This section provides for certain kinds or contempts which can be tried summarily by the Court in order to preserve its honour and dignity. The section is applicable to five kinds of contempt’s:—
(1) Intentional omission to produce a document by a person legally bound to produce it (Section 175, IPC);
(2) Refusal to take oath when duly required to take one (Section 178, IPC);
(3) Refusal to answer questions by one who is legally bound to state the truth (Section 179, IPC);
(4) Refusal to sign a statement made to a public servant when legally required to do so (Section 180, IPC); and
(5) Intentional insult or interruption to a public servant sitting in any stage of judicial proceedings (Section 228, IPC).
When any such offence is committed in the presence of the Court, the Court may instantly detain the offender in custody and may take cognizance of the offence on the same day before rising of the Court. The Court shall give reasonable opportunity to the offender to show cause as to why he should not be punished for contempt under this section.
It is not necessary for the Court to take any evidence as the offence is committed in the very presence of the Court, and also the Court is not required to hear any evidence. The Court may sentence the offender to fine not exceeding two hundred rupees, and in default of payment of fine, to simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month.
The section is applicable in case of contempt of a Court may it be civil, revenue or criminal, while discharging judicial function. If the public servant is not such a Court, he can proceed only according to the normal procedure for trial in respect of any such offence as Section 345 will not apply in such a case.
It must, however, be stated that the provisions of this section and summary disposal of contempt committed in the presence of the Court, apply only to the five contempts specified in the section and any other contempt shall be dealt with under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952. Prior to the enactment of this Act the power to punish for contempt (other than the five contempts specified in Section 345, Cr.P.C.) was vested in the High Court.
Since order of the Court made under Section 345 is appealable under Section 351 of the Code, it is necessary for the punishing Court to maintain the record of proceeding under this section as required by sub-sections (2) and (3).
Where the Court is of the opinion that the offence of the any above five kinds should not be tried summarily as the offender deserves a heavier punishment, the Court may follow the procedure laid down in Section 346 of the Code.
The provisions of this section being mandatory must be strictly followed as noncompliance of any of them may be fatal to the proceedings.
In every case in which a Court takes cognizance of an offence under this section, it must make a record to (1) the facts constituting the offence, (2) the statement, if any, made by the offender, and (3) the finding and the sentence.
But where the offence is under Section 228 of IPC. the Court must also state the nature and stage of the judicial proceeding; and the nature of the interruption or insult.