It is commonly believed that disobedience of order of the Court tantamount to
Contempt of Court. In common parlance, this is probably the only connotation of
'Contempt of Court'.
Contempt of court is defined as a legal violation committed by an individual who
disobeys a judge or otherwise disrupts the legal process in the courtroom.
Contempt of court is the offense of being disobedient to or disrespectful toward
a court of law and its officers in the form of behavior that opposes or defies
the authority, justice, and dignity of the court.
It would be apposite to refer to the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 which defines
'contempt of court' thus:
- contempt of court means civil contempt or criminal contempt;
- 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;
- 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:
- 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;
However, the Apex Court has enlarged the definition of 'Contempt of Court' to
also include tendering of false affidavit/undertaking in Court. The Apex Court
recently in the case of Suo-Motu Contempt Petition (Civil) No. 3 of 2021 in Re:
Perry Kansagra decided on 11 July 2022 held that a person who makes a false
statement before the Court and makes an attempt to deceive the Court or
interferes with the administration of justice is guilty of contempt of Court.
The Apex Court in a catena of cases has consistently held that tendering of
affidavits and undertakings containing false statement would amount to criminal
contempt. The Apex Court in Pushpadevi M. Jatia v. M.L. Wadhawan
SCC 367 held that a false statement on oath is an offence punishable under
Section 181 of the IPC while furnishing false information with intent to cause
public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person is
punishable under Section 182 IPC.
It would be trite to refer to Chandra Shashi v. Anil Kumar Verma
SCC 421 wherein the Apex Court categorically held that a person who makes an
attempt to deceive the court, interferes with the administration of justice can
be held guilty of contempt of court. In that case a husband who had filed a
fabricated document to oppose the prayer of his wife seeking transfer of
matrimonial proceedings was found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to
two weeks' imprisonment.
The Court observed thus:
- The stream of administration of justice has to remain unpolluted so that
purity of court's atmosphere may give vitality to all the organs of the
State. Polluters of judicial firmament are, therefore, required to be well
taken care of to maintain the sublimity of court's environment; so also to
enable it to administer justice fairly and to the satisfaction of all
- Anyone who takes recourse to fraud, deflects the course of judicial
proceedings; or if anything is done with oblique motive, the same interferes
with the administration of justice. Such persons are required to be properly
dealt with, not only to punish them for the wrong done, but also to deter
others from indulging in similar acts which shake the faith of people in the
system of administration of justice.
14. The legal position thus is that if the publication be with intent to deceive
the court or one made with an intention to defraud, the same would be contempt,
as it would interfere with administration of justice. It would, in any case,
tend to interfere with the same. This would definitely be so if a fabricated
document is filed with the aforesaid mens rea. In the case at hand the
fabricated document was apparently to deceive the court; the intention to
defraud is writ large. Anil Kumar is, therefore, guilty of contempt.
Similarly, in the case of Dhananjay Sharma v. State of Haryana
SCC 757, the Apex Court held that filing of a false affidavit was the basis for
initiation of action in contempt jurisdiction and punished the persons
It would be relevant to refer to K.D. Sharma v. SAIL
(2008) 12 SCC 481
wherein the Apex Court dealing with this issue held as under:
39.If the primary object as highlighted in Kensington Income Tax Commrs. [R.
v. General Commissioners
for Purposes of Income Tax Acts For District of
Kensington, ex p Princess Edmond De Polignac, (1917) 1KB 486 : 86 LJKB 257 : 116
LT 136 (CA)] is kept in mind, an applicant who does not come with candid facts
and clean breast cannot hold a writ of the court with soiled hands.
Suppression or concealment of material facts is not an advocacy. It is a
jugglery, manipulation, manoeuvring or misrepresentation, which has no place in
equitable and prerogative jurisdiction. If the applicant does not disclose all
the material facts fairly and truly but states them in a distorted manner and
misleads the court, the court has inherent power in order to protect itself and
to prevent an abuse of its process to discharge the rule nisi and refuse to
proceed further with the examination of the case on merits.
If the court does not reject the petition on that ground, the court would be
failing in its duty. In fact, such an applicant requires to be dealt with for
contempt of court for abusing the process of the court.
It will also be apropos to refer to the following observations of the Apex Court
in Kanwar Singh Saini v. High Court of Delhi
(2012) 4 SCC 307 wherein the
Court reiterated a similar view:
30. In an appropriate case where exceptional circumstances exist, the court may
also resort to the provisions applicable in case of civil contempt, in case of
violation/breach of undertaking/judgment/order or decree.
The Apex Court in ABCD v. Union of India
(2020) 2 SCC 52 followed the
precedents and reiterated the said dictum.
The Apex Court in the Perry Kansagra case (supra) discussed in length the
earlier precedents and summed up thus:
15.It is thus well settled that a person who makes a false statement before the
Court and makes an attempt to deceive the Court, interferes with the
administration of justice and is guilty of contempt of Court. The extracted
portion above clearly shows that in such circumstances, the Court not only has
the inherent power but it would be failing in its duty if the alleged contemnor
is not dealt with in contempt jurisdiction for abusing the process of the Court.
It is imperative that the litigants should not misstate any fact so as to
deceive the Court to obtain favourable order nor should file any false
affidavit/undertaking else they are bound to attract the ire of the Court and
liable for prosecution for Contempt of Court.
Written By: Inder Chand Jain
Email: [email protected]
, Ph no: 8279945021