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Report No. 274

B. Ex facie contempt

5.14 It is specifically provided in the Constitution that an order of the Supreme Court is law of the land. Anyone against such order tantamounts to ex-facie contempt. In Advocate General, State of Bihar v. M/s. Madhya Pradesh Khair Industries, AIR 1980 SC 946, the Supreme Court observed that "Judiciary is the bed rock and hand-maid of orderly life and civilised society. If the people would lose faith in justice imparted by the highest court of the land, woe be to orderly life. The fragment of civilised society would get broken up and crumble down."

5.15 Taking a serious note of the contempt committed by the respondent in Delhi Development Authority v. Skipper Construction Co. (Pvt.) Ltd. & Anr. (supra), the Supreme Court observed that apology cannot be used as an instrument to purge the contempt and held that "The conduct of the contemnors tends to bring the authority and administration of law into disrespect or even disregard.... Abuse of the process of court calculated to hamper the due course of judicial proceeding the orderly administration of justice is a contempt of court."

5.16 Further, in Shri Baradakanta Mishra v. The Registrar of Orissa High Court & Anr. (supra), the Supreme Court observed:

"Judges and Courts have diverse duties. But functionally, historically and jurisprudentially, the value which is dear to the community and the function which deserves to be cordoned off from public molestation, is judicial. Vicious criticism of personal and administrative acts of judges may indirectly mar their image and weaken the confidence of the public in the judiciary but the countervailing good, not merely of free speech but also of greater faith generated by exposure to the actinic light of bona fide, even if marginally overzealous, criticism cannot be overlooked."

5.17 In Dr. D.C. Saxena v. Hon'ble the Chief Justice of India, AIR 1996 SC 2481, the Court considered serious allegations made by the contemnor against the then Chief Justice of India, as an impulse to the order of the Supreme Court disallowing a writ petition filed by him. The Court observed that "any act done, or writing published, which is calculated to bring a court or a judge into contempt or to lower his authority or to interfere with the due course of justice is a contempt of the Court: scurrilous abuse of a judge or court, or attacks on the personal character of a judge are acts of contempt".

Review of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 Back

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