The power to punish for contempt of courts is necessary for rule of law and supremacy of law. Critically analyse.

The constitution provides power to punish for ‘contempt’ under article 129 for Supreme Court and under article 215 for High Court, as both are courts of record.

Types of contempt:

  1. Civil Contempt – It refers to wilful disobedience of the order of court or slandering the authority of the court.
  2. Criminal Contempt – It occurs when a person tends to lower the authority of the court, interferes with the due course of any judicial proceeding and/or obstructs the administration of justice.

Initiation of case:

The regulations for the contempt of court are as stipulated in Contempt of Court Act, 1979.

  • ‘Suo-Moto’ initiation of the case by the SC/HC.
  • Attorney General can initiate case himself.
  • Normal citizens can initiate proceedings but only with the approval of the AG.

Why required:

  • Protects dignity of court.
  • Rise of post-truth world, radical interests, foreign influences, etc pose challenge for the courts.
  • Courts must have the power to defend itself.

Challenges:

  • Law commission has recommended that it affects the freedom of expression & hence must be sparingly used.
  • Many times it is difficult to establish, what constitutes contempt.
  • It should not be a criminal offence as opined by PUCL.

Way Forward:

The judges are one of the most learned men; hence their ‘broad shoulders’ should use powers judiciously.

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