The history of power of exercising contempt jurisdiction and punishing for contempt of court can be traced back to the 13th century. The ancient period considered king as a primal person to deliver justice and his powers were exhaustive and unquestionable. People during that period had no right to condemn any act of the king or lay out any criticism and if there were any, such an act was punishable. With change of time and pattern, work overburdened and was delegated by him to a functioning authority i.e., judges. The purpose of bringing contempt of court was to protect the integrity of the court and safeguard the functioning of judicial administration without disruption, whether this was directed at any judicial officers or public at large.

Contempt Law Concept 3D

The Supreme Court and the High Courts of India have been empowered with the power to penalize contemnor under Articles 129 and 215 of the Constitution of India. This power of the Courts to penalize the contemnor imposes restrictions with respect to Article 19 (1) (a) dealing with freedom of speech and expression, where the court is empowered to treat as contempt any speech which disrespects the authority of the courts. The court has to use with utmost care a case involving contempt of court, for improving the justice system and not for individual betterment. In 1961, a committee was set under the leadership of late H N Sanyal, which placed a report stating the study of law, identifying the problems and to protect the dignity of the court from degrading. The Contempt of Court Act, 1971 was passed in pursuance of the recommendation of the said committee


Contempt jurisdiction is a special type of jurisdiction bestowed upon by the constitution. This power of contempt must be used with utmost care and with absolute fairness to uphold and maintain the integrity of the court and to have the faith of the citizens in law strengthened in a better manner. Power of contempt brings along an assurance of dignity in tact of judicial institution in order to protect it from degrading and to have non- interference in the functioning system of administration of justice.

1.3 AIM

To understand the concept of contempt of court and legal provisions and aspects of the Act in the light of fair exercise of power of the judiciary while dealing with contemptuous act. To understand the parameters that are taken into consideration by the authorities while deciding a situation or an act to be contempt and be penalized. To know what is fair criticism and to what extent are the criticisms valued by the judiciary and how freedom of speech and expression brought under restriction to protect and maintain the integrity of the court.


Judiciary is empowered with contempt jurisdiction to maintain the dignity of the court by ensuring non-disruptive and smooth functioning of the administration and to have the faith restored which the citizens hold in the judiciary and its process. Therefore, this special power of contempt is to safeguard the court and not to protect an individual judge. Hence, there is a need for fair and efficient exercise of contempt power by the judiciary.


Contempt of court is a special type of jurisdiction granted by the constitution and whether this power has been fairly exercised by the judiciary in the administration of justice?


The research is a doctrinal study of Contempt of Court Act, 1971. This project is based from various readings, observation from different authors, journal as well as research articles and analysing statutory provisions. The Library-based Research method will be followed for deriving the Hypothesis. The search will be conducted on the basis of primary sources such as statutes and secondary sources such as books, online articles available freely as well as on legal databases. The paper is based on pure theoretical research.


The Author[1] seeks to uphold the Rule of Law as a fundamental guideline in exercising the court’s contempt jurisdiction. The Author gives us a fair historic background on the evolution of the Act and tries to clear out the contrary belief of the ultimate aim of enactment of the law of contempt. The Author sheds light on the abuse of power of the judiciary while exercising contempt jurisdiction also mentions some remarkable case laws where the power is not fairly and effectively exercised by the authority. The Author provides with a critical analysis of the contempt of court law and gives us a good knowledge on Truth being the defence of any contempt.

The Author[2] explains the notion of contempt of court by giving importance to the rights conferred onto the people by the Constitution of India and the judicial authorities being the protector of those rights. Sometimes, treating a contemptuous act by the court can prove to be fatal to the judicial system, which will erode the trust and belief of the citizens in the judicial administrative system.  The Author also gives us a brief idea about the constitutional provisions and the contempt punishments and the procedure that has to be followed in the case of contempt, highlighting the contempt power of the court as special jurisdiction so as to ensure undisturbed functioning of the system. The Author highlights the role media plays in bringing out the people who are the reason for contempt holding superior position in justice system. The approach of the Author towards the subject matter is secondary in nature, giving us brief knowledge of contempt and its punishment under the constitution.

