1. Both these matters can be disposed of by one judgment as they arise out of the same subject-matter. By Criminal Application No. 339 of 1932 the Government Pleader has moved this Court that opponents 1 to 3, viz., S. K. Irani, an advocate practicing in this Court, K. A. Master and Miss Master, have committed contempt of Court and action be taken against them under the Contempt of Courts Act and they be punished. Criminal Application No. 339 of 1962 has been made on the basis of a report made by BRI A. G. Kotwal, Second Additional Authority under the Payment of Wages Act, Greater Bombay.
2. The facts in brief are : K. A. Master, opponent 2 to Criminal Application No. 339 of 1962 had filed an application (Application No. 4492 of 1959) against Jeena & Co. before the Payment of Wages Authority claiming certain amount as wages. This application was placed for disposal before Sri A. G. Kotwal, Second Additional Authority under the Payment of Wages Act, Bombay. It appears that the application was filed beyond the period of limitation. On 24 March 1961, Sri Kotwal after hearing the parties condoned the delay in filing the said application. In due course a stage was reached for recording evidence, and 17 August 1961, was the date fixed for recording evidence. On that day some evidence was recorded and it appears that Sri D. N. Salway, witness for Master, was in the witness-box by the end of the day. On the next day, i.e., 18 August 1961, an application was made by Master for time to file an application for declaring Sri Salway as a hostile witness. The case was adjourned to 22 August 1961. On this day, Sri Kotwal also inquired from the parties about the possibility of an amicable settlement of the case, and both the parties expressed their willingness to settle the matter. There was certain talk about the terms of the compromise. There was a suggestion that the amount of wages to be paid by Jeena & Co. to Master should be left to Sri Kotwal. There was also a demand on behalf of Master that not only he should get his wages but he should be reinstated in service. But to this demand of Master for reinstatement in service, Jeena & Co. were not agreeable. On 22 August 1961, the parties informed Sri Kotwal that the talks for settlement had broken down on the question reinstatement. Irani, opponent 1 before us, who was appearing an counsel before the Payment of Wages Authority then asked for time to file an objection for declaring Sri Salway as a hostile witness. Master was directed to file his objection before 16 September 1961, and the other side was directed to file its reply before 13 November 1961, and the case was fixed for further bearing by mutual consent, on 27, 28 and 49 November and 1 December 1961. Master, however, did not file the application by the ordered date, but on the other hand, from time to time, asked for further time. On 4 November 1961, the advocate for the parties saw Sri Kotwal in his chamber, and Irani informed Sri Kotwal that Master was not insisting on the term of reinstatement and, therefore, the settlement was likely because the parties were determined to settle all the disputes. The case was, therefore, first fixed on 13 November and then adjourned to 27 November. We should have mentioned earlier that Jeena & Co. were represented by Gagrat & Co., solicitors, and two of their partners, Sri Rustom Gagrat and Sri Jehangir Gagrat, ware appearing from time to time for Jeena & Co. We should have also mentioned that Irani who was appearing as counsel for Master, is also his brother-in-law. Opponent 3, Miss Master is the sister of opponent 2, Master.
3. On 27 November 1961, the parties and their counsel appeared before Sri Kotwal. Miss Master also was present in Court. Sri Kotwal suggested to the parties to fix amicably the figure of compensation or wages payable to Master. There was discussion for some time between the parties, but no figure could be agreed to between them. Both the parties informed Sri Kotwal that he should now fix the figure and neither party should higgle-haggle about it. Sri Kotwal then asked the parties to address him on the question as to what amount should be paid to Master. The advocates for the parties accordingly addressed the Court. Sri Kotwal then dictated the draft consent terms, leaving the quantum of amount blank. The parties and their advocates read the draft consent terms and approved it. Thereafter a fair draft of those consent terms was prepared leaving the quantum of amount blank. The fair draft was again read by counsel for parties and their advocates. Sri Kotwal asked the advocates to sign the consent terms in the fair draft. In the blank left on the fair draft Sri Kotwal then wrote the figure of Rs. 4,173. The amount as fixed by Sri Kotwal and written down in the consent terms was made known to the counsel and the parties who were present. The consent terms were then again handed over to Sri Kotwal who endorsed them as accepted and signed. Thereafter Sri Kotwal proceeded to make the endorsement in the roznama of the case. At this stage Miss Master started shouting and tried to snatch the copy of the consent terms from the attorney of Jeena & Co. She did not, however, succeed in her attempt. She then approached Sri Kotwal and attempted to snatch the original consent terms from Sri Kotwal. She told Sri Kotwal in an angry tone, “this settlement is not acceptable to us.” Sri Kotwal told Irani, advocate for Master that Miss Master was not concerned in the matter and unless she behaved herself, police would be called in. Thereupon Master requested his sister to leave the Court and eventually Master took her out of the Court. On 28 November 1961, Master filed an application in person before Sri Kotwal stating therein that the consent terms were not binding on him and that his application under the Payment of Wages Act should on be proceeded with on merits. A notice of this application was directed to be issued to Jeena & Co. and the case was fixed for 7 December 1961.
