Supreme Court initiates contempt proceedings against Prashant Bhushan

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News: The Supreme Court has initiated suo motu (on its own) contempt proceedings against lawyer Prashant Bhushan for his alleged derogatory tweets against the judiciary.

Facts:

  • Contempt of Court: As per the Contempt of Courts Act 1971, contempt refers to the offence of showing disrespect to the dignity or authority of a court.
  • Types: The act divides contempt into civil and criminal contempt.
    • Civil contempt: It is willful disobedience to a judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other processes of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to the court.
    • Criminal contempt: It means the publication (whether by words, spoken or written or by signs or by visible representations) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which
      • scandalises or tends to scandalise or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court; or
      • prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or
      • interferes or tends to interfere with or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.
  • Punishment: A contempt of court may be punished with:
    • Simple imprisonment which may extend to six months or 
    • Fine which may extend to two thousand rupees or With both.
    • However,the accused may also be discharged or the punishment awarded may be remitted on apology being made to the satisfaction of the court.

Additional Facts:

  • Constitutional Provisions Related to Contempt:
    • Article 129: Grants Supreme Court the power to punish for contempt of itself.
    • Article 142(2): Enables the Supreme Court to investigate and punish any person for its contempt.
    • Article 215: Grants every High Court the power to punish for contempt of itself.