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Report No. 274

Chapter - III

International Scenario

A. Pakistan

3.1 In Pakistan, the Contempt of Court Act, 1926 was the primary law in the field until it was repealed and replaced by the Contempt of Courts Act, 1976.

3.2 Additionally, Article 204 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 read with Entry 55 of the Federal Legislative List (Schedule IV to the Constitution) conferred contempt jurisdiction on the Supreme Court to punish for contempt of itself, which includes 'scandalizing of the court' or otherwise tends to bring the court or judge in relation to office into hatred, ridicule or contempt.

3.3 In 2003, the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 repealed the Contempt of Court Act, 1976. The said Ordinance was also later repealed and replaced by the Contempt of Courts Act, 2012. This Act 2012 made an exception that it shall not apply to the public office holders including the Prime Minister and other Ministers, and the expression 'scandalising the court' stood replaced by the expression 'scandalising a judge in relation to his office', among various other changes.

3.4 The Supreme Court of Pakistan in Baz Muhammed Kakar & Anr. v. Federation of Pakistan etc. etc. etc.54, declared the Act 2012 as unconstitutional on various grounds inter alia:

i) The acts of contempt liable to be punished under Article 204(2)(b) and some actions of contempt of court falling under Article 204(2)(c) were omitted from the definition of 'contempt of court' under section 3 of Act 2012.

ii) Powers of the Court stood reduced by incorporating the expression 'scandalising a judge in relation to his office', whereas in Article 204(2) the word 'court' had been used.

iii) Article 63(g) provided that if a person stood convicted/sentenced for ridiculing the judiciary, he would be disqualified to hold an office, while in section 3 of the Act 2012 such expression was omitted, and the expression 'scandalising of a judge' remained confined to 'in relation to his office'.

iv) Article 204(2) empowered the court to punish "any person" for its contempt without any exception, though section 3 of the Act 2012 granted exemption to the public office holders.

v) The provisions of Act 2012 had been designed to facilitate delay in disposal of contempt cases, which would not only erode the dignity of the court, but was also inconsistent with the doctrine of independence of judiciary.

vi) Moreover, section 8 of the Act 2012 regulated the transfer of proceedings in contempt matters which was in conflict with the prerogative of the Chief Justice being the administrative head of the court, and was violative of the principle of independence of judiciary.

3.5 The Supreme Court held that the Act 2012 was unconstitutional, void and non est, and as a consequence the Contempt of Court Ordinance of 2003 stood revived automatically.

3.6 It is evident that the expression 'scandalising the court' appears in Article 204(2) of the Constitution of Pakistan, which empowers the Court to punish 'any person' for committing its contempt.



Review of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 Back




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