The Contempt of Court | UPSC
The subject of contempt of court
WHY IN NEWS:
What is the rationale for this provision? Do judicial institutions need protection?
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Judiciary
For PRELIMS The Contempt of Court not so important except the Article numbers which you need to stress a little .
For MAINS this is a very important issue . The Contempt of Court has its own History and overtime, it is fascinating to know that this concept has evolved too . Let us dive in !
- The concept of contempt of court is several centuries old.
- Violation of the judges’ orders was considered an affront to the king himself.
- Over time, any kind of disobedience to judges, or obstruction of the implementation of their directives, or comments and actions that showed disrespect towards them came to be punishable.
STATUTORY BASIS FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT?
- There were pre-Independence laws of contempt in India.
- Besides the early High Courts, the courts of some princely states also had such laws.
- ARTICLE 129 of the Constitution conferred on the Supreme Court the power to punish contempt of itself.
- ARTICLE 215 conferred a corresponding power on the High Courts.
WHAT ARE THE KINDS OF CONTEMPT OF COURT?
- The law codifying contempt classifies it as civil and criminal.
- Civil contempt is fairly simple.
- Criminal contempt is more complex.
IT CONSISTS OF THREE FORMS:
(a) Words, written or spoken, signs and actions that “scandalise” or “tend to scandalise” or “lower” or “tends to lower” the authority of any court
(b) Prejudices or interferes with any judicial proceeding and
(c) Interferes with or obstructs the administration of justice.
- ALLEGATIONS : Making allegations against the judiciary or individual judges, attributing motives to judgments and judicial functioning.
- ABUSIVE REMARKS : Scurrilous attack on the conduct of judges are normally considered matters that scandalise the judiciary.
- Thus , courts must be protected from tendentious attacks that lower its authority, defame its public image and make the public lose faith in its impartiality.
WHAT IS NOT CONTEMPT ?
- Fair and accurate reporting of judicial proceedings will not amount to contempt of court.
IS TRUTH A DEFENCE AGAINST A CONTEMPT CHARGE?
For many years, truth was seldom considered a defence against a charge of contempt.
- There was an impression that the judiciary tended to hide any misconduct among its individual members in the name of protecting the image of the institution.
- The Act was amended in 2006 to introduce truth as a valid defence, if it was in public interest and was invoked in a bona fide manner.