4. On 30 November 1961, Irani addressed a letter to Gagrat & Co., and copies of that letter have been forwarded to the Chief Justice, High Court, Bombay, the President, Incorporated Law Society Bombay, the Chairman, Bar Council. Bombay, Sri Potdar, Payment of Wages Authority, Bombay, Jeena & Co., Bombay, Sri S. R. Vakil, solicitor, Mulla & Mulla, Bombay, and the Commissioner of Police, Bombay, for their information and record. A portion of this letter, according to the applicant in Criminal Application No. 339 of 1962, constitutes contempt and Irani is guilty thereof. The portion complained of is in the following terms :
“In your (solicitor’s) fraud and cheating my client says you were actively assisted and aided by the Authority, Sri Kotwal, in connivance and collusion of the crime. My client States that there was an apparent criminal conspiracy between you, Jehangir Rustom Gagrat, Rustom Gagrat, Adi Katgara, Nariman Katgara, partners of Jeena & Co., and the Authority, Sri Kotwal, to cheat and commit fraud on the applicant and the commit offence against the justice, equity and good conscience and against the whole system and the holy institution of the administration of justice and misusing of position, powers and authority. My client accuses you all of these charges and further states that the aforesaid fraud and criminal conspiracy resulted in the so-called consent terms which are in fact the mirror of a guilty mind and hands behind the crime and offence. MY client was successful to give you all a sufficiently long rope to hang yourself and you all did. My client to now taking steps to prosecute you all for your criminal and other liabilities before the proper forum.”
5. On the same day, i.e., on 30 November 1961, Master sent an application to Sri Potdar, the head of the administration, Payment of Wages Authority, Bombay, and the following portion in this letter according to the applicant, constitutes contempt of which Master is guilty :
“This is to request you to immediately take in your personal custody complete records together with all the exhibits and all the files of the aforesaid application; and particularly the original of consent terms, as I am contemplating criminal action against the Authority, Sri Kotwal, in view of his complicity in criminal conspiracy to cheat and defraud me in active connivance and collusion of Sri Jehangir Rustom Gagrat, Sri Rustom Gagrat, solicitors, Sri Adi Katgara and Sri Nariman Katgara, partners of Jeena & Co. I am making an application and approaching the proper authority for sanction for prosecution against Sri Kotwal. I am also filing a petition to the Chief Justice, High court, Bombay, the Chairman, the Bar Council, Bombay, and to the President, incorporated Law Society, Bombay, for their complicity in criminal conspiracy, gross professional misconduct and misusing of power position and authority, which will be proved cent per cent by documentary evidence.”
6. Copies of this application were forwarded to the Chief Justice, High Court, Bombay, the Registrar, Appellate Side, High Court, Bombay, the Chairman, Bar Council. Bombay, the President, Incorporated Law Society, Bombay, and the Commissioner of Police, Bombay, for their information and record. According to the applicant, the portion re-produced above is of such a nature as is bound to shake the faith of the public in the administration of justice. The words far exceed the limits of being either reasonable, bona fide or justifiable or true to facts and there is a deliberate and mala fide attack on the integrity of the Judge. The allegation are made against the authority in his judicial capacity and further are entirely baseless, false, deliberate and mala fide. The case against the three opponents before us, in short, is that the portions reproduced above from the two letters written respectively by Irani and Master constitute contempt and the act and conduct of Miss Master in trying to snatch the original consent terms from the hands of Sri Kotwal and the general disturbance created by her in Court on 27 November 1961, constitute contempt.
7. As already stated, the criminal application is made after a report had been received from Sri Kotwal by the Registrar some time in December 1961.
8. We have already stated that Master had filed an application on 28 November 1961, before Sri Kotwal that the consent terms were not binding on him and that the case should be proceeded with on merits. Notice of the application was issued against the other side and the hearing was fixed on 7 December 1961. It appears that on 7 December 1961, either Master nor Irani appeared before the Payment of Wages Authority. Jeena & Co. and their advocate appeared and tendered the amount of Rs. 4,173 in Court, but because Master had refused to accept that amount, it was directed to be deposited in Court. Sri Kotwal made the following order :
“Consent terms carried out. The Application No. 4492 of 1959 and the eight companion Application Nos. 2972, 4008, 4802 of 1960 and 147, 695, 1596, 2879, 4229 of 1961 stand disposed of. The application of 28 November 1961 also stands dismissed.”
9. Master thereafter filed a writ petition under Arts. 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India, wherein he prayed that a writ of certiorari or a writ in the nature of certiorari or any other appropriate writ, direction or order under Art. 226 of the Constitution of India be issued to quash and set aside the aforesaid order of 7 December 1961, made by Sri Kotwal. The aforesaid two letters of 30 November 1961, one written by Master and the other by Irani, were filed along with the writ petition as exhibits. A Division Bench of this Court heard the application and noticed the said two letters, and in the opinion of the Division Bench the portions which we have reproduced above amounted prima facie to gross contempt of court. After hearing Irani, advocate, on the merits of the application, he was asked whether he wished to withdraw the allegations made by him against Sri Kotwal, and Irani told the Division Bench that he had made those allegations with a full sense of responsibility and that he wished to establish them. Under the circumstances, the Division Bench directed that notice should be leaned to Master and Irani to show cause why action under the Contempt of Courts Act should not be taken against them for the remarks quoted above and this in Miscellaneous Civil Application No. 25 of 1962.
10. Before we proceed to deal with the contentions raised before us, it may be at the outset stated that Sri Rane, Assistant Government Pleader, stated that he does not want to press the application against opponent 3, namely, Miss Master, inasmuch as the contempt alleged to have been committed by her would be an offence punishable under S. 228 of the Indian Penal Code. It is, therefore, not necessary to consider the case against Miss Master.