The Author[3] seeks to shed light on other classes which can be fairly considered as contempt of court apart from Civil and Criminal contempt. The Author provides with descriptive explanation regarding the provisions governing contempt stating various sections which are in certain cases not considered as contempt. The Author states the exception to penal provision where the alleged person is acquitted. The Author gives fair exposure to the procedure to be followed by the court while dealing contempt cases. The Author’s approach is somewhat qualitative in nature as it refers to various case laws with varied aspects to deal with.

The Author[4] stresses on simplifying the meaning of Contempt of Court by differentiating and explaining in brief the Civil and Criminal Contempt. The Author has provided  a brief perspective on historical origin. The Author has placed a good emphasis on the origin of the concept of contempt at both; international level as well as Indian level. The cases as given in this research paper do not throw enough light on the contempt of court concept and is grossly inadequate for the object of the research paper. It gives us a brief knowledge of contempt with no backdrop of what statement or doing of a person constitutes as contempt of court. Doctrinal Research understands the nature of the contempt and its types and does not undertake into account mens rea of the statement or doing and what punishment the contemptuous act attracts.


I have divided my project into 6 chapters. The first chapter deals with the introduction under which I have written the historical background of contempt where how the need for contempt is stated along with hypothesis, objectives and literature review. Chapter two deals with origin of Contempt in India after several acts the latest act which is The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 which covers all the necessary provisions and also constitutional provisions. Chapter 3 explains the different types of contempt followed by exceptions, punishment and also the procedure that needs to be followed for contempt proceedings is discussed. Chapter 4 deals with freedom of giving views and opinions and the importance of it. It is also stated about what should be fair and what the situations are when the constitutional rights are tried to be restricted. The role of media in today’s world and also the necessity for knowing information to the general public about the day to day positions of judicial system is described in detail. In chapter 5 the essence of power and the abuse of power is stated followed with some important case laws where the judgments given by judiciary is it fairly given as per the contempt powers given to them is discussed. Finally, in chapter 6 I have given suggestion about what can be done for fair exercise of contempt power given to the judiciary and also other important thing which needs to be focused upon the and finally ended my research project with conclusion.


The judicial system that is seen now arises is the peak of the last many years ago which started to as a natural law and what we are seeing now is the positive law where the legislature laid down the statutes which need to followed. The main thought of contempt had been taken from the British law. Before the independent India, the power of punishing for contempt of court was inherited by the three High courts of India which were Calcutta (now Kolkata), Bombay (now Mumbai) and Madras (now Chennai) as per Indian High Courts Act, 1861.  During the ancient times the king was superior of all and this control is been given by him to the legal system and if anyone tries or even king himself tries to question or not respect the courts then it is a challenge to the  supremacy as a king. So, this can be said as a source of law from where it changed in the society the value that a king enjoyed was maintained by kingdom.

In India the first Act for contempt of law was The Contempt of Court Act, 1926. In Section 2[5], it is stated about the High Courts and subordinates to it, where the High court has the power for punishment of contempt. After this, the new Act was made called Contempt of Courts Act, 1952 repealing the previous Act. The new Act defines the jurisdiction of High Court. This Act also classified the contempt into civil and criminal contempt. In April 1960 new bill was presented in the Lok Sabha for the amendment of Contempt of Court Act which was found to be inadequate. Taking into consideration, government decided to study the necessity of amendment and then a committee was also formed. The report defined the powers of some courts and also indicated criminal contempt as well as the procedure about it. The bill was then discussed by Parliament.  Finally after a lot of discussions, recommendations the new Act i.e. The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 was passed replacing the previous Act.


