Contempt of Court

 Contempt of Court

In the recent set of activities you must be familiar with the phrase "Contempt of Court" whether it be the case of Social Activist and Lawyer Prashant Bhushan or a stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra . Prashant Bhushan was charged with the Criminal Contempt of Court in a suo-moto proceeding initiated by Supreme court of India for two of his tweets . In one of his tweets he claimed Supreme Court of India is responsible for the destruction of democracy and in the other one he commented on the photo of Chief Justice of India riding a bike without a helmet and mask while the Supreme Court of India is in lockdown mode . He was imposed with a fine of Rs.1 by the Supreme Court of India for his tweets which were scandalous to the Supreme Court and held that if the actions were not taken in such cases it would affect the national honor and prestige in the comity of nations . 

In order to understand what is Contempt of Court we need to look into the Contempt of Court Act , 1971 . According to the Contempt of Court Act , 1971  contempt is of two types :-

  • Civil Contempt of Court 
  • Criminal Contempt of Court 
“Civil contempt” means wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court , whereas “criminal contempt” means 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; or
  • prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or
  • interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner;
Contempt of Court can be done directly or indirectly . Direct Contempt of Court is done when any such person who misbehaves or yells at the Justice in the court room or behaves in a way which tends to scandalise or lowers the authority of any court whereas , Indirect Contempt of Court is said to be done when any such person is not present in the courtroom and outside the court behaves in a way or circulates any comments or articles which tends to lower the authority of any court .  

Recently In the case of Kunal Kamra a stand up comedian where he cracked a joke on Supreme Court in his tweets and Rachita Taneja who was charged on the basis of three of her catoons which criticised the Supreme Court , One of them was that of the S.C. building with an orange flag atop whose caption read ,"Sanghi Court of India" . In both the cases proceeding has been initiated in the court with the consent of Attorney General of India . 

Judiciary is said to be one of important pillar of democracy and for the free and fair delivery of justice its sanctity must be preserved . Freedom of Speech and Expression is a Fundamental right provided by Constitution of India under Article 19(2)  but it should not be used in a way which scandalizes or defames or tends to lower the dignity of any Court in India .

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