Contempt of Court - Civil Contempt

According to S.2(a) of Contempt of Courts Act 1971, provides , “Contempt of court” means civil contempt or criminal contempt.
That means There are two categories of Contempt of Court.

1)Civil Contempt and;


2) Criminal Contempt of Court.


1) Civil Contempt -

According to Section 2(b) “Civil contempt” means willful disobedience to any judgement, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court or willful breach of an undertaking given to a court.
Civil contempt involves only the willful disobedience of the courts order or breach of undertaking given to the court. The purpose of the proceedings for the Civil contempt is not only to punish the contemner but also to exercise enforcement and obedience to the order of the court.
Civil contempt serves  two purposes are as follows...

I) Vindication of the public interest by punishment of contemptuous conduct; and

II) coercion compel the contemner to do what the court requires of him.

To constitutes 'civil contempt' the following are required to be proved...

A) there is disobedience of the order, decree etc. of the court or breach of undertaking given to the court.

B) The disobedience or breach is wilfull.

               For civil contempt it is necessary that the order which has been decided must have been passed by the court having jurisdiction to pass such order. If the order has been passed without jurisdiction, it is not binding on the party against which it has been passed and therefore, the disobedience of such order will not amount to contempt of court.  The burden to prove that the court has no jurisdiction to pass the order lies on the person who alleges it.

                When the court orders a person to do something or not to do something , it is incumbent on that party to comply with that order forthwith. The person disobeying the order of the court will alone be responsible for the consequence and he cannot be heard to say that he referred the matter to his higher officer.

                 The breach of undertaking given to the court is also taken as contempt if it is wilful. The basis for taking the breach of undertaking has contempt of court is that the container by making a false representation to the court obtains a benefit for himself and if he fails to Honour the undertaking, he plays a serious fraud on the Court itself and thereby obstructs the course of justice and beings disrepute to the judicial institution. But the breach of undertaking recorded on forming part of compromise decree, would not amount to contempt of court.

              The essence of the Civil contempt is willful disobedience to any judgement, decree,  direction, order or writ of a Court, and not Mere inaction to give effect to it. The conduct of the alleged contemner must be wilful showing deliberate and conscious disregard of the courts order , or a despising or disdainful attitude towards the verdict of the court .

               If a party who has full knowledge of the order of the court or is conscious and aware of the consequence and implications of the courts order, ignores it or acts in  violation of the courts order, it must be held that disobedience is willful .

               Whether the disobedience has been wilful or not is an issue to be decided by the court taking into account the facts, the circumstances of the case.


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