Article 129 and Article 215 of Indian Constitution play a crucial role towards contempt. Supreme Court has the power[6] for punishing a person who is liable for contempt under Article 129 whereas, High Court has the power[7] under Article 215. Further, High Courts are given an additional power for contempt to punish in lower courts[8] which is given under the provisions of Section 10 of Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. This power of the Courts to penalize contempt imposes restrictions with respect to Article 19(1) (a) dealing with freedom of speech and expression, where the court is empowered to treat as contempt any speech which disrespects the authority of the courts. Supreme Court which is the superior of all courts should take an appropriate decision and keeping the entire situation in mind. Looking at the decisions the Supreme Court made, the High Courts can also analyse in the same manner for making a change as well as also for the betterment of the dignity of the courts. In contempt jurisdiction where the importance is given more towards safeguarding the courts in the eyes of citizens so that it does not lower down the importance of judicial system. The reason for enacting the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 is to deal with the powers of High courts which have been given and to remove various doubts and questions which had been raised. If by falsely writing or trying to lower the honour of the court, the citizens will lose faith towards the judge, who is not working fair to the judiciary, and this would lead to loss of confidence and in such case the offender should be punished and other necessary actions should be taken. Articles 129 and 215 are added so that the power given to the Supreme Court and High Courts will used wisely when the need arises, so that any one questioning or trying to lower the value  judicial system, will be put behind bars or such other actions taken which deem to be appropriate.



Contempt of Court in a layman’s term can be explained as an offence which tries to impair and degrade the judicial authority of the Courts and interferes with the smooth functioning of the judicial system. Black Odgers proclaims that any published words and/or any act which causes or intends the judicial administration of justice is to be seen as a disdain which results in the Contempt of Court, to detriment any justified trial relating to any matter or cause, being the substantial subject matter of the proceeding, whether Civil or Criminal or to hinder the administration of justice.

Contempt of court is basically classified in two major categories by The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971:

1. Civil contempt

2. Criminal contempt

Civil contempt has been understood as any willful disobedience or disrespect shown towards any judicial order, decree, direction or judgment or any other judicial procedure of the court, or any willful omission to perform an undertaking given to the court. Civil contempt has been defined under The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.

Civil contempt of court has been understood as a contempt not being of serious nature or is in any way or manner severely interfering with smooth functioning of administration of justice or harming the dignity of the court. Civil contempt simply means not following the order of court given in any form i.e. disobedience of any judgment, writ, decree or any other process of judicial administration. Civil contempt of court mostly takes place when there has been failure on part of someone to comply to the order of the court which may be result in an injury or harm to the rights of another party. Civil contempt of court has been most often seen as wrong against an individual i.e. it affects right in personam,  for instance, failure to pay maintenance ordered by the court.

Criminal contempt has been defined under The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. Criminal contempt has been segregated into three different parts where each part individual and/or in combination of other can be classified as Criminal contempt of court. These three parts are-

a) Any word, written or spoken, signs and actions which prove to scandalize or tend to scandalize or lower or tend to lower the dignity of the court.

b) Prejudice or interrupt any judicial process.

c) Disturb or hinder the judicial administration.

Criminal contempt of court is a serious as well as complex problem. Criminal contempt has been understood as an act or statement of serious manner which in a way defies or tries to defy the dignity of court and lower its image in the eyes of general public. Criminal contempt of court can be put as publishing of any kinds of words or doing of any act with the ulterior motive to affect or harm the integrity of court. Criminal contempt of court has been stated as wrong against the whole world rather than affecting the private right of an individual i.e. it affects right in rem. For instance, bribing the judicial officers to favor the judgment or publishing of scandalous statement in newspaper that raise potential question on administration of justice. The purpose of dealing with criminal contemptuous act is to keep intact the power of court and maintain its dignity.

There are other types of Contempt of court which are as follows:

  • Contempt of court taking place inside the premises of court.
  • Contempt of court taking place outside the premises of court.
  • Contempt of court by Judge or any other judicial officer.
  • Contempt of court by any other person.


There are some actions or doing that cannot be classified as contempt of court. They could be exception to contempt of court. Thus, following actions or statement could not be accounted as contempt of court.

