Wilful and deliberate disobedience of the Order of the Court is called Contempt of Court.
(a) Contempt of court” may be civil contempt or criminal contempt.
(b) “Civil contempt” means wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court.
(c) “Criminal contempt” means 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-
(d) Scandalizes or tends to scandalize, 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.[S.2 of Contempts of Courts Act]
Contempt by speech or writing may be by scandalizing the court itself, or by abusing parties to actions, or by prejudicing mankind in favor of or against a party before the case is heard. It is incumbent upon courts of justice to preserve their proceedings from being misrepresented, for prejudicing the mind of the people against persons concerned as parties in cases before the case is finally heard. Speech or writings misrepresenting the proceedings of the court of prejudicing the public for or against a party or involving reflections on parties to a proceeding amount to contempt. To make a speech tending to influence the result of a pending trial, whether civil or criminal is a grave contempt.
Punishment for Contempt of Court : a contempt of court may be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both.
Provided that the accused may be discharged or the punishment awarded may be remitted on apology being made to the satisfaction of the court.
no court shall impose a sentence in excess of that specified in sub section for any contempt either in respect of itself or of a court subordinate to it.
where a person is found guilty of a civil contempt, the court, if it considers that a fine will not meet the ends of justice and that a sentence of imprisonment is necessary shall, instead of sentencing him to simple imprisonment, direct that he be detained in a civil prison for such period not exceeding six months as it may think fit.
(4) Where the person found guilty of contempt of court in respect of any undertaking given to a court is a company, every person who, at the time the contempt was committed, was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the contempt and the punishment may be enforced, with the leave of the court, by the detention in civil prison of each such person.
Provided that nothing contained in this sub section shall render any such person liable to such punishment if he proves that the contempt was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent its commission.
(4) where the contempt of court referred to therein has been committed by a company and it is provided that the contempt has been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manger, secretary or other officer of the company, such director, manager , secretary or other officer shall also be deemed to be guilty of the contempt and the punishment may be enforced, with the leave of the court, by the detention in civil prison of such director, manager, secretary or other officer.
Explanation – For the purpose of sub sections (4) and (5)-
(a) “Company ” means any body corporate and includes a firm or other association of individuals, and
(b) “Director” in relation to a firm, means a partner in the firm.[S.12 Contempts of Courts Act]