November 21, 2018
November 23, 2018


Contempt in simplistic terms means defiance or willful disobedience of the authority, justice and dignity of the court. Contempt of Court is succinctly described by the Bench of J.S. Khehar, J. and K.S Radhakrishnan, J. in the Supreme Court of India in Subrata Roy Sahara versus Union of India: “Non-compliance of the orders passed by this court shakes the very foundation of the judicial system and undermines the rule of law, which we are bound to honor and protect. This is essential to maintain the faith and confidence of people of this country in the judiciary.”[1] In Halsbury’s laws of England “Contempt of Court” is defined as
“Any act done or writing published which is calculated to bring a court or a Judge into contempt, or to lower his authority, or to interfere with the due course of justice or the lawful process of the court, is a contempt of court. Any episode in the administration of justice may, however be publicly or privately criticized, provided that the criticism is fair and temperate and made in good faith. The absence of any intention to refer to a court is a material point in favor of a person alleged to be in contempt.”[2]
The provision of contempt of court is to maintain then dignity and authority of judicial institution[3] and to keep the administration of justice pure and undefiled.[4] To facilitate an uninterrupted administration of justice the provision of contempt of court equips the court with a solution to punish those who attempt to defy the decisions and orders of court thus bringing disrepute to the institution of judiciary and undermining its authority. It is violation of principle of rule of law.[5]
The burning issue to be addressed here the blatant disregard and violation of orders of court and thus jeopardizing the enforcement of judicial orders. In this context let’s examine the issue of current protests against entry of women in Sabarimala temple. The Sabarimala temple in Kerala closed for devotees without even a single woman between age of 10-50 years entering the temple, amid the high drama and tensions in Kerala which is grave violation of judgment of 5-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court which allowed entry of menstruating women to Sabarimala temple.[6]
It is hard to understand why the Supreme Court did not suo moto take cognizance of the violation of its judgment. In fact, Article 144 of the Constitution[7] makes all civil and judicial authorities, in the territory of India bound to act in the aid of the Supreme Court. Further, Article 141 of the Constitution[8] makes the judgment of the Supreme Court ‘law of the land’. It is nothing but violation of law of the land and failure of civil authorities of Kerala to discharge their constitutional duty. The Supreme Court, envisioned as ‘Guardian of our Constitution’, by founders of the Constitution, failed to protect fundamental rights of women in Kerala.
It is worrisome to watch that the contemnors have been orchestrating various marches, rallies, social media campaigns wherein calls and speeches are made by the contemnors to resist implementation of the judgment of the Supreme Court. Mr. P.S Sreedharan Pillai is stated to have organized a thousand-strong mob at Nilakkal and nearby areas at the foothill of Sabarimala on 17.10.2018 by attacking the public property and by stopping vehicles that crossed through the road and by attacking women devotees who had arrived to visit Sabarimala.[9] Mr. Muraleedharan Unnithan is indicted for saying in a protest march against the judgment that the Constitution should be burned to ground.
Hence it is submitted that the ingredients of a criminal contempt are clearly met as per Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971[10] as there is clear case of scandalizing and lowering of authority of this Hon’ble Court by interfering and obstructing with the administration of justice by resisting the implementation of judgment of this Hon’ble Court. Therefore, it is requested to the Supreme Court to acknowledge that the conduct and actions of the Contemnors are acts of criminal contempt of court, punishable under Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971[11] and must take appropriate actions to preserve the rule of Law and institutional sanctity of judiciary in country.
When there is an attempt deliberately conceived to malign and scandalize the court it results into the shaken confidence of public in the system and an irreparable dame is caused to the fair name of judiciary.[12] Non-implementation of decision of court will have deleterious impact on image of judiciary in public perception. It is the duty of the Supreme Court to initiate contempt against the government of Kerala and administration of Sabarimala temple to implement its orders. If this is not done, the right of women to enter Sabarimala temple remains on paper and which is nothing short of denial of right itself. It is the high time when authorities must recognize the menacing attack on institution of judiciary and the court must come up with a detailed framework to implement its decision strictly. The issue of Sabarimala present an opportunity to the judiciary to stand firm with the elements who outrage the integrity of institution.



[1] Subrata Roy Sahara versus Union of India, (2014) 8 SCC 470.

[2] Halsbury’s Laws of England (3rd Edn., Vol. 8) at p. 7.

[3] A. Ramalingam v. V. V. Mahalinga Nadar, AIR 1966 Mad. 21.

[4] Bineet Kumar Singh, AIR 2001 SC 2018.

[5] Kapildeo Prasad Sah & Ors. v. State of Bihar & Ors., (1999) 7 SCC 569.

[6] Indian young lawyers association v State of Kerala, 373 of 2006

[7] Article 144, The Constitution Of India,1949. Civil and judicial authorities to act in aid of the Supreme Court All authorities, civil and judicial, in the territory of India shall act in aid of the Supreme Court

[8] Article 141, The Constitution Of India, 1949. Law declared by Supreme Court to be binding on all courts The law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all courts within the territory of India

[9] Sabarimala Temple protests: What is happening in Kerala, The Indian Express, October 19, 2018.

[10] Section 2(c), Contempt of Courts act, 1971.

[11] Section 12, Contempt of Courts act, 1971.

[12] M. B. Sanghi, Advocate v. High Court of Punjab and Haryana, AIR 1991 SC 1834.


Picture Credit: Live Law





Bhaskar Kumar is student of B.A. LL.B. (Hons.)(2nd Year) at National Law School of India University, Bangalore. 





Snehil Kunwar Singh is student of B.A. LL.B.(Hons.)(2nd Year) at National Law School of India University, Bangalore. 


The Authors regularly write on legal issues on a number of media platforms and blogs including The Quint, Deccan Herald etc.

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