What is the time limit to file the contempt petition in CAT?


The Section 20 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 provides limitation for actions for contempt No Court shall initiate any proceedings for contempt, either on its own motion or otherwise, after the expiry of a period of one year from the date on which the contempt is alleged to have been committed. The period of limitation is applicable both in civil as well as criminal contempt.

Contempt proceedings can be initiated either by filing an application or by the court itself suo moto. In both the cases, contempt proceedings must be initiated within one year from the date on which contempt is alleged to have been committed. In criminal contempt, contempt is alleged to have been committed the moment scandalization of court or interference with the administration of justice takes place.

Consequently, the period of limitation immediately starts running. But, in case of civil contempt the period of limitation does not start from the date of the order. It starts running after expiry of period mentioned in the order after service of certified copy of the order upon the other side. If no time limit is mentioned in the order, the order should be complied within a reasonable period. The term reasonable period has been interpreted to be a period of three months from the date of service of certified copy.

Reference: The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, Section 20



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