  liable to such punishment if he  proves that the contempt was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent  its commission.

(5)    Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (4), where the contempt of court referred t therein has been committed by a company and it is proved that the contempt has been committed  with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other officer of to company, such director, manager, secretary or other officer shall also be deemed to be guilty of the contempt and the punishment may be enforced, with the leave of the court, by the detention in civil prison of such director, manager, secretary or other officer.

Explanation:- For the purpose of sub-section (4) and (5), -

(a)   “company” means any body corporate and includes a firm or other association of individuals; and

(b)   “director”, in relation to a firm, means a partner in the firm.  

NOTES

      Officers of government should exercise utmost vigilance in compliance of courts’ orders, particularly where they deal with vital issues such as cultivation rights of landholders. Though in the present case the appellant himself withdrew his memo and police protection was later provided to the respondents but such lapses, even during a short interval, can sometimes cause irreparable damage and injury. In the circumstances of this case, though with certain degree of reservation, the benefit of doubt is extended to the appellant, it has to be warned that where a case of wilful disobedience is made out, the courts will not hesitate and will convict the delinquent officer and that no lenience in the court’s attitude should be expected from the court as a matter of course merely on the ground that on order of conviction would damage the service career of the concerned officer. Tapan Kumar Mukherjee v. Heromoni Mondal, (1991) 1 SCC 397 : 1991 SCC (Cri) 198.

    Criticising delay in final disposal of public interest litigation by highlighting public accountability of the court by party to the proceeding, held borders on contempt. But systematic inadequacies of the court can be criticized in broader public interest. Sheela Barse v. Union of India, (1988) 4 SCC 226.  

S. 12(1) Proviso-Apology.- Sincere and repentant though not tendered earlier or in writing, held, deserves acceptance. Dinabandhu Sahu v. State of Orissa, (1972) 4 SCC 761.

       Held, apology is an act of contrition. Unless apology is offered at the earliest opportunity and in good grace apology is shorn of penitence. If apology is offered at a time when the contemnor finds that the court is going to impose punishment it ceases to be an apology and it becomes an act of  a cringing coward. Mulk Raj v. State of Punjab, (1972) 3 SCC (Cri) 24.

         Under S. 12(3), normally the sentence that should be given to an offender who is found guilty of civil contempt, is fine and not imprisonment, which should be given only where the Court is satisfied the ends of justice require the imposition of such a sentence. Before a Court passes the extreme sentence of imprisonment, it must give special reasons after a proper application of its mind that a sentence of imprisonment alone is called for a particular situation. Thus, the sentence of imprisonment is an exception while sentence of fine is the rule. Pushpaben v. Narandas V. Badiani, (1979) 2 SCC 394 : 1979 SCC (Cri) 511.

NOTES

       Due course of justice means not only any particular proceeding but broad stream of administration of justice. Therefore, due course of justice used in Section 2(c) or Section 13 of the Act are of wide import and are not limited to any particular judicial proceeding. Ram Autar Shukla v. Arvind Shukla, 1995 Supp (2) SCC 130.

      Scandalization of the Court is a species of contempt and may take several forms. A common form is the vilification of the Judge. When proceedings in contempt are taken for such vilification the question which the Court has to ask is whether the vilification is of the Judge as a judge, or it is the vilification of the Judge as an individual. If the latter, the Judge is left to his private remedies and the Court has no power to commit for contempt. If the former, the Court will proceed to exercise the jurisdiction with scrupulous care and in cases which are clear and beyond reasonable doubt. Secondly, the Court will have also to consider the degree of harm caused as affecting administration of justice and, if it is slight and beneath notice, Courts will not punish for contempt. This salutary practice is adopted by S. 13 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. The jurisdiction is not intended to uphold the personal dignity of the Judges. That must rest on surer foundations. Judges rely on their conduct itself to be its own vindication. (Per Ray, C.J., Palekar and Chandrachud, JJ). Baradakanta Mishra v. Registrar of Orissa High Court, (1974) 1 SCC 374 : 1974 SCC (Cri) 128.

Section-14:- Procedure where contempt is in the face of the Supreme Court or a High Court.- (1) When it is alleged, or appears to the Supreme Court or the High Court upon its own view, that a person has been guilty of contempt committed in its presence or hearing, the Court may cause such person to be detained in custody, and, at any time before the rising of the Court, on the same day, or as early as possible thereafter, shall-

(a)   cause him to informed in writing of the contempt with which he is charged;

(b)   afford him an opportunity to make his defence to the charge;

(c)   after taking such evidence as may be necessary or as may be offered by such person and after hearing him, proceed, either forthwith or after adjournment, to determine the matter oft eh charge ; and

(d)   make such order for the punishment or discharge of such person as may be just,

(2)   Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where a person charged with contempt under that sub-section applies, whether orally or in writing, to have the charge against him tried by some Judge other than the Judge or Judges in whose presence or hearing the offence is alleged to have been committed, and the Court is of opinion that it is practicable to be so and that in the interests of proper administration of justice the application should be allowed, it shall cause the matter to be placed, together with a statement of the facts of the case, before the Chief Justice for such directions as he may think fit to issue as respects the trial thereof.

(3)   Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, in any trial of a person charged with contempt under sub-section (1) which is held, in pursuance of the direction given under sub-section (2), by a Judge other than the Judge or Judge or Judges in whose presence or hearing the offence is alleged to have been committed, it shall not be necessary for the Judge or Judges in whose presence or hearing the offence is alleged to have been committed to appear as a witness and the statement placed before the Chief Justice under sub-section (2) shall be treated as evidence in the case.

(4)   Pending the determination of the charge, the Court may direct that a person charged with contempt under this section shall be detained in such custody as it may specify:

       Provided that he shall be released on bail, if a bond for such sum of money as the Court thinks sufficient is executed with or without sureties conditioned that the person charged shall attend at the time and place mentioned in the bond and shall continue to so attend until otherwise directed by the Court :

       Provided further that the Court may, if it thinks fit, instead of taking bail from such person, discharge him on his executing a bond without sureties for his attendance as aforesaid.

Section-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 of the Advocate General,[or]

(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 of 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, be 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.

NOTES

   High Court can take action for contempt of court not only on a motion made by the Advocate General but also on a motion made by a private party with the consent in writing of the Advocate general. U.N.R. Rao v.M. Shanmugavel, (1977) 1 SCC 741 : 1977 SCC (Cri) 172.  

Section-16:- Contempt by judge, magistrate or other person acting judicially.- (1) Subject to the provisions of any law for the time being in force, a judge, magistrate or other person acting judicially shall also be liable for contempt of his own court or of any other court in the same manner as any other individual is liable and the provisions of this Act shall, so far as may be, apply accordingly.

(2)    Nothing in this section shall apply to any observations or remarks made by a judge, magistrate or other person acting judicially, regarding a subordinate court in an appeal or revision pending before such judge, magistrate or other person against the order or judgment of the subordinate court.

Section –17:- Procedure after cognizance.- (1) Notice of every proceeding under Section 15 shall personally on the person charged, unless the Court for reasons to be recorded directs otherwise.

(2) The notice shall be accompanied,-

(a)    in the case of proceedings commenced on a motion, by a copy of the motion as also copies of the affidavits, if any, on which such motion is founded ; and

(b)   in the case of proceedings commenced on a reference by a subordinate court, by a copy of the reference.

(3)   The Court may, if it is satisfied that a person charged under Section 15 is likely to abscond or keep out of the way to avoid service of the notice, order the attachment of his property of such value or amount as it may deem reasonable.

(4)   Every attachment under sub-section (3) shall be effected in the manner provided in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) for the attachment of property in execution of a decree for payment of money, and if, after such attachment, the person charged appears and shows to the satisfaction of the Court that he did not abscond or keep out of the way to avoid service of the notice, the Court shall order the release of his property from attachment upon such terms as to costs or otherwise as it may think fit.

(5)   Any person charged with contempt under Section 15 may file an affidavit in support of his defence, and the Court may determine the matter of the charge either on the affidavits filed or after taking such further evidence as may be necessary, and pass such order as the justice of the case requires.

NOTES

S. 17(2)-Notice must specify the particular portions of the letter found by the court to be offensive.- Mere reference to the entire document criticized. Ram Pratap Sharma, Re, (1977) 1 SCC 150 : 1977 SCC (Cri) 44.

       Filing of false affidavit in court constitutes criminal contempt. Tutoring, or pressure by police or fear of police is no defence. Dhananjay Sharma v. State of Haryana, (1995) 3 SCC 757 : 1995 SCC (Cri) 608.

Section-18:- Hearing of cases of criminal contempt to be by Benches.- (1) Every case of criminal contempt under Section 15 shall be heard and determined by a Bench of not less than two Judges. (2) Sub-section (1) shall not apply to the Court of a Judicial Commissioner.

Section-19:- Appeals.- (1) An appeal shall lie as of right from any order or decision of High Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt-

(a)   Where the order or decision is that of a single judge, to a Bench of not less than two Judges of the Court ;

(b)   Where the order or decision is that of a Bench, to the Supreme Court : Provided that where the order or decision is that of the Court of the Judicial Commissioner in any Union territory, such appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court.

(2) Pending any appeal, the appellate Court may order that –

(a)   the execution of the punishment or order appealed against be suspended;

(b)   if the appellant is in confinement, he be released on bail ; and

(c)   the appeal be heard notwithstanding that the appellant has purged his contempt.

(3) Where any person aggrieved by any order against which an appeal may be filed satisfies the High Court that he intends to prefer an appeal, the High Court may also exercise al or any of the powers conferred by sub-section (2)

(4)   An appeal under sub-section (1) shall be filed-

(a)   in the case of an appeal to a Bench of the High Court, within thirty days;

(b)   in the case of an appeal to the Supreme Court, within sixty days. From the date of the order appealed against.

NOTES

    No appeal will lie to the Supreme Court against an interlocutory order of the High Court. Barada Kanta Mishra v. Orissa High Court, (1977) SCC (Cri) 532.

     Appeal does not lie as a matter of right against mere initiation of proceedings for contempt by issuance of notice. Purshotam Dass Goel v. B. S. Dhillon, (1978) 2 SCC  370 : 1978 SCC (Cri) 195.

Section –20:- Limitation for actions for contempt.-  No court shall initiate any proceedings  for contempt, either on its own motion or otherwise, after the expiry of a period of one year from the date on which the contempt is alleged to have been committed.
Section –21:- Act not to apply to Nyaya Panchayats or other village courts.- Nothing contained in this Act shall apply in relation to contempt of Nyaya Panchayats or other village courts, by whatever name known, for the administration of justice, established under any law.
Section-22:-Act to be in addition to, and not in derogation of, other laws relating to contempt.- The provisions of this Act shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of, the provisions of any other law relating to contempt of courts.
Section-23:-Power of Supreme Court and High Courts to make rules.- The Supreme Court or, as the case may be, any High Court, may make rules, not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, providing for any matter relating to its procedure.
Section-24:- Repeal.- The Contempt of Courts Acts, 1952 (32 of 1952) is hereby repealed.

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