UPSC CSE Mains Syllabus: GS-2-  Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

In news:

An anachronism in a democracy:

In India, the Contempt of Court Act of 1971 recognizes two types of contempt:  

  1. Civil contempt 
  2. Criminal contempt.

Civil contempt is defined as willful disobedience of any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court or willful breach of an undertaking given by a court.  

Criminal Contempt: 

Under Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971, criminal contempt has been defined as the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which: 

(i) Scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court, or 

(ii) Prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with the due course of any judicial proceeding, or

(iii) Interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.


Judiciaries reasoning:

In one of the judgements (In re: Arundhati Roy, 2002), the SC had reasoned that contempt of court is the only weapon to restore public confidence in the independence of the judiciary and maintain the rule of law.  

According to the SC, the Judiciary in the country is under a constant threat and being endangered from within and without. The need of the time is of restoring confidence amongst the people for the independence of Judiciary.” 

There can be no doubt that the Judiciary as a public institution needs to be respected in a civilized society.  

However a pertinent question remains if public institution should be propped up through laws or command respect through their conduct.  

Contempt of Court and freedom of expression 

A case for freedom of speech: 

Five years ago, in Shreya Singhal, the apex court expanded the contours of freedom of speech and Article 19. The Supreme Court’s contempt case against Bhushan shrinks that space — and itself.

Source:”The Hindu”.


In Shreya Singhal, the apex court expanded the contours of freedom of speech and Article 19. However, the same rights are contradicted when it comes to contempt of the court. Critically examine.