oppn parties Refusing to Answer Questions is Not Contempt of Court

News Snippets

  • Imran Khan raises nuclear war bogey again, says if Pakistan loses a conventional war, it might fight till the end with its nuclear arsenal
  • Searching for Rajeev Kumar, ex-CP, Kolkata Police, the CBI approaches state DGP to know about his whereabouts
  • Ferry overturns in the river Godavari in Andhra. 46 feared dead
  • Supreme Court to hear pleas on Jammu & Kashmir today
  • Ghulam Nabi Azad moves Supreme Court for ordering the government to allow him to visit his family in J&K
  • GST Council meeting to focus on leakages and evasions, expected to tighten processes, especially regarding input tax credit
  • Finance minister, citing figures for July 2019, says that industrial production and fixed investment is showing signs of revival
  • Amit Shah's comment on Hindi as the unifying language draws the ire of MK Stalin and Siddaramaiah. Stalin says the country is India not Hindia
  • On Hindi Diwas today, Amit Shah says use of mother language must be increased but Hindi should be adopted as the common language of the country
  • Pakistan raises white flag on LoC to claim bodies of dead soldiers
  • India beat Bangladesh by 5 runs to lift the U-19 Asia Cup
  • A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court will examine the amendments to the SC/ST act made after an apex court order that 'diluted' the provisions and which were reinstatd by the amendment
  • Delhi government decides to re-implement the odd-even system of traffic management from November 4 to 15
  • UP to discontinue law that allows the state government to pay the income tax dues of ministers
  • Anand Sharma of the Congress to replace P Chidambaram on the parliamentary committee on home affairs
Sunni Wakf Board and Nirvani Akhara write to the Supreme Court for a negotiated settlement to the Ayodhya dispute
oppn parties
Refusing to Answer Questions is Not Contempt of Court

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Sub-section 3 of Article 20 provides that “no person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.” It is a well established principle of law that no one can be forced answer questions in court that can be used later to incriminate him in another case. Ignoring this, the Delhi High Court had pulled up an accused for not answering question posed by it and initiated contempt of court proceedings against him.. In the case Kuldeep Kapoor vs Sushanta Sengupta, the accused Kuldeep Kapoor had allegedly submitted forged documents and false affidavits in court. Those affidavits provided false addresses. When the court asked him about the discrepancy, the accused remained quiet and refused to answer the question.

Taking this as an affront to the court that lowered its dignity and impeded justice, the court ordered contempt proceedings. But if the accused refused to answer the questions, he was protected by sub-section 3 of Article 20 of the constitution. Having allegedly submitted fabricated documents in court, if he had answered the question about the address, whether in the affirmative or not, he could have been pulled up under section 191 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). So the accused was just refusing to be a witness against himself and hence, no contempt proceedings could be initiated only for that reason.

The Supreme Court was clear about this and hence dismissed the case in Kuldeep Kapoor and ors. vs Court on its own Motion in a very short order. While stating that the accused did not behave in a manner that could be construed as contemptuous, it also stated that proper notice was also not served on them under section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. While the apex court did not refer to the right under Article 20, it is implicit in the manner in which the court chose to set aside the contempt order. The court said “we feel that the entire exercise done under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 was not proper and therefore we set aside the impugned order imposing punishment upon the appellants.”