Power of court to punish for contempt

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Recently the Supreme Court has clarified that the power of the court to punish for contempt cannot be curtailed by any law.

The Supreme Court has clarified the existing difference between Article 142 and Article 129 of the Constitution of India.

According to the court, the power to punish for contempt is a constitutional power, which cannot be abrogated or void even by a legislative act.

However the power to punish for any contempt of itself (the court) under Article 142(2) is subject to the provisions of any law made by a legislative act. Provided that so far as article 129 is concerned, there is no such legal restriction in its context.

The power to punish for contempt of court protects judicial institutions from motivated attacks and unauthorized criticisms. It also provides a legal mechanism to punish those who limit or reduce the authority of the courts.

The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, along with providing it statutory backing, also lays down the procedure and punishment.

The Act divides contempt into:

  • Civil contempt means willful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of any court.
  • Criminal contempt includes the publication of anything (whether by words spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations, or otherwise) or the doing of any other act which brings disrepute to the court, or or who undermines his authority or interferes with judicial proceedings or administration of justice.
  • Punishment for contempt of court includes simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months and/or fine which may extend to Rs. 2,000.

Source – The Hindu

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