Appointment of Judges Cases :

Justice is not a cloistered virtue. It must be allowed to suffer the scrutiny and control spoken comments of ordinary men – Lord Atkin in Andre Paul Vs Attorney general of Trinidad[1].

In Supreme Court Bar Association Vs Union of India[2] and another plenary power and contempt jurisdiction of the Supreme Court came up for the consideration of this court and in that context Article 129, 142, 144 and 215* of the constitution were noticed. This court held that their inherent jurisdiction. The existence and availability of such power being essential to enable the courts and to uphold the majority of law and prevent interference in the due administration of Justice. 

No act of Parliament can take away that inherent jurisdiction of the court of record to punish for contempt and Parliament power of legislation on the subject cannot be so exercised as to stultify the status and dignity of the Supreme Court and / or the High Court’s though such a legislation may serve as a guide for their determination of the nature of punishment which a Court of Record may impose in the case of established contempt.

This contempt of courts is an act of defiance of court authority or dignity. It is a conduct that is disobedient, obstructive or contemptuous to the court. The alleged contempt has to be weighed against the words of Justice Atkn in Ambard Vs Attorney General for Trinidad[3] who observed – Justice is not a clustered virtue, it must be allowed to suffer the scrutiny and Control, even if outspoken, comments of ordinary men. In Helmore Vs Smith [4]according to Justice Bowen wrote “the object of discipline enforced by the court in case of contempt is not to vindicate the dignity of the court or the person of the Judge, but to prevent undue interference with the administration of Justice” of contempt of court Lard Denning wrote this in Moris Vs Crown Office[5] “of all the places where law and order must be maintained, it is here in these courts. 

The courts of Justice must not be deflected or interfered with. Those who strike at it, strike at the very foundations of our society, to maintain law and order. The Judges have, and must have, power at once to deal with those who offend against it. It is a great power, a power instantly to imprison a person without a trial – but it is a necessary power. “In Austman and Oddson Vs BJarnason[6] contempt is a disobedience to the court, an opposing or despising the authority, Justice, or dignity”. “It commonly consists in despising a party’s doing something otherwise than he is enjoined to do, or not doing what he is commanded or required by the process, order to decree of the court. 

[1] AIR 1936 PC 141 

[2] 1998 (4) SCC 409 

* Article 129 – Supreme Court to be a Court of Record. 

* Article 142 – Enforcement of decrees and orders of Supreme Court and orders as to discovery. 

* Article 144 – Civil and Judicial Authorities to act in aid of the Supreme Court. 

* Article 215 – High Courts to be courts of record. 

[3] 1936 AC 322 

[4] 1887 35 CH.D 449 

[5] 1970 (2) QB 114 

[6] 1932 (2) WWR 20 

* Article 139 – Conferment on the Supreme Court of powers to issue certain writs.


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