11. Before we deal with the case on merits, it is necessary to deal with the two preliminary objections raised by Irani and Master. In the first instance, it is their contention that the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act is not a Court. In support of his contention Irani referred us to rule 2. cls. (c) and (d), of the Payment of Wages (Procedure) Rules, 1937, and forms A and D prescribed in the rules, and a decision of the Nagpur High Court in M. V. Rajwade v. Dr. S. M. Hasan [A.I.R. 1954 Nag. 1]. In short, the submission made is that the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act to not a Court, the rules themselves make a distinction between a Court and an authority, and refer to the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act as an authority and the appellate tribunal as a Court. Further, it is the contention of Irani that this position becomes clear when it is seen that no court-fee is payable on an application filed under the Payment of Wages Act and that it is not the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act that to empowered to execute its orders and all that it can do is to issue directions under the Act. On the other hand, it is the contention of Sri Rane that the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act is a Court because it gives an authoritative and binding decision after a Judicial hearing. In support of the contention Sri Rane places reliance on V. K. Satyawadi v. State of Punjab [1956 S.C.J. 138] and Brajnandan Sinha v. Jyoti Narain .
12. Now, the word “Court” has not been defined in the Contempt of Courts Act. It would, therefore, be useful, to refer to the definitions of “Court” mentioned elsewhere. Coke on Littleton and Stroud defined the “Court” an a place where justice is judicially administered. Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act defines “Court” an follows :
“‘Court’ includes all Judges and Magistrates, and all persons, except arbitrators, legally authorized to take evidence.”
13. Section 19 of the Indian Penal Code defines ‘Judge’ in the following terms :
“The word ‘Judge’ denotes not only every person who is officially designated as a Judge, but also every person who in empowered by law to give, in any legal proceeding, civil or criminal, a definitive judgment, or a judgment which, if not appealed against would be definitive, or a judgment which if confirmed by some other authority, would be definitive, or who is one of a body of persons, which body of persons is empowered by law to give such a judgment.”
14. The aforesaid definitions clearly bring out that for an authority to be a Court an essential condition is that it must have power to give a decision or a definitive judgment which has finality or authoritativeness, whether subject to appeal or not. This characteristic, however, to not by itself enough to constitute that authority a Court. The distinction between Courts and tribunals exercising quasi-judicial functions having trappings of a Court has been pointed out by Venkatarama Ayyar, J., in V. K. Satyawadi v. State of Punjab [1956 S.C.J. 138 at 141] (vide supra) as follows :
“There has been considerable discussion in the Courts in England and Australia as to what are the essential characteristics of a Court as distinguished from a tribunal exercising quasi-judicial functions … It in unnecessary to traverse the same ground once again. It may be stated broadly that what distinguishes a Court from a quasi-judicial tribunal is that it is charged with a duty to decide disputes in a judicial manner and declare the rights of parties in a definitive judgment. To decide in a Judicial manner involves that the parties are entitled as a matter of right to be heard in support of their claim and to adduce evidence in proof of it. And it also imports an obligation on the part of the authority to decide the matter on a consideration of the evidence adduced and in accordance with law. When a question therefore arises an to whether an authority created by an Act to a Court as distinguished from a quasi- judicial tribunal, what has to he decided to whether having regard to the provisions of the Act it possesses all the attributes of a Court.”
15. The question as to what is a judicial decision has been elaborately considered by their lordships of the Supreme Court in Brajnandan Sinha v. Jyoti Narain (vide supra). At p. 963 their lordships observed :
“A true Judicial decision presupposes an existing dispute between two or more parties, and then involves four requisites :
(1) the presentation (not necessarily orally) of their case by the parties to the dispute;
(2) if the dispute between them is a question of fact, the ascertainment of the fact by means of evidence adduced by the parties to the dispute and often with the assistance of argument by or on behalf of the parties on the evidence;
(3) if the dispute between them is a question of law, the submission of legal arguments by the parties; and
(4) a decision which disposes of the whole matter by a finding upon the facts in dispute and an application of the law of the land to the facts so found, including where required a ruling upon any disputed question of law.”
16. Bearing these tests in mind, the provisions of the Payment of Wages Act and the rules framed thereunder will have to be considered.
17. As the preamble shows, the Payment of Wages Act is enacted to regulate the payment of wages to certain classes of persons employed in industry. The Act extends to the whole of India, except Part B States. In the first instance, the Act was made applicable to payment of wages to persons employed in any factory and to persons employed (otherwise than in a factory) upon any railway by a Railway Administration or either directly or through a subcontractor by a person fulfilling a contract with a Railway Administration. The State Government was empowered, after following the procedure mentioned in Sub-section (5) of S. 1 of the Act, to extend the provisions of the Act or any of them to the payment of wages to any class of persons employed in any industrial establishment or in any class or group of industrial establishments. Section 2 defines “factory” and “industrial establishment.” Section 3 casts a responsibility on an employer and certain other persons mentioned in the section to make payments to persons employed by him or them of all wages required to be paid under the Act. Section 4 requires the employer to fix wage-periods. Section 5 prescribes the time of payment of wages. Section 7 enumerates deductions which the employer could make from the wages payable to its employees. Section 8 deals with the power of the employer to impose fine and the limits on his power in respect thereof. Section 9 deals with the deductions for absence from duty. Section 10 deals with deductions for damages or loss. Section 11 to 13 deal with deductions from wages which the employer can make on account of certain acts or defaults on the part of his employee. Section 14 deals with the appointment of inspectors. The material part of S. 15 is in the following terms :
“15. (1) The State Government may, by notification in the official gazette, appoint one or more persons to be authority or authorities to hear and decide for any specified area all claims arising out of deductions from the wages, or delay in payment of the wages of persons employed or paid in that area.