  • Where section 3 of the Act states that the publication and distribution[9] of any subject matter done with no ulterior motive but with sheer innocence cannot be considered as contempt of court
  • Where section 4 of the Act states that any reporting[10] of the judicial proceedings done in a fair and an accurate manner without omission of material facts cannot be considered as contempt of court
  • Where section 5 of the Act states that any criticism towards judicial act[11] or process in a positive or fair manner cannot be considered as contempt of court
  • Where section 6 of the Act states that any complaint filed against the presiding officer[12] of lower court cannot be considered as contempt of court
  • Where section 7 of the Act states that publishing of any information[13] concerning to any proceedings in chamber or in camera cannot be considered as contempt of court


The Supreme Court and High Courts of India have right to make a person liable under contempt of court and award the punishment accordingly.

Punishment regarding contempt of court[14] has been defined under section 12 which states that a person can be punished for contempt of court with simple imprisonment for a term which can be extended up to six months or fine which can be extended to two thousand rupees or with both. This section for punishment applies to both the types of contempt in the same manner as there is no form of distinction between the civil and criminal contempt with respect to penal provisions.

However, there is a small exception clause to this penal provision which says that a person will not attract the penal provisions if there is an apology made to the court with its satisfaction i.e. a person shall be discharged or the punishment awarded to him shall be pardoned.

Also, this section 12 must be read in correspondence to section 13 for clear understanding and application of the provisions. Section 13 of the Act clearly states that a person shall not be held liable[15] for contempt of court shall not impose a sentence upon him unless it has been sufficiently proved that the contempt was of such nature or posed such a threat that might degrade the dignity of court or interfere with due course of administration of justice.


Section 14 of the Act states that if a person has been detained following the principles of natural justice due to the contempt made in Supreme Court or High Court, the person shall be informed about the contempt charges in written and will be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard and defend his case and court after following the procedure[16], at its own discretion may discharge or punish that person as it may deem fit. However, it has to be taken into account that the person accused of contempt of court cannot be prosecuted before the same judge of the court where the contempt was alleged to be made and the same judge cannot be called in a witness in the proceedings.

Section 18 of the Act states that every contempt of court which is of criminal nature should be heard and decided by a Bench[17] of not less than two judges.

Section 20 of the Act states that there is time bar of one year from the date on which contempt is alleged to have been accused against a person, after the lapse of this time period, no court shall take any action regarding contempt against that person.


It is been said that for having a good democratic nation the main thing which needs to be given to the citizens the right to express their observations about it. The right to freedom and expression which is stated in Constitution of India under Article 19 (1) (a) gives a right towards freedom for expression[18] our opinions and ideas, even though restrictions[19] which is laid under Clause 2 of article. Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 which gives the exceptions of publishing information which is no motive or any hatred is been served cannot be a part of contempt. The freedom of speech and expression plays a major role in this.

The rights to examine, giving views have been always raised on the judges and bringing changes on the views or judgement which is been given in matters relating to Contempt of Court. The judiciary many a times where there a statement has been made and expressed relating to any cases or views in innocence, but the judges have taken  action of it treating it to be contempt. No doubt restrictions are given to a reasonable limit because it should not affect the administration of justice and also the respect and dignity which the citizens have towards the judicial system. Article 19 gives the right of expressing their views in good manner so that it can be analysed and if found appropriate could be used for the betterment of the society. There are times when any view is given or told regarding the judgement of cases or about the procedure of courts and instead of looking at the issue the judges called it contempt and inappropriate and actions have been taken. There should be a norm where instead of looking at the negative point, it should be viewed in a positive way and if found inappropriate  action should be taken. In this manner, if all follow the judicial system, faith in courts and judicial administration will have been embellished in the minds of citizens.


The fourth support of democratic India and to change the perspective of the case or any news is Media. Through media the trending situation is the accused is brought in light of everyone and by all the support of the people the accused to be sent to jail. Through media, awareness has been made among the people and they can support for justice against the wrongdoer. Media having a very important role has even brought changes in contempt of court where the persons who are actually responsible in contempt of court and where no action was taken due to their control of media which  they misused to protect themselves from the general public.

