New Delhi: The power to punish for contempt
is necessary to secure public respect and confidence in the
judicial process but it should be used with greater
responsibility, the Supreme Court has said.
While quashing a High Court order, a bench of justices HL
Dattu and CK Prasad, observed that fair comments on legal
issues do not amount to contempt.
"In our opinion, it is criminal contempt to voice opinion
on a case pending in court as that would seem to influence the
outcome of the matter and to prejudice the parties therein.
"However, we hasten to add that fair reporting of court
proceedings and fair comments on the legal issues do not
amount to contempt."
The bench held that the power to initiate contempt
proceedings has been granted to the courts to carry out their
"It is only through the courts that rule of law unfolds
its contours and establishes its concept. For the judiciary to
carry out its obligations effectively and true to the spirit
with which it is sacredly entrusted the task, constitutional
courts have been given the power to punish for contempt," the
"This power though inherent to the High Court is given a
constitutional status by Article 215 of the Constitution. It
is to secure public respect and confidence in the judicial
process," it further said.
The apex court, however, cautioned that the power should
be used with greater responsibility and quashed the Karnataka
High Court order for initiating contempt proceeding against
industrialist H G Rangan Goud and the Under Secretary in
The High Court had initiated the contempt proceedings
against them after they tried to implement an order of the
single bench while an appeal on it was pending before a