Explaining the verdict: Legal references in the court order

Published: April 27, 2012

A person accused of having committed contempt of court may, at any stage, submit an apology and the court.

Article 63 (1) (g) of Constitution:

Disqualifications for membership of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)

1. A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), if—

g) he is propagating any opinion, or acting in any manner, prejudicial to the Ideology of Pakistan, or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or morality, or the maintenance of public order, or the integrity or independence of the judiciary of Pakistan, or which defames or brings into ridicule the judiciary or the Armed Forces of Pakistan;

Article 204 (2) of Constitution:

A Court shall have power to punish any person who—

a) abuses, interferes with or obstructs the process of the Court in any way or disobeys any order of the Court;

b) scandalises the Court or otherwise does anything which tends to bring the Court or a Judge of the Court into hatred, ridicule or contempt;

c) does anything which tends to prejudice the determination of a matter pending before the Court; or

d) does any other thing which, by law, constitutes contempt of the Court.

Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance (2003):

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 scandalise 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 types, namely: the “civil contempt”, “criminal contempt” and “judicial contempt.”

Punishment under Article (5) of Contempt of Court Ordinance (2003):

(1) Subject to sub-section (92) 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 Rs100,000, 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 the bona fides of an apology.

(3) In 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 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).

Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Benbane Head
    Apr 27, 2012 - 7:22PM

    The Contempt of Court Ordinance (2003) was passed by Musharraf (in his capacity as the President) in early December 2003. This Ordinance repealed the Contempt of Court Act,1976 (LXIV of 1976). This was later (late December 2003) ratified into law by the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. All these amendments were then repealed by the 18th Amendment to the Constitution in April 2010. This essentially means that the Contempt of Court Act,1976 (LXIV of 1976) was restored automatically. Some would argue that there was no automatic restoration, but I would disagree unless new evidence comes to light. This then results in the PM being convicted by a law (2003 Ordinance) which does not exist. Sadly, it means that the PM can challenge this by saying that the charges against him were flawed. If this position is taken, the rule against double jeopardy will prevent the courts to bring further charges against him….

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  • May 4, 2012 - 1:39AM

    @Benbane Head:
    Read Article 270AA http://www.pakistani.org/pakistan/constitution/part12.ch7.html
    which expressly saves the 2003 ordinance (promulgated in June or July)

    PB

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  • Benbane Head
    May 11, 2012 - 8:29PM

    @PappuBarista: The devil lies in the detail!

    Article 207AA saves ordinances promulgated up to 31st October 2003:

    “Except as provided in clause (1) and subject to the provisions of the Constitution (Eighteenth Amendment) Act, 2010, all laws including President’s Orders, Acts, Ordinances, Chief Executive Orders, regulations, enactments, notifications, rules, orders or bye-laws made between the twelfth day of October, one thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine and the thirty-first day of October, two thousand and three (both days inclusive) and still in force shall, continue to be in force until altered, repealed or amended by the competent authority.
    Explanation:- For the purposes of clause (2) and clause (6), “competent authority” means,-
    (a) in respect of Presidents’ Orders, Ordinances, Chief Executive’s Orders and all other laws, the appropriate Legislature; and
    (b) in respect of notifications, rules, orders and bye-laws, the authority in which the power to make, alter or amend the same vests under the law.”

    The Contempt of Court Ordinance (2003) was signed by Gen. Musharraf on the 31st December 2003!

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  • May 12, 2012 - 2:40PM

    @Benbane Head:
    Exactly the devil is in the detail, and you need to pay more attention. It was published in the gazette on 15th December 2003 but it was law since 11 July 2003 when it was actually issued by Gen Mush. Also refer to PLD 2007 SC 688 and do your homework better next time.

    PB

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  • Benbane Head
    May 17, 2012 - 9:13PM

    @PappuBarista:

    I am not really an expert on Pak’s laws and would rather agree with someone who had the knowledge,i.e. you – but isn’t PLD 2007 SC 688 the one which is still subject of an appeal? Not casting any doubt’s on your knowledge, but it is my humble opinion, that this is not really new evidence to convince me otherwise.

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