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The Delhi High Court Thursday held that the lower courts have no power to prosecute a person for contempt of court.

Setting aside a lower court order, Justice S.N. Dhingra ruled that only higher courts can take cognisance of contempt committed by a person against lower judiciary.

The court’s direction came on a case where an additional chief metropolitan magistrate (ACMM) had issued notices to two officials of Delhi Police after holding that their conduct lowered the reputation of the lower court.

‘A perusal of provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act would show that a court subordinate to high court has no powers to initiate proceedings under the Contempt of Courts Act. Under the act, the high court alone can take cognizance of an alleged contempt having been committed in respect of subordinate courts,’ the court said,

It held that the magistrate ‘grossly exceeded’ his powers in issuing show cause notice as to why proceedings for contempt of court be not initiated against the two police officers.

‘A subordinate court is supposed to send a reference of the matter to the high court. A subordinate court cannot itself assume jurisdiction under the Contempt of Courts Act and issue show cause notice as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated,’ the court said.


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