oppn parties Refusing to Answer Questions is Not Contempt of Court

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  • Amit Shah says the government will identify and deport illegal immigrants from all parts of the country
  • Reports from Pakistan confirm that Hafiz Saeed has been arrested and sent to jail
  • After the SC order, Karnataka Speaker says he will go by the Constitution in deciding on the resignations of the 16 MLAs
  • Rebel MLAs say they will not attend the trust vote on Thursday
  • Supreme Court rules that rebel MLAs cannot be forced to attend the assembly and vote in the floor test
  • Both the Centre and the Assam government have sought re-verification of up to 20% of draft NRC data
  • Pakistan opens its airspace for Indian planes
  • Dilapidated building collapses in Mumbai, killing more than 10 people while many were still trapped
  • Kulbhushan Jadhav case verdict to be delivered today by the ICJ
  • A Vistara flight landed in Lucknow with just 5 to 10 minutes of fuel left in the tank
  • Supreme Court to decide on Karnataka MLAs plea today
  • Karnataka alliance to face floor test on Thursday
  • China says that the next Dalai Lama will be appointed by it
  • Pakistan assures India that no anti-India activity would be allowed in the Kartarpur corridor
  • Pakistan to allow visa-free access to 5000 pilgrims every day to undertake pilgrimage using the Kartarpur corridor
ISRO calls-off Chandrayaan-2 mission launch at last moment due to technical snags. revised date will be announced later
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.”