Punishment for contempt of court
Article 129 and 215 empower the Supreme Court and the High Courts to punish its contempt.
Accordingly, Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 provides for punishment for contempt of court. It incorporates the type and extent of punishment which the courts can give for its contempt.
According to section 12 contempt may be punished either by simple imprisonment of 6 months or a fine of 2000 rupees or both. The further section makes it clear that the punishment for contempt cannot exceed the 6 month imprisonment and fine of 2000 rupees.
Thus this is the maximum punishment which the courts can give for contempt. The imprisonment should only be imposed if it is necessary to do so in the interest of justice.
In Smt. Pushpaben and another vs. Narandas V. Badiani and anothers, the Supreme Court said that the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 confers special power on the court to impose imprisonment and the court must give a special reason with a proper application of mind while giving a sentence of imprisonment. It further said that the Sentence of a fine is the rule while imprisonment is an exception.
In the Supreme Court bar association v. Union of India said that for imposing imprisonment, the contempt has to be serious enough and that it must consider the likelihood of interference with the administration of justice. Culpability of the offender and that the intention for the act of contempt is a crucial factor while considering Imprisonment as punishment for contempt.
Further, according to section 10 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, the High courts have the jurisdiction and authority to punish for the contempt of courts subordinate to it as well.
Remedies against the order of punishment:
following remedies are available against the punishment order under The Contempt of Court’s Act.
The contemnor may give an apology to the court and the court may remit the punishment awarded for contempt if the court is satisfied that the apology has been with a real sense of repentance.
Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 has provided for the statutory right of an appeal against the orders of the High Court passed in the exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for the contempt of court.
Before this act, there was no statutory right of appeal but even at that time, the person punished under this act was not remediless. The High Court itself could grant the certificate under Article 134 of the Indian Constitution and where the High Court refused to grant such certificate, the Supreme Court could entertain the appeal by granting special leave under Article 136 of the Constitution of India. So, the right to appeal before 1971 was dependent on the discretion of the court.