(1A) A person shall not be qualified for appointment as an authority under this Act unless, he is a Commissioner for Workmen’s Compensation or any other officer with experience as a Judge of a civil Court or as a stipendiary Judicial Magistrate or as a Judge of a labour court or as a judicial member of the industrial court constitution under the Bombay Industrial Relations Act, 1948, or as presiding officer of a tribunal constituted under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
(2) Where contrary to the provisions of this Act any deduction has been made from the wages of an employed person, or any Payment of wages has been delayed, such person himself or any legal practitioner or any official of a registered trade union authorized in writing to act on his behalf, or a representative union registered as such under the Bombay Industrial Relations Act, 1946, or any inspector under this Act, or any other person acting with the permission of the authority appointed under Sub- section (1), may apply to snort authority for a direction under Sub- section (3) and in case of death of the employed person, it shall be lawful for his legal representative to make an application for such direction :
Provided that every such application shall be presented within one year from the date on which the deduction from the wages was made or from the date on which the payment of the wages was due to be made, as the case may be :
Provided further that any application may be admitted after the said period of one year when the applicant satisfies the authority that he had sufficient cause for not making the application within such period.
(3) When any application under Sub-section (2) is entertained, the authority shall hear the applicant and the employer or other person responsible for the payment of wages under S. 3, or give them an opportunity of being heard, and, after such further inquiry (if any) as may be necessary, may, without prejudice to any other penalty to which such employer or other person is liable under this Act, direct the refund to the employed person or his legal representative as the case may be of the amount deducted or the payment of the delayed wages, together with the payment of such compensation as the authority may think fit, not exceeding ten times the amount deducted in the former case and not exceeding twenty-five rupees in the latter and the authority may direct the payment of such compensation in cases where the amount deducted or the delayed wages are paid by the employer to the employed person or his legal representative before the disposal of the applications :”
18. The proviso to Sub-section (3) of S. 15 deals with certain circumstances under which no direction for the payment of compensation should be made in the cases of delayed wages. Sub- section (3A) deals with the power of the authority to make conditional attachment of the property of the employer for the satisfaction of any direction that may be given. It provides that an attachment made under this sub-section shall have the same effect as if made by a competent civil Court. Clause (i) of Sub- section (4) of S. 15 empowers the authority to levy a penalty on employees who bring vexatious petitions, and Clause (ii) of Sub-section (4) empowers the authority to levy penalty on an employer who compelled the employee to file application under the Payment of Wages Act. Sub-section (5) of S. 15 provides :
“Any amount directed to be paid under this section may be recovered by the authority an an arrear of land revenue and the authority shall for that purpose be deemed to be a public officer within the meaning of S. 5 of the Revenue Recovery Act, 1890.”
19. Sub-section (6) of S. 15 empowers the authority to decide a question as to whether any person is or is not a legal representative of the deceased employed person. Section 15A (1) provides :
“15A. (1) In any proceedings under S. 15, the applicant shall not be liable to pay any court-fees (other than fees payable for service of process) in respect of such proceedings :
Provided that when the application is presented by an inspector he shall not be liable to pay the process fees also.”
20. Sub-section (2) of S. 15A provides :
“(2) Where the applicant succeeds in such proceedings the authority hearing the application shall calculate the amount of court-fees which would have been payable by the applicant but for Sub-section (1) and direct the employer or other person responsible for the payment of wages under S. 3 to pay such amount to the State Government. Such amount shall, without prejudice to any other mode of recovery be recovered as an arrear of land revenue.”
21. Section 16 deals with cases where a single application could be filed in respect of claims from unpaid group. Section 17, which deals with the right of appeal, provides :
“17. (1) An appeal against an order dismissing either wholly or in part an application under Sub-section (2) of S. 15, or against a direction made under Sub-secs. (3) or (4) of that section may be preferred within thirty days of the date on which the order or direction was made, in a Presidency-town before the Court of Small Causes and elsewhere before the District Court –
(a) by the employer or other person responsible for the payment of wages under S. 3, if the total sum directed to be paid by way of wages and compensation exceeds three hundred rupees, or
(b) by an employed person, or any legal practitioner or any official of a registered trade union authorized in writing to Act on his behalf, or a representative union registered as such under the Bombay Industrial Relations Act, 1946, or any inspector under the Act, or any other person authorized by an authority to make an application under Sub-section (2) of S. 15, and (in the case of the death of the employed person) by his legal representative, as the case may be, if the total amount of wages claimed to have been withheld from the employed person, or from the unpaid group to which the employed person belonged, exceeds fifty rupees, or
(c) by any person directed to pay a penalty under Sub-section (4) of S. 15 …
Provided further that, when the order or direction appealed against was made by any person who holds or has held office of or above the rank of a District Judge or a judicial member of the industrial court constituted under the Bombay Industrial Relations Act, 1946, or the presiding officer of a tribunal constituted under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, an appeal under this section shall lie to the High Court.
(2) Save as provided in Sub-section (1), any order dismissing either wholly or in part an application made under Sub-section (2) of S. 15, or a direction made under Sub-section (3) or Sub-section (4) of that section shall be final.
