Judgement of the day: Supreme Court Bar Association v. Union of India (AIR 1998 SC 1895)


In this case the Supreme Court found Vinay Chandra Mishra, an Advocate, guilty of committing criminal contempt of Court for having interfered with and obstructing the course of justice by trying to threaten, overawe and overbear the court by using insulting, disrespectful and threatening language. The Supreme Court invoked its power under article 129 read with article 142 of the Constitution and awarded the contemner a simple sentence of imprisonment for a period of six weeks together with suspension from practising as an advocate for a period of three years.

Aggrieved by this direction of suspension the Supreme Court Bar Association, through its Honorary Secretary, has filed a writ petition under article 32 of the Constitution of India.


It was concluded that this court cannot in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 142 read with Article 129 of the Constitution, punish a contemner for committing contempt of court and also impose a punishment of suspending his licence to practice, where the contemner happens to be an Advocate. Such a punishment cannot even be imposed by taking recourse to the appellate powers under Section 38 of the Act while dealing with a case of contempt of court (and not an appeal relating to professional misconduct as such). To that extent, the law laid down in Vinay Chandra Mishra case, was overruled.

It’s the power of the Bar Council of the State or Bar Council of India to punish that Advocate who is found guilty of contempt of court and of professional misconduct by either debarring him from practice or suspending his licence, as may be warranted, in the facts and circumstances of each case.

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