'Legislative enactment can't remove power of contempt'

Power of contempt can’t be taken away by a legislative enactment: SC

There is no restriction as far as Article 129 (for contempt) is concerned, Supreme Court said

Supreme Court of India. Credit: Reuters Photo

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that it has been vested with the power to punish for contempt under the Constitution and this jurisdiction cannot be taken away even by a legislative enactment.

A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M M Sundresh held Rajiv Dahiya, the chairperson of an NGO, 'Suraz India Trust' guilty of contempt for not depositing Rs 25 lakh for "scandalising and browbeating" the apex court.

Rejecting his apology as "charade" to get out of consequences, the court said Dahiya has been "throwing mud" at all, including the court, administrative staff and the state government. 

Dealing with its power, the top court said the founding fathers felt that the powers under clause (2) of Article 142 (for doing complete justice) of the Constitution could be subject to any law made by Parliament. However, there is no such restriction as far as Article 129 (for contempt) is concerned, it pointed out.

"The power to punish for contempt is a constitutional power vested in this court which cannot be abridged or taken away even by legislative enactment," it said.

The court issued notice to Dahiya and directed him to be present on October 7, for hearing him on the point of sentence.

"The contemnor has apparently made a profession of filing public interest petitions of subjects of which he may not know much and then seeking to scandalise the court to grant him relief failing which he will continue to scandalise the court," the bench said.

Dahiya claimed inability to pay the cost imposed due to lack of resources. He had also submitted before the bench that he would approach the President of India with a mercy plea.

The court had in its 2017 judgement imposed Rs 25 lakh cost on him for filing 64 PILs over the years.

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