With respect to freedom of speech and expression the media plays an important role for giving information to the general public to know what is going on in cases which needs to be known. Through media the facts come into picture such as the cases which are all about and what has been told, how the hearings were taken and on what basis the judgement was passed by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.

The case of Arundhati Roy who was convicted by Supreme Court for criminal contempt on conveying views in the judgement of Narmada Bachao Andolan where no one is permitted to disrespect the dignity of courts. Due to this, she was told to apologise for stating such views which she refused. She was held liable for criminal contempt and she was punished with one day imprisonment and fine of Rs. 2,000. Various journalists showed all the cases and situations as well as how was the Hon’ble Supreme Court handling this matter. The general public could understand it in more detail. Thus, the role of media is very crucial and through this the general public can get to know the news of various parts of the society and how the judiciary is handling the taking various steps of important cases.



The important purpose for which the contempt powers to the courts are given is to maintain the majesty and pride of courts and also about their image in eyes of citizens. The faith which the citizens of India has towards the judiciary is for governing justice. The laws which are been given is to check and take action if necessary towards the unnecessary attacks or any efforts which are likely to weaken the rules of law. The judicial system can be seriously affected if the faith or the good image of citizens will be permitted to be shaken and the consequences will not be good for the judiciary.

The reason for enacting the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 is the powers of High courts which has been given to remove various questions and doubts which were raised. If by falsely writing or trying to lower the honour of the court, the citizens will have less respect towards the judge, who is not working fair to the judiciary, this would lead to loss of confidence and the offender needs to be punished and other necessary actions should be taken. Many have the belief that the Act is for the judiciary or lawyers for keeping them above law. If it were so, then it will be an abuse of power and also safeguarding of justice will be ignored. The punishment given by the judiciary to offender is not for the protection of judges but for safeguarding of the citizens. The freedom of individual secured who have a right for sovereign administration of justice.

Justice is not for the benefit or an asset of a private person and in fact, it should be bold, permitted without any unfair practices and also subject to various examinations. So, if anyone questions anything relating to any judgement for e.g., either what is the interpretation of law or what basis the judgement is passed or punishment is givenm  it cannot be called as contempt. But if someone tries to question or do anything with dishonesty or without professionalism which affects the dignity of judges or judicial system, then that person would be liable for going beyond his rights and this will be called contempt.

Legal judgements after the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 the judiciary had various changes which arose. Wrong allegations, inappropriate sentences spoken and accusations of corruption were objectionable. In such situations the courts found that the statements which had been given was not to lower the integrity or image of the court, but the statements were immoral and insulting. In Abuse of Power which will be dealt in the next point where the court tried to upturn the decisions and be fair with every judgement and when sometimes it failed to do as per law will be discussed.


This part of the section will discuss about the various powers which is given in contempt and how in India it goes from various misleading, erroneous and with mistakes. This part also will let us know the adverse effects, which were really meant to strengthen the judicial system. The role of judges has increased over the past years. With the rise in the Public Interest Litigation (PIL), the judges have also taken the role to manage both legislature or the government and executive. Due to this now a days judicial activism is outshined.

In a country like India, it is the citizens who are superior and all the various authorities even judiciary for the welfare and proper administration of the country. Judiciary should not see about its own superiority and should not show any fear of contempt but shall have public support and this also depends upon own individual’s actions. To describe contempt of court it can be told that it does not have any historical base but it even gives errors at some part. The main reason of contempt is not safeguarding the self-worth of courts, but for protecting the management of justice.

The judiciary should not use this control to defend own supremacy nor shall they use it when anyone speaks against them. Because every person has a right to speech and the judiciary should try not coming into any public argument instead rely on their own good conduct. Judges should pay no attention to unreliable disapproval and mainly focus on honest criticism which is truly affecting the judicial system. The concept of contempt which needs to be truly understood is that the powers given and which needs to be used as per the situation arises only when the justice is questioned or where statements which are spoken are not true or disrespectful to the administration of justice. Thus, contempt powers are not only for an individual judge or for any other person but it is for all citizen who needs to respect for the dignity of administration of justice. After knowing all this the thing that arises in mind is that will there be any faith in law. Now days, the authorities who goes against the law which are not in their control are being treated in a different way. Therefore, the effects which are seen give rise to questions on dignity and power of judicial system.

