Contempt of court is a court order which in the context of a court trial or hearing,
declares a person or organization to have disobeyed or been disrespectful of the
court's authority. Often referred to simply as "contempt," such as a person "held
in contempt," it is the judge's strongest power to impose sanctions for acts that
disrupt the court's normal process.
A finding of contempt of court may result from a failure to obey a lawful order
of a court, showing disrespect for the judge, disruption of the proceedings through
poor behaviour, or publication of material deemed likely to jeopardize a fair trial.
A judge may impose sanctions such as a fine or jail for someone found guilty of
contempt of court. Judges in common law systems usually have more extensive power
to declare someone in contempt than judges in civil law systems. The client or person
must be proven to be guilty before he/she will be punished.
Contempt of Court is of two types in India:
1. Civil Contempt Under Section 2(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971, civil
contempt has been defined as wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction,
order, writ or other process of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given
to a court.
2. Criminal Contempt Under Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971, criminal
contempt has been defined as 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.
(a) '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.