Section 228 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Explained!

The section requires that if it is a case of insulting a public servant then the prosecution must prove that it has been done intentionally. However, if it is merely causing interruption to any public servant, the same need not be intentional. In either case the public servant must be sitting in any judicial proceeding and not in any other proceeding. A proceeding is judicial if it relates to the administration of justice. Panchayati Adalat sits in judicial proceeding.

A certificate officer exercising his powers and discharging his functions under the Orissa Public Demands Recovery Act is a court sitting in judicial proceeding.

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Coming drunk in the court and talking irrelevantly may not be an offence under this section if the accused has not become drunk deliberately because of the absence of intentional insult or causing of interruption. But hurling of the abusive word ‘dalal’, which means a pimp, against an adversary in full hearing of the court has been held to be intentionally insulting the Court and hence punishable under this section. Dragging two accused persons, whose transfer applications were being considered by the court, away from inside the courtroom is a clear interruption of the court work and as such punishable under this section.

The accused, having been warned by the court that if he did not leave immediately contempt proceedings could be started against him, continued to stay in the courtroom is guilty under section 228 of the Code. Exchange of abusive words between the court sub-inspector and a counsel within the hearing of a court may not amount to an offence under this section if there is no intentional insult or causing of interruption to the court.

The Madhya Pradesh High Court has held that when several accused persons are facing trial and found guilty of various offences under the Code, and on hearing the judgment one of them addressed the court uttering filthy abuses making contemptuous statement, it amounts to insult of the court and the court has jurisdiction to sentence the accused under section 228 of the Code.

Usha Pandey v. ACJM II, Basti and others, was a case of intentional insult or interruption to a public servant sitting in judicial proceedings. Derogatory remarks against a Magistrate were made by a lady litigant when she had appeared before the Magistrate in a case under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 against her husband. Prolonged litigation between her and her husband had mentally upset her. The Allahabad

High Court held that under the circumstances the Magistrate could have ignored the remarks and kept cool, and that under the facts and circumstances proceedings under section 228, Indian Penal Code were liable to be quashed.

Summary procedure

A summary procedure for trying certain kinds of contempt has been provided by the law. Section 345 (1), of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 states that when any such offence as is described in any of the sections 175, 178, 179, 180 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code is committed in the view or presence of any civil, criminal or revenue court, the court may cause the offender to be detained in custody and may, at any time before the rising of the court on the same, day take cognizance of the offence and, after giving the offender a reasonable opportunity of showing cause why he should not be punished under this section, sentence the offender to fine not exceeding two hundred rupees and, in default of payment of fine, to simple imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month, unless such fine is paid sooner. Section 345 (3), of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 says that if the offence is under section 228 of the Indian Penal Code, the record shall show the nature and stage of the judicial proceeding in which the court interrupted or insulted was sitting, and the nature of the interruption or insult.

Specific law on contempt of court

Besides the provisions in the Indian Penal Code relating to contempt there exists a specific Act, the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, dealing with all aspects of the contempt law including the defence of apology.

The offence under section 228 of the Code is non-cogrrizable, bailable and non- compoundable, and is triable by the court in which the offence is committed subject to sections 340 to 352 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.