SJB MP Ranawaka presents private members bill on Contempt of Court

Patali Champika Ranawaka

SJB MP Patali Champika Ranawaka last week presented a private members bill to Parliament aimed at codifying a contempt of court law for the country.

The Contempt of Court Bill seeks to define and limit the powers of certain courts in punishing contempt of courts and to regulate their procedure in dealing with contempt cases.

The Bill defines “contempt of court” as civil contempt or criminal contempt with “civil contempt” meaning wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court.

“Criminal contempt” has been defined as publication (whether by words, spoken or written or by signs or by visible representations, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which scandalises or tends to scandalise or lowers or tends to lower the authority of any court; prejudices or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or interferes or tends to interfere with or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.

The Bill details what should and should not be construed as “contempt of court” and sets prison terms of six months simple imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 10,000 in cases where persons are found guilty of an offence under the act with provision to tender an apology when faced with such a charge.

(Source: Daily FT)