Ordinance No. I of 2004



To regulate the exercise of the powers of courts to punish for contempt of court

WHEREAS clause (3) of Article 204 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan provides that the exercise of the power conferred on courts to punish for contempt may be regulated by law;

AND WHEREAS the National Assembly is not in session and the President is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary to take immediate action;

NOW, THEREFORE, in exercise of the power conferred by clause (1) of Article 89 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the President is pleased to make and promulgate the following Ordinance:­

1. Short title, extent and commencement.- (1) This Ordinance may be called the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2004.

(2) It extends to the whole of Pakistan.

(3) It shall come in force at once and shall be deemed to have taken effect from the 15th day of April, 2004.

2. Definitions.- In this Ordinance, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context,­

(a) “Civil contempt” means the wilful flouting or disregard of­

(i)  An order, whether interim or final, a judgement or decree of a court;

(ii) A writ or order issued by a court in the exercise of its constitutional jurisdiction;

(iii) An undertaking is given to, and recorded by, a court;

(iv) The process of a court;

(b) “Criminal contempt” means the doing of any act with intent to, or having the effect of, obstructing the administration of justice;

(c) “Judicial contempt” means the scandalization of a  court and includes personalized criticism of a judge while holding office;

(d) “Notice” means a notice other than a show clause notice issued by a court;

(e) “Pending proceedings” means proceedings which have been instituted in a court of law until finally decided after exhausting all appeals, revisions or reviews provided by law or until the period of limitation therefore has expired:

Provided that the pendency of an execution application shall not detract from the finality of the proceedings;

(f) “Personalized criticism” means a criticism of a judge or a judgement in which improper motives are imputed; and

(g) “Superior court” means the Supreme Court or a High Court.


1              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 wilful 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 or prejudice 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”. The contempt is of three type, namely, the “civil contempt”, “criminal contempt” and “judicial contempt”.

2              Jurisdiction.-(1) Every superior court shall have the power to punish a contempt committed in relation to it.


�            (2) Subject to sub-section (3), every High Court shall have the power to punish a contempt committed in relation to any court subordinate to it.

�            (3) No High Court shall proceed in cases in which an alleged contempt is punishable by a subordinate court under the Pakistan Penal Code (Act No.XLV of 1860).


5. Punishment.-(1) Subject to sub-section (2), any person who commits contempt of court shall be punished with imprisonment which may extent 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 any accused person genuinely believes that he has not committed contempt and enters a defence shall not detract from the bona fides of any apology.

�            (3) In the case of a contempt having been committed, or alleged to have been committed, by a company, the responsibility therefore 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 judgement, 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).


6. Criminal contempt when committed.-(1) A criminal contempt shall be deemed to have been committed if a person­

�            (a)      attempts to influence a witness, or proposed witness, either by intimidation or improper inducement, not to give evidence, or not to tell the truth in any legal proceedings;

�            (b)      offers an improper inducement or attempts to intimidate a judge, in order to secure a favourable verdict in any legal proceedings; and

�            (c)      commits any other act with intent to divert the course of justice.


(2) Nothing contained in sub-section (1) shall prejudice any other criminal proceedings which may be initiated against any such person as is mentioned therein.

7. Cognisance of criminal contempt.-In the case of a criminal contempt a superior court may take action;

�            (i)       suo moto; or

�            (ii)      on the initiative of any person connected with the proceedings in which the alleged contempt has been committed; or


(iii)     on the application of the law officer of a Provincial or the Federal Government.

8. Fair reporting.-(1) Subject to sub-section (2), the publication of a substantially accurate account of what has transpired in a court, or of legal proceedings, shall not constitute contempt of court.

(2) The court may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, in the interest of justice, prohibit the publication of information pertaining to legal proceedings.

9. Personalized criticism.-(1) Subject to the provisions of this Ordinance, personalized criticism of a specific judge, or judges, may constitute judicial contempt save and except true averment if made in good faith and in temperate language in a complaint made,­

�            (a)      to the administrative superior of a judge of a subordinate court;

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