When contempt proceeding would not be maintainable

Contempt of court is a matter which deserves to be dealt with all seriousness.

In Mrityunjoy Das and Anr. v. Sayed Hasibur Rahman and Ors. (2001) 3 SCC 739, this Court held:

13. Before however, proceeding with the matter any further, be it noted that exercise of powers under the Contempt of Courts Act shall have to be rather cautious and use of it rather sparingly after addressing itself to the true effect of the contemptuous conduct. The court must otherwise come to a conclusion that the conduct complained of tantamounts to obstruction of justice which if allowed, would even permeate in our society (vide Murray & Co. v. Ashok Kr. Newatia). This is a special jurisdiction conferred on to the law courts to punish “an offender for his contemptuous conduct or obstruction the majesty of law.

In Chhotu Ram Vs. Urvashi Gulati and Another, , this Court held that a contempt of court proceeding being quasi criminal in nature, the burden to prove would be upon the person who made such an allegation. A person cannot be sentenced on mere probability. Willful disobedience and contumacious conduct is the basis on which a contemnor can be punished. Such a finding cannot be arrived at on ipse dixit of the court. It must be arrived at on the materials brought on record by the parties.

Yet again in Anil Ratan Sarkar and Others Vs. Hirak Ghosh and Others, , it was opined:

15. It may also be noticed at this juncture that mere disobedience of an order may not be sufficient to amount to a ‘civil contempt’ within the meaning of Section 2(b) of the Act of 1971 – the element of willingness is an indispensable requirement to bring home the charge within the meaning of the Act and lastly, in the event two interpretations are possible and the action of the alleged contemnor pertains to one such interpretation – the act or acts cannot be ascribed to be otherwise contumacious in nature. A doubt in the matter as regards the willful nature of the conduct if raised, question of success in a contempt petition would not arise.

In Dr. Prodip Kumar Biswas Vs. Subrata Das and Others, , after noticing various provisions of the Calcutta High Court Rules held:

The Court may, however, in a contempt proceeding take such evidence as may be considered necessary. Admittedly, rule nisi was not drawn up. In fact, it seems that neither was any notice of contempt issued to the appellant nor any hearing took place except what has been noticed hereinbefore.

The contempt of court is a special jurisdiction to be exercised sparingly and with caution whenever an act adversely affects the administration of justice or which tends to impede its course or tends to shake public confidence in the judicial institutions. This jurisdiction may also be exercised when the act complained of adversely affects the majesty of law or dignity of the courts. The purpose of contempt jurisdiction is to uphold the majesty and dignity of the courts of law: (See Supreme Court Bar Assn. v. Union of India)

Recently in Sushila Raje Holkar Vs. Anil Kak (Retd.), , this Court held:

It is a well settled principle of law that if two interpretations are possible of the order which is ambiguous, a contempt proceeding would not be maintainable.

It was furthermore opined that the effect and purport of the order should be taken into consideration and the same must be read in its entirety.

%d bloggers like this: