THE CONTEMPT OF COURTS ACT, 1971
[Act, No. 70 of 1971]
[24th December, 1971]
An Act to define and limit the powers of certain courts in punishing contempt of courts and to regulate their procedure in relation thereto.
BE it enacted by Parliament in the Twenty-second Year of the Republic of India as follows:--
Section 1. Short title and extent
(1)This Act may be called the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
(2) It extends to the whole of India:
Provided that it shall not apply to the State ofJammu and Kashmir except to the extent to which the provisions of this Act relate to contempt of theSupreme Court.
Section 2. Definitions
In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,--
(a) "contempt of court" means civil contempt or criminal contempt;
(b) "civil contempt" means wilful disobedience to any judgement, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court;
(c) 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--
(i) scandalises, or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court; or
(ii) prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or
(iii) interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner;
(d) "High Court" means the High Court for a State or a Union territory, and includes the court of the Judicial Commissioner in any Union territory.
Section 3. Innocent publication and distribution of matter not contempt
(1) A person shall not be guilty of contempt of court on the ground that he has published (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations, or otherwise) any matter which interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs, or tends to obstruct, the course of justice in connection with any civil or criminal proceeding pending at that time of publication, if at that time he had no reasonable grounds for believing that the proceeding was pending.
(2) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this Act or any other law for the time being in force, the publication of any such matter as is mentioned in sub-section (1) in connection with any civil or criminal proceeding which is not pending at the time of publication shall not be deemed to constitute contempt of court.
(3) A person shall not be guilty of contempt of court on the ground that he has distributed a publication containing any such matter as is mentioned in sub-section (1), if at the time of distribution he had no reasonable grounds for believing that it contained or was likely to contain any such matter as aforesaid:
Provided that this sub-section shall not apply in respect of the distribution of--
(i) any publication which is a book or paper printed or published otherwise than in conformity with the rules contained in section 3 of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867 (25 of 1867);
(ii) any publication which is a newspaper published otherwise than in conformity with the rules contained in section 5 of the said Act.
Explanation.--For the purposes of this section, a judicial proceeding--
(a) is said to be pending--
(A) in the case of a civil proceeding, when it is instituted by the filing of a plaint or otherwise,
(B) in the case of a criminal proceeding under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (5 of 1898)1, or any other law--
(i) where it relates to the commission of an offence, when the chargesheet or challan is filed, or when the court issues summons or warrant, as the case may be, against the accused, and
(ii) in any other case, when the court takes cognizance of the matter to which the proceeding relates, and
in the case of a civil or criminal proceeding, shall be deemed to continue to be pending until it is heard and finally decided, that is to say, ina case where an appeal or revision is competent, until the appeal or revision is heard and finally decided or, where no appeal or revision is preferred, until the period of limitation prescribed for such appeal or revision has expired;
(b) which has been heard and finally decided shall not be deemed to be pending merely by reason of the fact that proceedings for the execution of the decree, order or sentence passed therein are pending.
(c) make such order for the punishment or discharge of such person as may be just.
|1. Now see Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974).|
(d) make such order for the punishment or discharge of such person as may be just.
Section 4. Fair and accurate report of judicial proceeding not contempt
Subject to the provisions contained in section 7, a person shall not be guilty of contempt of court for publishing a fair and accurate report of a judicial proceeding or any stage thereof.
Section 5. Fair criticism of judicial act not contempt
A person shall not be guilty of contempt of court for publishing any fair comment on the merits of any case which has been heard and finally decided.
Section 6. Complaint against presiding officers of subordinate courts when not contempt
A person shall not be guilty of contempt of court in respect of any statement made by him in good faith concerning the presiding officer of any subordinate court to--
(a) any other subordinate court, or
(b) the High Court,
to which it is subordinate.
Explanation.In this section, "subordinate court" means any court subordinate to a High Court.
Section 7. Publication of information relating to proceeding in chambers or in camera not contempt except in certain cases
(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, a person shall not be guilty of contempt of court for publishing a fair and accurate report of a judicial proceeding before any court sitting in chambers or in camera except in the following cases, that is to say,--
(a) where the publication is contrary to the provisions of any enactment for the time being in force;
(b) where the court, on ground of public policy or in exercise of any power vested in it, expressly prohibits the publication of all information relating to the proceeding or of information of the description which is published;
(c) where the court sits in chambers or in camera for reason connected with public order or the security of the State, the publication of information relating to those proceedings;
(d) where the information relates to a secret process, discovery or invention which is an issue in proceedings.
(2) Without prejudice to the provisions contained in sub-section (1), a person shall not be guilty of contempt of court for publishing the text or a fair and accurate summary of the whole or any part, of an order made by a court sitting in chambers or in camera, unless the court has expressly prohibited the publication thereof on grounds of public policy, or for reasons connected with public order or the security of the State, or on the ground that it contains information relating to a secret process, discovery or invention, or in exercise of any power vested in it.
Section 8. Other defences not affected
Nothing contained in this Act shall be construed as implying that any other defence which would have been a valid defence in any proceedings for contempt of court has ceased to be available merely by reason of the provisions of this Act.
