Explained: Power to Punish for Contempt of Court cannot be taken away by Parliament- Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has held that the power to punish for Contempt of Court possessed by Judicial institutions cannot be abridged or taken away by the Parliament through any bill or law. Try to understand this statement of the apex court in the article below.
Contempt of Court- SC
Contempt of Court- SC

The Supreme Court of India has said recently that the Court's power to punish for its contempt cannot be taken away by the Parliament. The apex court explained that the powers are vested in the Courts which are the places to observe justice and no contempt can be tolerated there. These powers as per the SC, cannot be abridged or taken away even through legislative enactments. 

Supreme Court's decision: What happened?

The statement given by the Supreme Court is a result of the recent attempts made in the case of Suraz India Trust's Chairman, Rajiv Daiya being found guilty of contempt of court as he tried to scandalize the events. The court marked that he tried to bring down the judiciary in the eyes of the public and impair the administration of justice of the judicial body. 

The Court held that the reason for the court to have the power to punish for the contempt was to maintain the dignity of the institution and judiciary. "It is not a vindictive exercise nor are inappropriate statements by themselves capable of lowering the dignity of the Judge. These are often ignored but where despite all latitude, a perennial litigant seeks to justify his existence by throwing mud at all and sundry, the Court has to step in", it added. 

The Court also said that the Judges perform their duties for larger good, and litigants who are facing any issues cannot be permitted to say anything against it or pay any disparaging remarks against the judgement or the judges or the court and later apologize. 

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What is Contempt of Court?

As per the Constitution's Article 129 shows that the Court can punish the contempt made against it. However the expression, Contempt of Court has not been defined by the Constitution. Contempt of court is the power of the court to protect its own majesty and respect. The power is regulated but not restricted in the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.

In Article 215, the powers were conferred on High Courts as well. 

What is a Civil and Criminal Contempt?

Civil contempt happens when wilful disobedience is done to any judgment of the court.

Criminal contempt can be something that

  1. Tends to scandalise or lower the authority of the court.
  2. Tends to interfere with the due course of any judicial proceeding.
  3. Obstruct the administration of justice

Punishment of Contempt of Court:

A contempt of court may be punishable with simple imprisonmenyt upto 6 months or a fine upto INR 2000 or both. The court can also discharge the punishment or remit it on the basis of satisfactory apology made by the person. 

Why can't the Parliament take away the Power to Punish for the contempt of Court?

Contempt of the Court comes under Article 129, which makes it the Court's Constitutional Power, thus it cannot be abridged or taken away by the Parliament through any Act or Legislation. Also in Article 142 (2) it is stated, “subject to the provisions of any law made in this behalf by Parliament” the Supreme Court shall have all and every power to make any order on punishment of any contempt of itself.

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