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Report No. 274

Chapter - II

Existing Provisions

A. What is "contempt of court"?

2.1 As long ago as 1742 Lord Hardwicke L. C., delved into the meaning of the term "contempt of court", referring to three different kinds of actions that qualify as contempt of court: "One kind of contempt is scandalising the court itself. There may be likewise a contempt of this court in abusing parties who are concerned in causes here. There may also be a contempt of this court in prejudicing mankind against persons before the cause is heard."13

2.2 Halsbury's Law of England defining "contempt of court" states:

"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 or the lawful process of the court, is a contempt of court. Any episode in the administration of justice may, however be publicly or privately criticised, provided that the criticism is fair and temperate and made in good faith. The absence of any intention to refer to a court is a material point in favour of a person alleged to be in contempt."14

2.3 A contempt of court is a matter which concerns the administration of justice and the dignity and authority of judicial tribunals15. The law dealing with contempt of courts is for keeping the administration of justice pure and undefiled16; and, jurisdiction in contempt is not a right of a party to be invoked for the redressal of its grievances17.

Review of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 Back

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