(3) The provisions of S. 5 of the Indian Limitation Act, 1908, shall be applicable to appeals under this section.”
22. Section 17(1) deals with power to attach property pending an appeal and Sub-section (2) of S. 17A provides that the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (V of 1908), relating to attachment before judgment under that Code shall, so far as may be, apply to any order for attachment under Sub-section (1). Section 17B deals with the court-fees payable by the appellant in an appeal under S. 17. Section 18 provides :
“Every authority appointed under Sub-section (1) of S. 15 shall have all the powers of a civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, for the purpose of taking evidence and of enforcing the attendance of witnesses and compelling the production of documents, and every such authority shall be deemed to be a civil Court for all the purposes of S. 195 and of Chap. XXXV of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898.”
23. Section 19 empowers the authority to recover the amount of wages from the employer in cases where the direction is given against persons other than the employer mentioned in S. 3 and it is found that no amount could be recovered from them. Sub-section (1) of S. 20 makes contravention of any of the provisions of Ss. 5 and 7 to 13 punishable with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, and Sub-section (2) makes contravention of the provisions of S. 4, 6 or 25 punishable with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees. Section 21 deals with the procedure in trial of offences mentioned in S. 20. Section 22 reads :
“22. No Court shall entertain any suit for the recovery of wages or of any deduction from wages in so far as the sum so claimed –
(a) forms the subject of an application under S. 15 which has been presented by the plaintiff and which is pending before the authority appointed under that section or of an appeal under S. 17; or
(b) has formed the subject of a direction under S. 15 in favour of the plaintiff; or
(c) has been adjudged, in any proceeding under S. 15, not to be owed to the plaintiff; or
(d) could have been recovered by an application under S. 15.”
24. Section 23 prohibits contracting out of the provisions of this Act. Section 24 provides that the powers by this Act conferred upon the State Government shall, in relation to railways, mines and oilfields, be powers of the Central Government. Section 25 requires the employer to display by notice certain abstracts of the Act. Section 26 deals with the rule-making power. Sub-section (1) of S. 26 provides that the State Government may make rules to regulate the procedure to be followed by the authorities and Courts referred to in S. 15 and 17. It may be mentioned that the words “State Government” in this sub-section were substituted for the words “Governor-General in Council” by the Government of India (Adaptation of Indian Laws) Order, 1937. In short, prior to the said order, the power to make rules vested in the Governor- General. The Governor-General had made rules which have continued in force with certain modifications made by the State Government from time to time. These rules are called the Payment of Wages (Procedure) Rules, 1937.
25. Rule 2 is the interpretation clause. Clause (c) provides that “the authority” means the authority appointed under Sub-section (1) of S. 15; and under Clause (d), “the Court” means the Court mentioned in Sub-section (1) of S. 17. Rule 3 provides that applications under Sub-section (2) of S. 15 by or on behalf of an employed person or group of employed persons shall to made in duplicate in forms A, B or C, as the case may be, one copy of which shall bear such court-fee as may be prescribed. Rule 4 deals with authorization given to persons who are authorized under S. 15 to act on behalf of an employed person. Rule 6 relates to the hours during which applications and documents could be presented to the authority and enjoins a duty on the authority to endorse on such documents the date of presentation or receipt, an the case may be. Rule 7 provides :
“7. (1) The authority may refuse to entertain an application presented under rule 6, if after giving the applicant an opportunity of being heard, the authority is satisfied for reasons to be recorded in writing that –
(a) the applicant is not entitled to present an application, or
(b) the application is barred by reason of the provisions in the provisos to Sub-section (2) of S. 15, or
(c) the applicant shows no sufficient cause for making a direction under S. 15.
(2) The authority may refuse to entertain an application which is insufficiently stamped or is otherwise incomplete and, if he so refuses, shall return it at once with an indication of the defects. If the application is presented again after the defects have been made good, the date of presentation shall be deemed to be the date of presentation for the purposes of the provisos to Sub-section (2) of S. 15.”
26. Rule 8 provides :
“(1) If the application is entertained, the authority shall call upon the employer by a notice in form E to appear before him on a specified date together with all relevant documents and witnesses, if any, and shall inform the applicant of the date so specified.
(2) If the employer or his representative fails to appear on the specified date the authority may proceed to hear and determine the application ex parte.
(3) If the applicant fails to appear on the specified date, the authority may dismiss the application :
Provided that an order passed under sub-rule (2) or (3) may be set aside and the application reheard on good cause being shown within one month of the date of the said order, notice being served on the opposite party of the date fixed for rehearing.”
27. Rule 9 deals with the record of proceedings and sub-rule (3) of that rule requires the authority to record the substance of the evidence in a case where an appeal lies and append it under his signature to the record of direction in form F. Rule 11 states :
“11. In exercising the powers of a civil Court conferred by S. 18 the authority shall be guided in respect of procedure by the relevant orders of Sch. I of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, with such alterations as the authority may find necessary, not affecting their substance, for adapting them to the matter before him, and save where they conflict with the express provisions of the Act or these rules.”
28. Rule 12 deals with the procedure in respect of appeals and rule 13 deals with the inspection of documents filed with the authority or the Court an the case may be.
