CIVIL

What is the purpose of contempt jurisdiction

In Jhareswar Prasad Paul and Another Vs. Tarak Nath Ganguly and Others(AIR 2002 SC 2215 ), opined as extracted below:

“The purpose of contempt jurisdiction is to uphold the majesty and dignity of the courts of law, since the respect and authority commanded by the courts of law are the greatest guarantee to an ordinary citizen and the democratic fabric of society will suffer if respect for the judiciary is undermined. The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 has been introduced under the statute for the purpose of securing the feeling of confidence of the people in general for true and proper administration of justice in the country. The power to punish for contempt of court is a special power vested under the Constitution in the courts of record and also under the statute. The power is special and needs to be exercised with care and caution. It should be used sparingly by the courts on being satisfied regarding the true effect of contemptuous conduct. It is to be kept in mind that the court exercising the appellate court for determination of the disputes between the parties. The contempt jurisdiction should be confined to the question whether there has been any deliberate disobedience of the order of the court and if the conduct of the party who is alleged to have committed such disobedience is contumacious.

The court exercising contempt jurisdiction is not entitled to enter into questions which have not been dealt with and decided in the judgment or order, violation of which is alleged by the applicant. The court has to consider the direction issued in the judgment or order and not to consider the question as to what the judgment or order should have contained. At the cost of repetition, be it stated here that the court exercising contempt jurisdiction is primarily concerned with the question of contumacious conduct of the party, which is alleged to have committed deliberate default in complying with the directions in the judgment or order. If the judgment order does not contain any specific direction regarding a matter of if there is any ambiguity in the directions issued therein then it will be better to direct the parties to approach the court which disposed of the matter for clarification of the order instead of the court exercising contempt jurisdiction taking upon itself the power to decide the original proceeding in a manner not dealt with by the court passing the judgment or order. If this limitation is borne in mind then criticisms which are sometimes leveled against the courts exercising co tempt of court jurisdiction “that it has exceeded its powers in granting substantive relief and issuing a direction regarding the same without proper adjudication of the dispute” in its entirety can be avoided. This will also avoid multiplicity of proceedings because the party which is prejudicially affected by the judgment or order passed in he contempt proceeding and granting relief and issuing fresh directions is likely to challenge that order and that may give rise to another round of litigation arising from a proceeding which is intended to maintain the majesty and image of courts”.

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