The following are some of the cases which needs to be known and how their judgments are been submitted are as follows –


Facts: [First instance] The Petitioner was an organization named Narmada Bachao Andolan, under Article 32[21] of the Constitution of India filed a Writ Petition concerning the dodging of vast number of peoples from their homes and severe environmental effect due to construction of the Sardar Sarovar Reservoir Dam at Gujarat. While the Petition was pending, the petitioners and the respondent Arundhati Roy, a well-known author, were agitated by the order. The Respondent not being a part of this had published an article in a magazine with a title “The Greater Common Good” which was viewed by the judges as grievous impairment of the judicial administration. The Court was highly resented by the action of the respondent.

[Second instance] A contempt petition had been filed against the respondent for shouting slogans outside the court which were taken as to undermine the dignity of the court. However, all the allegations were profusely denied by the respondent. A suo moto criminal contempt proceeding was initiated against her for her writings in the paragraphs and alleged her of contempt of court of her precarious statement and consequently the court had issued a notice against her. The Respondent replied in affidavit that the statements were not contemptuous and she has a right to express her beliefs and opinion freely.

Issues: [First instance] (1) Whether the published article by the respondent can be prima facie held to be disrupting the proceeding of the court and impair the dignity of the court?

[Second instance] (1) Does the right of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the constitution holds immunity from the contempt? (2) Can the intention be held as one of the significant criteria to uphold any person for contempt?

Judgment: [First instance] Yes, the court held the writings of the respondent to be obstructing and interfering with the judicial proceedings and the institution and it sabotages the system of justice which the citizen holds utmost faith in. The court however took a broader view and taking into account the significance of the matter in hand, decided not to initiate any proceedings against the respondent.

[Second instance] Though the freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right of every citizen, this right is however subjected to the Contempt of Court Act, 1971 where the freedom is limited and restricted when its causes grave disruption to the judicial system in performing its duties smoothly. The respondent was proved to have the intention of harming the dignity of the court and shaken the belief and faith held by the general public in them. However, the court magnanimously resorted to punish her by symbolic imprisonment and fine of Rs. 2000 to meet the justice and have the faith intact in the system.


Facts: A G Noorani had published an article in the newspaper “Indian Express” on a date 13th December, 1977 regarding the decision of the judicial authorities in a Habeas Corpus case where the statement in the newspaper contained that the certain judicial officers of Supreme Court had drafted an ethical code has been repudiated them which was a wrong assumption by the editor. This was made known to the Editor by the Registrar of the court by a letter asking the editor to rectify the statement to the true fact. However, the editor in turn proposed to give away the entire contents by publishing it.

Issues: (1) Was the publication of the substance of the letter which was confidential in nature, by the editor reasonable in light of it being important to public?

(2) Were the intention of the editor to detriment the judicial position of the authority and the court?

 (3) Is the Judiciary system immune by the fair criticism?

Judgment: The matter was held by majority ruling of 2:1. Justice Iyer ruled that contempt power of the court is to be used wisely and effectively. The publication of the letter by the editor was not the correct way of making the matter known to the public under the name of being significant. The Court stated that this power is to be operated when the system of justice is faced with severe contemptuous attacks with the motive to obstruct the process of the judicial administration. The court magnanimously shrugged off the act of the editor under the light that the court is not to entertain or to be anguished by such every other averments. The court also ruled that judiciary system is not free from criticism if is fair and within the limits though made in good or bad faith, not intending to hinder the process or degrade the judicial authority. The editor was not held guilty of contempt by the court for the above reasons.


Facts: The Petitioner had challenged the speech of the Respondent at a meeting of the Bar Council of Hyderabad on 28th November, 1978 asserting that the respondent made disparaging remark against the apex court and the speech bears some slanderous language against the judicial officers and its administration. The Petitioner stated that he requested the Attorney-General of India and Solicitor-General of India granting consent to initiate the proceedings under contempt wherein both declined his request. An application was moved to initiate contempt under section 15(1) (a) and (b)[24] of the act read with explanation (1) and rule 3(a), (b) and (c) of the contempt of Supreme Court Rules, 1975. The Respondent in reply to the notice stated that the remarks on the regulation of the three organs of the system were not to show cast any disregard and the contempt petition could not stand without the approval of the attorney and solicitor general. In meanwhile, an advocate filed an application which stated that attorney general and solicitor general shall not be parties to this petition and averment that failing to exercise jurisdiction by them could not be held as contempt.

Issues: (1) Is the application sustainable with no approval of attorney and solicitor general?

(2) Whether they can be the parties to the application and was their actions justified?

(3) Was the speech given by the respondent in the nature of contempt of court?

Judgment: The court decided to dismiss the petition on the background that the application cannot be maintained with the approval of the mandate officers; however it is always open to the petitioner to seek the remedy from the court for suo moto action. The action of the advocate and solicitor general was justified on the ground of interest of justice and lastly the court observed that the fair criticism or opinions should always be entertained by the court, so far as they do not undermine or hinder the judicial process. The speech of the respondent was not intended to obstruct the judicial administration and was made with fair view.


Facts: The petition was filed against the respondent for the tweet made by him on 29th June, 2020 as well as against the Twitter India against the Chief Justice of India stating that it intends to disrupt the independency of the judicial system and to lower the dignity of the court and to initiate the contempt proceedings regarding the same. The court issued a notice to the respondent in pursuance to two tweets where the second tweet was made on 27th June, 2020 considering them to be detrimental to the judicial administration. The respondent in response filed writ petition to withdraw the notice issued to him on the ground of it being inefficient by lacking the approval under section 15 of the Act.

Issue: Whether the tweets of the respondent can be counted as criminal contempt of the court?

Judgment: The court held the tweets made by the respondent to be an attack on the functionality of the judicial system and shake the faith of the general public and consequently the respondent was held guilty of criminal contempt and court showed magnanimity ordering an apology from the respondent which was thereafter refused by him and later on the respondent was punished with a fine of INR 1.



After briefly understanding both the contempt and their legal provisions it is suffice to say that there are no particular parameters or class of actions or statements that can be classified as contempt of court. Similarly, the penal provisions provided are common for both the contempt with no specific penalty attracting a particular contempt. Taking this into account there is a need for different classes of punishment for both the contempt with separate penal provisions for civil contempt of court and criminal contempt of court. The Act itself is ambiguous at most of the part; this demand in return a clear and strict interpretation of the Act in order stay clear of vagueness which is likely to arise due to its ambiguity and also to protect the integrity and main object of the Act. Distinction should be there in the eyes of judicial system between contempt of judges and contempt of court. Various words such as interfering in the hearings, let down the position of authorities down should be removed where the judges feel it inappropriate and then issue is raised. Media plays an important role for good functioning of our nation and changes should be brought for better enactment. The contempt provisions should be equal for all and should not be discriminated by well-known person and a normal individual. There should be proper ways for find out whether it is contempt or not. When act done makes the efficiency of the judicial system difficult, then it can be told as contempt or else not. Clear interpretation of Act is crucial as this is likely to keep the conflicts at bay and to have clear view of the provisions. There is a scope for improvisation of penal provisions of the Act and have it more specific as well as some other provisions of Act which are in need of improvement. Fair exercise of contempt power is also necessary as citizens bestow into the judiciary a faith of protection and justice which should not be shredded by the judiciary.