29. Form A is the form in which an application is to be made. Form B is the form for making application on behalf of a group. Form C is the form of application by an inspector or person permitted by the authority or authorized to Act. Form D is the certificate of authorization given to a person or persons to act on behalf of an employee or employees. Form E is the notice for the disposal of application, and the form shows that a notice is issued to the employer to appear and answer the claim of the employee and further it informs him that the day fixed for his appearance is also the day fixed for the final disposal of the application and, therefore, the employer must produce on that day all the witnesses upon whose evidence and the documents upon which he intends to rely in support of his defence. It further informs him that on his failure to attend on the is specified day, the application wound be decided ex parte. Form F relates to the record of directions issued by the Payment of Wages Authority, and there is a note which says that in cases where an appeal lies a separate sheet giving the substance of the evidence recorded by him has to be attached to this form, in which the details regarding the case and particulars of the direction given are to be mentioned. Form G relates to notice to respondent of the day fixed for the hearing of the appeal under S. 17 of the Act.
30. The provisions of the Act, the rules and forms, to which we have just made reference, show that the Act has been enacted to regulate the payment of wages to persons employed in an industry or industrial establishment. It requires the employer to fix the wage-periods and also the time for payment of wages as provided in the Act. It imposes certain limitations on the power of the employer to make deductions from the wages or to levy fine. It confers a right on an employee to make an application to the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act in case payment of wages has been delayed to him or where deductions not authorized under the Act have been made from his wages. The power conferred on the authority to not arbitrary, but he is required to hear both the employer and the employee and, after making inquiry as may be necessary, to decide in accordance with the provisions of the Act. The procedure which is prescribed by the rules shows that a notice of the application made by an employee has to be given to the employer requiring him to appear before the authority on a date fixed by the authority, to submit to the authority whatever the employer has to say in answer to the application, to produce documents as well as witnesses on which or on whom he places reliance in support of his case. The Act confers a right on the parties to examine witnesses, if they so desire, and it enjoins a duty on the authority to examine those witnesses produced by the parties. If the parties desire the aid of the authority to secure attendance of the witnesses or for the purpose of production of documents, S. 18 of the Act confers a right on the parties in that respect, and enjoins a duty on the authority to aid the parties in that respect. The powers of the authority in this respect have been made by S. 18 of the Act co-extensive with the powers of the civil Court. The authority, after hearing both the parties and hearing the evidence tendered by them, is required to give its decision and that decision is made binding on the parties, subject to the result of the appeal in case where an appeal is provided for. Further, S. 22 of the Act constitutes Authority under the Payment of Wages Act as an exclusive forum where disputes relating to wages could be agitated, and to that extent the powers of the civil Court have been taken away. It cannot be disputed that every State has a duty to decide disputes between an employer and an employee, when an employee complains that he has not been paid wages which are due to him in accordance with law. That judicial power of the State has now been, to the extent stated in the Act, vested in the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act. We have already shown that in exercise of that power the provisions of the Act as well an the rules require the authority to act in a judicial manner. These being the provisions of the Act and the rules which we have examined above, in our opinion, the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act possesses all the attributes of a Court, and the decision given by the authority satisfies the test of a true judicial decision laid down by their lordships of the Supreme Court in V. K. Satyawadi v. State of Punjab [1956 S.C.J. 138] (vide supra) and Brajnandan Sinha v. Jyoti Narain (vide supra) which we have reproduced above. In our judgment, therefore, an Authority constituted under the Payment of Wages Act is a Court within the meaning of the Contempt of Courts Act.
31. It is true that at the time of filing an application an employee is not required to pay court-fees as a plaintiff in a civil suit would be required to pay. It is also true that the directions issued by the Payment of Wages Authority are not executed by the authority himself, but the amount ordered by the Authority to be paid is recovered as arrears of land revenue. It is also true that the Authority constituted under the Payment of Wages Act is termed as an authority and not as a Court. But these factors are not decisive to hold that the decision given by the authority is not a judicial decision or that the authority is not a Court. The decision in M. V. Rajwade v. Dr. S. M. Hasan [A.I.R. 1954 Nag. 1] (vide supra) on which reliance is placed by Irani, is, in our opinion, of little assistance to him. The question that arose for consideration there was whether a commission under S. 4 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, was a Court or not within the meaning of the Contempt of Courts Act, and it was held that it was not a Court. The reason given therefor was that the least characteristic that is required of a Court is the capacity to deliver a “definitive judgment” and that test was not fulfilled in the case of a Commission appointed under the Commission of Inquiry Act, the report made by the commission not being a definitive judgment and not binding on the parties. We have already shown that the decision given by the Authority appointed under the Payment of Wages Act is a definitive judgment.
