Evolution of Contempt of Court: Historical Analysis and Comparative Perspectives in the UK, USA, and India

  • Jayant Kashyap and Pranay Bhardwaj
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  • Jayant Kashyap

    Student at Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Visakhapatnam, India

  • Pranay Bhardwaj

    Student at Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Visakhapatnam, India

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The research paper provides an extensive overview of the concept of “contempt of court” and its historical evolution in legal systems across various countries, with a primary focus on the United Kingdom, the United States, and India. It delves into the background, definitions, types, and significance of contempt of court, discussing how it aims to uphold the integrity and authority of the judicial system. The paper traces the historical development of contempt of court from its origins in early legal systems, where it was used to maintain the dignity of the court and ensure compliance with its orders. It highlights the transition from the discretionary power of monarchs to the three branches of governance in democratic societies, leading to the need for a balanced approach to contempt laws. The analysis centers on the Indian context, detailing the evolution of contempt laws in the country. It covers key legislations such as the Contempt of Court Act of 1926, its shortcomings, and subsequent amendments. The Contempt of Court Act of 1971 is discussed in detail, highlighting the complexities and challenges associated with balancing freedom of expression and personal liberty against the preservation of the court’s decorum and authority. The paper also explores significant legal cases, both in India and internationally, that have shaped the interpretation of contempt of court. Notable cases include instances where criticism of the judiciary was considered contemptuous and led to legal actions. The paper underscores the tension between protecting freedom of speech and maintaining the judiciary’s integrity and analyzes recent controversies surrounding the interpretation and application of contempt laws. Ultimately, the paper concludes by suggesting the importance of striking a balance between freedom of expression and contempt of court, emphasizing the discretionary nature of contempt jurisdiction. It advocates for a clear distinction between criticism and contempt, along with a cautious approach to exercising contempt jurisdiction only when the integrity of the judicial system is genuinely at risk.


Research Paper


International Journal of Law Management and Humanities, Volume 6, Issue 4, Page 2564 - 2577

DOI: https://doij.org/10.10000/IJLMH.115682

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