Jurisdiction of contempt handed to the court is to uphold the integrity of court and also to have unbiased and smooth functioning of judicial administration. The power of contempt given by the constitution is with a trust of fair and efficient exercise of it. Judiciary is seen as an institution where the right of the citizens are protected and justice is delivered. Citizens sees judiciary as an apex institution of protection so when judicial authorities by their acts bring the institution into shame, they need to be condemned for the same. There is no deny in a fact that judiciary being a huge authority with various duties and responsibilities there are some criticism which they are likely to face. However, judiciary have to have a big heart and welcome the criticisms which are positive and also within the limit of fairness. The judiciary over a past few years having dealt with various circumstances have moved to a point of maturity to face criticism also at the same time not allowing behaviours which degrades the majesty of the court.



1. The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.

2. The Constitution of India.



a. Harshita Tomar & Nayan Jain, “Contempt of Court: A Challenge To Rule Of Law – A Critical Analysis”, Journal on Contemporary Issues of Law (JCIL), Volume No. 2, Issue 7 (September 2016).

b. Ms. Priyanka Oberoi, “Contempt of Court in India”, ICAN Conference at Noida, (March 2018).

c. Prof. Kamlesh M. Pandya, “The Concept Of Contempt Of Court In India”, Paripex – Indian Journal of Research, Volume No. 7, Issue 5, [ISSN No. 2250-1991], (May 2018).

d. Priya Vaishnav, “Evolution Of Law Regarding Contempt Of Court”, International Journal of Creative Research Thoughts (IJCRT), Volume 8, Issue 6, [ISSN: 2320-2882], (June 2020).

e. G.V. Mahesh Nath & Audhi Narayana Vavili, “Contempt of Court and Free Expression -Need for a Delicate Balance”, (December 5, 2008)

f. Mohd Asif, “Freedom of speech & expression: A study under the backdrop of 200th law commission report” , International Journal of Law, Volume 5, Issue 2, [ISSN – 2455 – 2194] (March 2018)


a. Law of Contempt of Court in India by K. Balasankaran Nair.








[1]Harshita Tomar & Nayan Jain, “Contempt of Court: A Challenge To Rule Of Law – A Critical Analysis”, Journal on Contemporary Issues of Law (JCIL), Volume No. 2, Issue 7 (September 2016).

[2] Ms. Priyanka Oberoi, “Contempt of Court in India”, ICAN Conference at Noida, (March 2018).

[3]Prof. Kamlesh M. Pandya, “The Concept Of Contempt Of Court In India”, Paripex – Indian Journal of Research, Volume No. 7, Issue 5, [ISSN No. 2250-1991], (May 2018).

[4] Priya Vaishnav, “Evolution Of Law Regarding Contempt Of Court”, International Journal of Creative Research Thoughts (IJCRT), Volume 8, Issue 6, [ISSN: 2320-2882], (June 2020).

[5] The Contempt of Court Act, 1926, § 2, 1926 (India).

[6]India Const. art 129.

[7]India Const. art 215.

[8]Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, § 15, Act of Parliament, 1971, (India).

[9] Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, § 3, Act of Parliament, 1971, (India).

[10] Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, § 4, Act of Parliament, 1971, (India).

[11] Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, § 5, Act of Parliament, 1971, (India).

[12] Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, § 6, Act of Parliament, 1971, (India).

[13]Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, § 7, Act of Parliament, 1971, (India).

[14]Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, § 12, Act of Parliament, 1971, (India).

[15]Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, § 13, Act of Parliament, 1971, (India).

[16] Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, § 14, Act of Parliament, 1971, (India).

[17] Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, § 18, Act of Parliament, 1971, (India).

[18] India Const. art. 19, cl. (1) (a).

[19] India Const. art 19, cl. (2).

[20]Re: Arundhati Roy v/s Unknown, [AIR 2002 SC 1375, (2002) 3 SCC 343]

[21]India Const. art. 32.

[22] S. Mulgaokar V/s Unknown, [(1978) 3 SCC 339, 1978 3 SCR 162].

[23]P. N Duda V/s P. Shanker and Ors, [AIR 1988 SC 1208]

[24]Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, § 15 (1) (a) (b), Act of Parliament, 1971, (India).

[25] Re: Prashant Bhushan and Anr, [Contempt Petition (CRL.) No.1 OF 2020]

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