32. The next contention raised by Irani is that even assuming that the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act is a Court, it is not a Court subordinate to this Court, and therefore, this Court cannot take cognizance of contempt of the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act. Now, the expression “Court subordinate to the High Court” has been considered by a Division Bench of this Court in Lakhama Pesha v. Venkatarao . The question that arose for consideration there was whether cognizance could be taken by the High Court of a contempt committed of the Chief Judge of the Small Causes Court as a persona designata under the City of Bombay Municipal Act, 1888, and this Court held that it is open to the High Court to take cognizance of it and take action against the person who committed that contempt as if the contempt had been committed of the High Court itself. On p. 827 of the report the learned Chief Justice, who delivered the judgment, observed :
“Now, the subordination contemplated by S. 3 is a Judicial subordination and there can be no doubt that the Chief Judge, although he is a persona designata, is a tribunal which would fall within the purview and ambit of Art. 227. Therefore, the High Court can exercise judicial supervision against the Chief Judge and can judicially interfere with his decisions in proper cases. The distinction has been drawn in various authorities between a Court and a tribunal, but these decisions have approached the question from the point of view of whether the particular authority to a Court subordinate to the High Court and in considering that what has been emphasized is the judicial subordination of the authority. If, therefore, the Chief judge constitutes a tribunal which is judicially subordinate to the High Court, there is no reason or principle on which any distinction can be drawn between a civil Court which is subordinate to the High Court and a tribunal which is subordinate to the High Court under Art. 227 of the Constitution. It in unnecessary, in our opinion, to restrict the meaning of the expression “Court subordinate to the High Court” used in S. 3. All that that section requires is that there must be an authority exercising judicial powers and further that that authority must be judicially subordinate to the High Court. Both the conditions are certified in the case of the Chief Judge of the Small Causes Court. He to undoubtedly an authority exercising judicial functions and he is also, as already pointed out, judicially subordinate to the High Court. Therefore, if a contempt is committed of the Chief Judge as a persona designata under the Municipal Act, it to open to the High Court to take cognizance of it and to take action against the person who committed that contempt as if the contempt had been committed of the High Court itself.”
33. We are bound by this decision of a Division Bench of this Court. We have already held that the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act is an authority exercising judicial powers. There in no dispute that this Court has jurisdiction and power to correct the decision given by the authority by judicially supervising it in exercise of its powers under Art. 227 of the Constitution. In fact. Master had filed an application under Art. 227 of the condition against the decision of the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act to get quashed the order made by the authority. Following the above decision we hold that the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act is a Court subordinate to this Court within the meaning of S. 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act. A similar view also is taken by a majority of Judges of the Allahabad High Court deciding Ram Saran v. Raj Bahadur where it has been held that Nyaya Panchayats established under the Uttar Pradesh Panchayat Raj Act, 1947, are Courts, and that they are Courts subordinate to the High Court within the meaning of S. 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952.
34. The next question that arises for consideration is whether opponents 1 and 2 or either of them have committed contempt of the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act by writing the two letters mentioned above, which have been circulated amongst certain persons. We have already reproduced the relevant portions of the two letters above. We will first deal with the letter written by Irani on 30 November 1961. In this letter Irani has alleged criminal conspiracy between Sri Jehangir Rustom Gagrat, Sri Rustom Gagrat, Sri Adi Katgara, Sri Nariman Katgara, partners of Jeena & Co., and the Authority, Sri Kotwal, to cheat and commit fraud on Master and thus committing offence against justice, equity and good conscience and against the whole system and the holy institution of the administration of justice and misusing of position, power and authority. The authority is accused of these charges. The letter further goes on to say that the consent terms were brought by practicing fraud and criminal conspiracy alleged in the letter. Now Sri Jehangir Rustom Gagrat and Sri Rustom Gagrat are partners of a solicitor’s firm, Gagrat & Co., appearing for Jeena & Co., against whom Master lodged a claim under the Payment of Wages Act. We have already stated that Master on the one hand and Jeena & Co. on the other had agreed to settle the matter amicably and they left the determination of the amount of compensation to be paid to Master to the authority, and the authority had, after hearing both the sides, decided the figure at Rs. 4,173. The fraud and criminal conspiracy alleged in the letter, portion of which has been reproduced above, relates to the determination of this figure. In other words, the authority has been accused of dishonest behaviour in the discharge of its judicial function. There cannot be any doubt that the portion of the letter complained against constitutes contempt, which is known as contempt by scandalizing the Court. It is indeed true that the letter mentions that it is written under instruction of Irani’s client, Master, suggesting that whatever has been stated is at the instance of Master. But then a counsel appearing for a client has a responsibility in cases where his client wants him to allege fraud and dishonesty on the part of the Court in the discharge of its judicial functions, and has to exercise due care in such matters and cannot escape the responsibility simply by saying that what has been done was under instructions from his client. Here there is further evidence that the letter does not appear to be merely under instructions from his client for the purpose of the case. We have already shown that the letter has been circulated to various persons including the Chief Justice, High Court, the Chairman, Bar Council, the President, Incorporated Law Society, the Commissioner of Police, etc. Obviously the object appears to be to undermine the confidence in the authority of Sri Kotwal amongst the members of the bar and amongst the solicitors. The letter is circulated to undermine the confidence of persons moving in the legal world in Sri Kotwal. Further, when we asked Master to argue as regards the contents of his letter, Master stated before us that it was written as advised by Irani. May be perhaps Master now wants to shift the responsibility to the shoulders of Irani. May be, having regard to the relationship between the two, what Master says is true. However, as it appears from the order made by a Division Bench of this Court in Special Civil Application No. 412 of 1962 (for admission), the Division Bench had asked Irani, after hearing him on the merits of the application, whether he wishes to withdraw the allegations made against the Payment of Wages Authority, and he told the Division Bench that he had made those allegations with a full sense of responsibility and that he wished to establish them. It does, therefore, appear that the allegations made in this letter were not merely under to instructions from the client.