Section 9. Act not to imply enlargement of scope of contempt
Nothing contained in this Act shall be construed as implying that any disobedience, breach, publication or other act is punishable as contempt of court which would not be so punishable apart from this Act.
Section 10. Power of High Court to punish contempt of subordinate courts
Every High Court shall have and exercise the same jurisdiction, powers and authority, in accordance with the same procedure and practice, in respect of contempt of courts subordinate to it as it has and exercises in respect of contempt of itself:
Provided that no High Court shall take cognizance of a contempt alleged to have been committed in respect of a court subordinate to it where such contempt is an offence punishable under the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).
Section 11. Power of High Court to try offences committed or offenders found outside jurisdiction
A High Court shall have jurisdiction to inquire into or try a contempt of itself or of any court subordinate to it, whether the contempt is alleged to have been committed within or outside the local limits of its jurisdiction, and whether the person alleged to be guilty of contempt is within or outside such limits.
Section 12. Punishment for contempt of court
(1) Save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act or in any other law, a 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.
Explanation.--An apology shall not be rejected merely on the ground that it is qualified or conditional if the accused makes it bona fide.
(2) Notwithstanding a]nything contained in any law for the time being in force, no court shall impose a sentence in excess of that specified in sub-section (1) for any Contempt either in respect of itself or of a court subordinate to it.
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, where a person is found guilty of a civil contempt, the court, if it considers that a fine will not meet the ends of justice and that a sentence of imprisonment is necessary shall, instead of sentencing him to simple imprisonment, direct that he be detained in a civil prison for such period not exceeding six months as it may think fit.
(4) Where the person found guilty of contempt of court in respect of any undertaking given to a court is a company, every person who, at the time the contempt was committed, was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the contempt and the punishment may be enforced, with the leave of the court, by the detention in civil prison of each such person:
Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall render any such person liable to such punishment if he proves that the contempt was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent its commission.
(5) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (4), where the contempt of court referred to therein has been committed by a company and it is proved that the contempt has been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to, any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such director, manager, secretary or other officer shall also be deemed to be guilty of the contempt and the punishment may be enforced, with the leave of the court, by the detention in civil prison of such director, manager, secretary or other officer.
Explanation.--For the purpose of sub-sections (4) and (5)--
(a) "company" means any body corporate and includes a firm or other association of individuals; and
(b) "director", in relation to a firm, means a partner in the firm.
Section 13. Contempts not punishable in certain cases
1[13. Contempts not punishable in certain cases --
Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, --
(a) no court shall impose a sentence under this Act for a contempt of court unless it is satisfied that the contempt is of such a nature that it substantially interferes, or tends substantially to interfere with the due course of justice;
(b) the court may permit, in any proceeding for contempt of court, justification by truth as a valid defence if it is satisfied that it is in public interest and the request for invoicing the said defence is bonafide".
| 1.Substituted by the Contempt of Courts (Amendment) Act, 2006 (6 of 2006). Prior to the substitution it was read as:|
Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, no court shall impose a sentence under this Act for a contempt of court unless it is satisfied that the contempt is of such a nature that it substantially interferes, or tends substantially to interfere with the due course of justice.
Section 14. Procedure where contempt is in the face of the Supreme Court or a High Court
(1) When it is alleged, or appears to the Supreme Court or the High Court upon its own view, that a person has been guilty of contempt committed in its presence or hearing, the court may cause such person to be detained in custody, and, at any time before the rising of the court, on the same day, or as early as possible thereafter, shall--
(a) cause him to be informed in writing of the contempt with which he is charged;
(b) afford him an opportunity to make his defence to the charge;
(c) after taking such evidence as may be necessary or as may be offered by such person and after hearing him, proceed, either forthwith or after adjournment, to determine the matter of the charge; and
(d) make such order for the punishment or discharge of such person as may be just.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where a person charged with contempt under that sub-section applies, whether orally or in writing, to have the charge against him tried by some judge other than the judge or judges in whose presence or hearing the offence is alleged to have been committed, and the court is of opinion that it is practicable to do so and that in the interests of proper administration of justice the application should be allowed, it shall cause the matter to be placed, together with a statement of the facts of the case, before the Chief justice for such directions as he may think fit to issue as respects the trial thereof.
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, in any trial of a person charged with contempt under sub-section (1) which is held, in pursuance of a direction given under sub-section (2), by a judge other than the Judge or Judges in whose presence or hearing the offence is alleged to have been committed, it shall not be necessary for the judge or judges in whose presence or hearing the offence is alleged to have been committed to appear as a witness and the statement placed before the Chief justice under sub- section (2) shall be treated as evidence in the case.
(4) Pending the determination of the charge, the court may direct that a person charged with contempt under this section shall be detained in such custody as it may specify:
Provided that he shall be released on bail, if a bond for such sum of money as the court thinks sufficient is executed with or without sureties conditioned that the person charged shall attend at the time and place mentioned in the bond and shall continue to so attend until otherwise directed by the court:
Provided further that the court may, if it thinks fit instead of taking bail from such person, discharge him on his executing a bond without sureties for his attendance as aforesaid.