Contempt of Court, Attorney General Venugopal’s grants consent to initiate contempt proceedings against standup comedian Kunal Kamra for his tweet following the Supreme Court’s dec
21/11/2020

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Attorney General said, “It is attempt to deliberately insult the CJI which would equally be an insult to the Supreme Court of India itself, which the CJI heads.” by standup comedian. It would tend to lower the authority of the Supreme Court of India as well as undermine the confidence that the litigant public have in the institution of the Supreme Court itself

What is contempt of court?

  • Contempt of Court refers to the offence of showing disrespect to the dignity or authority of a court.
  • The objective for contempt is stated to be to safeguard the interests of the public if the authority of the Court is denigrated and public confidence in the administration of justice is weakened or eroded.
 
Article 129 and 215 of the Constitution of India empowers the Supreme Court and High Court respectively to punish people for their respective contempt. But subordinate courts don’t have power of contempt.
 
 
As a result contempt of court Act,1971 was enacted by the Indian parliament.
According to the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, contempt of court can either be civil contempt or criminal contempt.
  • Civil contempt means wilful disobedience of any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court, or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court.
  • Criminal contempt, on the other hand, is attracted by 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:
  1. scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court; or
  2. prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or
  3.  interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.
 
Is a fair criticism allowed?
Yes. The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, very clearly states that fair criticism of any case which has been heard and decided is not contempt.
 
In 2006, the government brought in an amendment, which now provides “truth” as defence provided it is bona fide and in public interest.
 
The consent of either the Attorney General or the Solicitor General is necessary, under section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, for initiating contempt proceedings against a person.
 

What is the punishment for contempt of court?

According to the Act, 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.
The Supreme Court recently found activist-advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court for two of his tweets, and imposed a token fine of Re 1 on him after Bhushan refused to apologies.

CONCLUSION: 

As citizens of India are guaranteed the right to freedom of speech and expression under the Article19 of the Fundamental rights but these rights are not absolute. Therefore in order to establish the right balance between dignity of the court and freedom of speech and expression, the contempt of court is indeed one of the reasonable restrictions that can act as a rider on this right. 
 
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Q.1 certain cases of contempt of courts are observed in democracy like India, With respect to the contempt of court, consider the following statements.
  1. Contempt of court can either be civil contempt or criminal contempt that may bring punishment in the form of imprisonment or with fine.
  2. The provision for enactment of act related to contempt is mentioned in the India constitution.
Select the correct answer using the code given below: 
(a) 1 only 
(b) 2 only 
(c) 1 and 2 only 
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Correct answer is (C)
Q.2. Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 was enacted by the parliament to check unfair criticism of the courts. Under this act which Indian court(s) has/have power to punish under the contempt?
1.Supreme court
2. High courts
3. Subordinate courts
Select the correct answer using the code given below: 
(a) 1 only 
(b) 2 only 
(c) 1 and 2 only 
(d) 1, 2 and 3 only  
Correct answer is (c)
 
 
 
 
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