35. Turning to the letter written by Master, dated 30 November 1961, it is also of a similar nature. It alleges complicity in a criminal conspiracy on the part of Sri Kotwal in collusion with Sri Jehangir Rustom Gagrat, Sri Rustom Gagrat, Sri Adi Katgara and Sri Nariman Katgara, partners of Jeena & Co., and the object of the criminal conspiracy was to cheat and defraud Master. The letter is addressed to Sri Potdar, the head of the administration, Payment of Wages Authority, requesting him, for the reasons mentioned above, to immediately take in his personal custody complete records together with all the exhibits and all the files of the application. Copies of this letter also have been forwarded to various authorities mentioned above. This letter alleges dishonesty on the part of Sri Kotwal in discharge of his judicial functions, and it has been circulated amongst the various authorities obviously with a view that the judicial world should lose confidence in the integrity of Sri Kotwal in discharging his judicial functions. In respect of this letter also Master stated before us that he had written it at the instructions of Irani. Irani, however, has not accepted the position. We have already stated that possibly Master now wants to shift the blame on Sri Irani. It is also possible that having regard to the relationship, the letter has been written at the instance of Irani. However, it is not possible to say clearly in respect of this letter that it was written at the direction of Irani. Master cannot escape responsibility for writing this letter merely by saying that he had written it at the instructions of Irani. The contents of this letter constitute contempt by scandalizing the Court. In Brahma Prakash Sharma v. State of Uttar Pradesh [1953 S.C.R. 1169 at 1176-1177] their lordships observed :
“There are indeed innumerable ways by which attempts can be made to hinder or obstruct the due administration of justice in Courts. One type of such interference is found in cases where there is an act or publication which ‘amounts to scandalizing the Court itself’ – an expression which is familiar to English lawyers since the days of Lord Hardwick. The scandalizing might manifest itself in various ways but, in substance, it is an attack on individual Judges or the Court as a whole with or without reference to particular cases, casting unwarranted and defamatory aspersions upon the character or ability of the Judges. Such conduct is punished as contempt for this reason that it tends to create distrust in the popular mind and impair the confidence of the people in the Courts which are of prime importance to the litigants in the protection of their rights and liberties.”
36. We have discussed above that the contempt committed by Irani and Master falls within the principle laid down by their lordships, which we have reproduced above.
37. Irani in the course of his arguments made a request to us that we should give him an opportunity to cross-examine Sri Kotwal, Sri Jehangir Gagrat, Sri Rustom Gagrat, Sri Adi Katgara, Sri Nariman Katgara, the judicial clerk of Sri Kotwal, Sri Thakkar, clerk of Gagrat & Co., and Sri Mehta, the authority who first dealt with the case, so as to enable him to show that whatever has been stated either by him or Master in the letters is true. A plea of justification itself aggravates contempt, as held by a Full Bench of the Lahore High Court in In re K. L. Gouba [A.I.R. 1942 Lah. 105 (F.B.)]. The Supreme Court has observed in Brahma Prakash v. State of Uttar Pradesh [1953 S.C.R. 1169 at 1182] :
“…. It may be that pleas of justification or privilege are not strictly speaking available to the defendant in contempt proceedings.”
38. In order to ascertain whether there was any real grievance and whether it was really necessary to examine these witnesses, we asked both Irani as well as Master to state facts on affidavit so as to enable us to see whether there was any necessity of giving an opportunity of cross-examining these witnesses. At the request of Master and Irani, we adjourned the case on 27 November 1962. However, no affidavits have been filed either by Master or Irani when the case was taken up again on 4 December 1962. On that day Irani raised a contention that the Government Pleader who has filed the application in the Court for taking action against the opponents had not filed an affidavit in support of the facts stated in the petition. The contention, in our opinion, in the circumstances of the case, is without any merit. That application is founded on a report made by the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act to the Registrar of the High Court on 27 December 1961. Now, where an application to take action under Contempt of Courts Act is made on a report made by the authority concerned, it to not essential that it should be supported by an affidavit. After arguing the case for some time, Irani further requested that we should again adjourn the case to enable Irani to file an affidavit. We did not grant him any further adjournment, having regard to his conduct in this Court. This case has come up for hearing before the Court a number of times and had been adjourned from time to time at the request of Irani to enable him to do one thing or the other. But even after taking adjournments from the Court, Irani has not done the things for which he had taken adjournment. It appears that when the case came up for hearing on 16 October 1962, before another Bench it was adjourned to enable Irani and Master to engage a counsel to conduct the case on their behalf. Adjournment was granted, but counsel was not engaged. When the case came up before us on 5 November 1962, it was argued for some time and then Irani requested for an adjournment to enable him to look up the case-law on the subject, and the case was adjourned to 22 November 1962. On that day the case was argued for nearly 3 to 4 hours and then it was adjourned to 27 November, to enable Irani to engage a counsel. On 27 November, counsel was not engaged. He again argued the case himself for a considerably long time and then took time to file an affidavit. No affidavit has been filed. In these circumstances, we did not accede to the request of Irani that further time should be granted to him to enable him to file an affidavit. The application of the Government Pleader that action be taken against opponents 1 and 2 had been served on both of them a long- time back. Irani is an advocate and knows the normal procedure of the Court, and if he was really desirous of filing an affidavit he could easily have done so at a much earlier stage.
39. In the result, we hold that both Irani an well as Master have committed contempt of the Authority under the Payment of Wages Act, namely, Sri A. G. Kotwal, and have committed contempt of that authority which is a Court, under the Contempt of Court Act. We punish Irani by imposing on him a fine of Rs. 500 and we punish Master by imposing on him a fine of Rs. 200. Irani and Master shall pay the costs of this application.
40. Irani and Master pray that they may be granted one month’s time to pay the fine. We grant them fifteen days’ time to pay the fine.