Feb 27, 2022

Advocates boycotting the court – Wrong at so many levels?

After Karnataka bar associations asked their members to stop doing court work, the Karnataka High Court has ordered them to give an undertaking saying that they will follow the law, which holds that it is illegal for advocates to boycott the court. The Court said that till then, it will not drop its contempt proceedings against the associations.


Do advocates have a professional duty to respect the court?

Yes. An advocate must maintain certain standards of professional conduct and etiquette in courts, and show respect towards the court. If they do not do so, the concerned Bar Council can initiate misconduct proceedings against them. 


What is contempt of court?

Contempt of court simply means disrespecting the court in any way. In India, the court can punish anyone if they disrespect the court or show contempt towards courts or their directions.


What are the types of contempt of court?

There are two types of contempt of court: Civil contempt and Criminal contempt.


Civil contempt:


If someone deliberately disobeys any judgment, direction, order, or other process of the court, then they are disrespecting the court and this is civil contempt. Also, if someone purposely violates an undertaking (breaks an agreement or a promise) that they have given to the court, it is civil contempt of court.


Criminal contempt:


Criminal contempt of court happens when a person disrespects the court by publishing anything, attempting to or doing something that: 

  • Scandalizes or lowers the authority of any court 
  • Influences or interferes with any judicial proceeding (like a legal case being heard by the court) 
  • Obstructs the judicial process in any other way


What is not considered as contempt of court?

People can publish fair and accurate reports of court proceedings related to any pending legal case, unless this has been prohibited by the court. Publishing a fair analysis of any final judgement given by the court after deciding a case is also permitted.


What is the punishment for contempt of court? 

If someone disrespects the court through civil or criminal contempt of court, the punishment is jail time for up to six months and/or a fine up to Rupees two thousand. The punishment may be cancelled if the person apologises to the court and the court is satisfied with the apology.

To know more about contempt of court, read our explainer