By Archana Pandey from Jamnalal Bajaj School of Legal Studies, Banasthali Vidyapith
Judiciary is the supreme authority of any democratic nations like India. Neither the legislature nor executive, is above then the Judiciary. The main work of the Judiciary is to maintain law and order in the society so that peace can be welcomed. No one has a right to go against the Judiciary or violate the system of democracy. If any person violates the basic principles of the law and order he or she will be held liable for that offence. The one way to violate the Legality of the Court is performing contempt of court.
Contempt of Court can be described as the violation of the court’s rule, disobedience of the court, any decree that has been passed by the court not being followed by the people who directly challenge the legal implications and Supreme Authority of the court. Contempt of Court is supervised by Contempt of Court Act, 1971. Any Contempt shall be governed and punished by this act.
Contempt of court includes 4 ways
- Criminal Contempt: According to law, Criminal Contempt is a crime which is also punishable. It includes disobedience to the order, decree, and instructions of the court by that individual. For example, it also talks about the refusal to pay child support, abides by child order etc. If a person commits criminal contempt then the punishment will involve fine as well as imprisonment as may be described by the court
- .Civil Contempt: Civil contempt includes being rude and disrespectful to the Judge, attorney including connecting on so this integrating the personality of a person scandalized the court’s authority and so on. The person who commits civil contempt will be charged which aimed at compelling future compliance with a court order. And if such a person is obedient to the court then his or her punishment can be reduced or nullified. In Ashok Paper Kamgar Union V. Dharam Godha, the court discus about the meaning of willful disorder under section 2(b) of Contempt of Court Act. The court ordered that any act which law said to do but fails to do the same or omission which the court forbids but does the same, done willfully or voluntarily just to disobey the court will be held liable for contempt of court under section 2(b) of Contempt of Court Act.
- Direct Contempt: This type of contempt has been conducted in the presence of courts. It includes refusal by a witness under oath to answer questions of the judges or attorney for proceedings in the courtroom. These have been done in front of the judge and can be easily identified.
- Indirect Contempt: These types of contempt have occurred outside the court’s presence or outside the boundaries of court. It includes attempting to bribe an attorney or witness or attempting to sway members of the jury publishing or handing out flyers having information to disseminate contained in a small paper. Bala Subramaniyam v. P. Janakraju, it talks about willful breach of undertaking of civil contempt. The Karnataka High Court said that the judgment of the court should be obeyed by the citizens until and unless there is any appeal or overruling of that judgment and no litigant has a right to disrespect the judgment.
Essentials of contempt of court
In a general perception it can be said that Contempt of Court is an act of disrespect or disobedience towards a judge or court officer for interference with its orderly process. It includes different ways which shows the misbehavior to the court.
- Misbehavior of a person: A person can be convicted of contempt of court when he or she has shown a misbehavior which disturbs the integrity of the court and also disturbs the pleadings.
- Obstruct the administration of Justice: Any person who has performed any act which is pressurizing the authority to give a particular decision in the favor or against any particular party. For instance, media trials have been conducted by the media houses in which a burning issue, the court has been judged and focused by them. They try to resolve that particular case on their behalf and sometimes affect the moral principles of the convicts and victims. Then only that person will be held liable for the Contempt of court.
- Conducted with mala fide intention: While committing any crime a person must have a guilty or mala fide intention behind that particular crime. If a person innocently and unknowingly performed that particular work having no mala fide intention then that person should not be held liable by the court for any contempt.
- Committed in presence or absence of court: Any person who is guilty of committing contempt of court either in front of the court or jury or outside the court will be equally liable for that crime because no such impact of place or presence is important in deciding whether the person is guilty of the particular act or not.
Punishment for contempt of court
There are some specific rules and regulations that have been formed by the Rule of Justice to punish the convicts when he or she commits a contempt of court.
- Penalties: When any person commits contempt of court then the punishment for the contempt can be drained from fine to jail at a time. It totally depends upon the discretion of the court to decide the person’s punishment according to his amount of contempt. The judge orders the person to pay the fees of other parties at orderly any work required.
- Warrant: When any person individually commits a contempt of court like failing to pay traffic fine or failing to appear in the court for hearing. The Judge has the power to issue a warrant or bench warrant against that person. This issuing of foreign gave power to the law enforcement officers to arrest that person. A warrant can be issued in both civil and criminal contempt.
Imprisonment: In criminal cases penalties imposed for criminal contempt whether a fine or imprisonment. Fine to the offence can be extended to Rs. 300 and imprisonment may extend to 3 years. In the civil cases jail time is sometimes threatened, though it is for a brief period.
Bharat Coking Coal Ltd. vs. State of Bihar, in this case the Supreme Court clarified that if a pendency of any case which creates ambiguity then the party should approach the real Court to reduce any such ambiguity.
Contempt of Court is a similar offence like any grievous offence. It is the duty of every citizen of the nation to obey the Supreme Authority. The Court works to maintain the law and order in the country; therefore it is necessary that it will receive the same level of respect. If any person does Contempt of Court, he or she should not have to be forbidden but have to be punished for their wrong doings so that the legacy of the court should be maintained and the process of providing justice to the aggrieved can be given.