An Act to enact a law relating to contempt of Court

[Gazette of Pakistan, Extraordinary, Part-I, 12th July 2012].

No. F. 9(8)/2012-Legis.—The following Act of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) received the assent of the President on 11th July, 2012, is hereby published for general information:-

WHEREAS it is expedient to repeal and re-enact the law of contempt in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (3) of Article 204 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan;

It is hereby enacted as follows:-

1. Short title, extent and commencement.—(1) This Act may be called the Contempt of Court Act, 2012.

(2) It extends to the whole of Pakistan.

(3) It shall come into force at once.

2.       Interpretation.—In this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context,—

(a)     "judge" includes all officers acting in a judicial capacity in the administration of justice; and

(b)     judicial proceedings in relation to any matter shall be deemed to be pending from the time when a Court has come to be seized of the matter in a judicial capacity, till such time as the appellate, revisional or review proceedings in respect of the matter have come to an end or the period of limitation for filing such proceedings has expired without any such proceedings having been initiated.

3.       Contempt of Court.—Whoever disobeys or disregards any order, direction or process of a Court, which he is legally bound to obey or commits a willful breach of a valid undertaking given to a Court or does anything which is intended to or tends to bring the authority of a Court or the administration of law into disrespect or disrepute, or to interfere with or obstruct or interrupt the process of law or the due course of any judicial proceedings, or to lower the authority of a Court or scandalize a judge in relation to his office, or to disturb the order or decorum of a Court, is said to commit "contempt of Court":

Provided that the following shall not amount to commission of contempt of Court, namely:-

(i)      exercise of powers and performance of functions by a public office holder of his respective office under clause (1) of Article 248 of the Constitution for any act done or purported to be done in exercise of those powers and performance of those functions;

(ii)     fair comments about the general working of Courts made in good faith in the public interest and in temperate language;

(iii)    fair comments on the merits of a decision of a Court made, after the pendency of the proceeding in a case, in good faith and in temperate language;

(iv)    subject to a prohibition of publication under Section 9 or under any other law for the time being in force, the publication of a fair and substantially accurate report of any judicial proceedings;

(v)     the publication of any matter, amounting to a contempt of Court by reason of its being published during the pendency of some judicial proceedings, by a person who had no reasonable ground for believing that such judicial proceedings were pending at the time of the publication of the matter;

(vi)    the distribution of a publication, containing matter amounting to contempt of Court, by a person who had no reasonable ground for believing that the publication contained, or was likely to contain, any such matter;

(vii)   a true averment made in good faith and in temperate language for initiation of action or in the course of disciplinary proceedings against a judge, before the Chief Justice of a High Court, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, the Supreme judicial Council, the Federal Government or a Provincial Government;

(viii)  a plea of truth taken up as a defence in terms of clause (vi) in proceedings for contempt of Court arising from an earlier averment unless it is false;

(ix)    relevant observations made in judicial capacity, such as, those by a higher Court on an appeal or revision or application for transfer of a case, or by a Court in judicial proceedings against a judge;

(x)     remarks made in an administrative capacity by any authority in the course of official business, including those in connection with a disciplinary inquiry or in an inspection note or a character roll or confidential report; and

(xi)    a true statement made in good faith respecting the conduct of a judge in a matter not connected with the performance of his judicial functions.

4. Punishment.—(1) Subject to sub-section (2), any person who commits contempt of Court shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to six months simple imprisonment, or with fine which may extend to one hundred thousand rupees, or with both.

(2)     A person accused of having committed contempt of Court may, at any stage, submit an apology and the Court, if satisfied that it is bona fide, may discharge him or remit his sentence.

Explanation.—The fact that an accused person genuinely believes that he has not committed contempt and enters a defence shall not detract from thebona fides of an apology.

(3)     In the case of a contempt having been committed, or alleged to have been committed, by a company, the responsibility shall extend to the persons in the company, directly or indirectly, responsible for the same, who shall also be liable to be punished accordingly.

(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in any judgment, no Court shall have the power to pass any order of punishment for or in relation to any act of contempt, save and except in accordance with sub-section (1).

5.       Jurisdiction.—(1) A High Court or the Supreme Court, on its own information or on information laid before it by any person, may take cognizance of an alleged commission of contempt of the Court.

(2)     The Supreme Court shall have the power to take cognizance of any contempt of itself or of any judge of the Supreme Court alleged to have been committed anywhere and a High Court shall have the power to take cognizance of any contempt of itself or of any judge thereof or of any other High Court or of any judge thereof alleged to have been committed within the territorial limits of its jurisdiction.

(3)     A High Court shall exercise the same jurisdiction in respect of contempts of Courts sub-ordinate to it or to any other High Court as it exercises in respect of contempts of itself.

(4)     Nothing contained herein shall affect the power of any Court to punish any offence of contempt under the Pakistan Penal Code.

6.       Bars to taking cognizance.—(1) No High Court shall take cognizance under this Act of a contempt alleged to have been committed in respect of a Court sub-ordinate to it where the said contempt is an offence punishable under the Pakistan Penal Code.

(2)     No Court shall take cognizance, as of a contempt of Court, of any averment made before the Supreme Judicial Council in respect of which the Supreme Judicial Council has given a finding that the averment fulfilled the requirements of clause (vi) of the proviso to Section 3.

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