R.K. Garg, Advocate vs State Of Himachal Pradesh on 22 April, 1981

Supreme Court of India
R.K. Garg, Advocate vs State Of Himachal Pradesh on 22 April, 1981
Equivalent citations: 1981 SCALE (1)767
Author: Y Chandrachud
Bench: Chandrachud, Y.V. ((Cj)
           PETITIONER:
R.K. GARG, ADVOCATE

	Vs.

RESPONDENT:
STATE OF HIMACHAL PRADESH

DATE OF JUDGMENT22/04/1981

BENCH:
CHANDRACHUD, Y.V. ((CJ)
BENCH:
CHANDRACHUD, Y.V. ((CJ)
SEN, A.P. (J)

CITATION:
 1981 SCALE  (1)767


ACT:
     Contempt of  Courts Act  1971, Ss.2, 15 and 19-Advocate
appearing in case-Throwing shoe at presiding Judge-Guilty of
contempt of Court-Punished with imprisonment and fine.
     Legal  Profession-Professional   ethics  and   cultured
conduct-Results of violation of.



HEADNOTE:
     The appellant  a practising  Advocate appeared  for the
petitioner in  a petition  under the Rent Act. When the case
was called  out for  hearing, the  Judge  noticed  that	 the
petitioner had	not paid  the process  fee, as	a result  of
which the summons could not be issued to the respondent. The
Judge, proceeded to dismiss the petition under Order IX Rule
2 of  the  Civil  Procedure  Code.  Taking  umbrage  at	 the
dismissal of  the petition  the appellant hurled his shoe at
the Judge which hit him on the shoulder. The Judge intending
to proceed  under Section  228 of  the Penal  Code issued  a
warrant of  arrest  against  the  appellant.  The  appellant
evaded the  warrant  and  successfully	managed	 to  prevent
proceedings being taken by the Judge for the contempt of his
Court. The  Judge thereupon  made a  reference to  the	High
Court under  Section 15(2)  of the  Contempt of	 Courts Act,
1971.
     Before the	 High Court  the appellant  did not  dispute
that he hurled a shoe at the Judge. He explained his conduct
by saying  that	 he  acted  under  an  irresistible  impulse
generated by the provocative language used by the Judge. The
High Court  being satisfied, that the appellant was making a
false allegation  that the  Judge had  used abusive language
against him  and that  he had given an untrue version of the
very genesis  of the  incident, held the appellant guilty of
contempt of  Court and	sentenced him to simple imprisonment
for six months and a fine of Rs. 200/-.
     In the  appeal to	this Court  it was  pleaded that the
appellant evidently  lost his  balance and  whether  or	 not
there was  any justification  for it,  he  acted  under	 the
impulse of  grave passion for which he had been sufficiently
punished by  the publicity  which the  incident had received
and the	 notoriety which  he had  invited for himself and as
the appellant  was genuinely  repentant for  his conduct  he
should be enlarged on a mere admonition.
     Allowing the appeal in part,
^
     HELD: 1.  (i) The	sentence of  simple imprisonment for
six months  is reduced to a period of one month and the fine
for Rs. 200/- is enhanced to Rs. 1000/-.
537
The fine  if recovered	shall be  paid over to the Legal Aid
Society functioning in the State. [540 G]
     (ii) The appellant is guilty of conduct which is highly
unbecoming of a practising lawyer. He hurled his shoe at the
Judge in  order	 to  overawe  him  and	to  bully  him	into
accepting  his	submission  that  the  case  should  not  be
dismissed under Order IX Rule 2 C.P.C. The appellant did his
best or worst to see that the petition was not dismissed for
non-payment of	process fee  and finding  that the Judge was
not willing  to accept his argument, he took out his shoe in
show of his physical prowess. [540 C]
     (iii) The	appellant's behaviour  is condemned.  It  is
most reprehensible  remembering that, as a practising lawyer
he is an officer of the Court. [540 D]
     (iv) A  long sentence of imprisonment is not imposed on
the appellant since he has tendered an unconditional apology
to this	 Court and  to the  trial Judge.  The  appellant  is
deeply regretful  and genuinely	 contrite. He  has  suffered
enough in  mind and  reputation and  no greater	 purpose  is
going to  be served  by subjecting  him	 to  a	long  bodily
suffering. [540 E, F]
     2. (i)  The argument  of the appellant's counsel in the
High Court  that: "better part of discretion is to ignore it
instead	 of  fanning  it.  It  is  a  tussle  between  legal
profession and judiciary", is as much to be regretted as the
conduct of the appellant before the trial Judge. [541A-B]
     (ii) The  Bar and the Bench are an integral part of the
mechanism  which   administers	justice	 to  the  people.  A
discourteous Judge  is like  an ill-tuned  instrument in the
setting of a Court room. But Members of the Bar will do well
to remember  that flagrant violations of professional ethics
and cultured  conduct  will  only  result  in  the  ultimate
destruction of	a system  without  which  no  democracy	 can
survive. [541 E, F]



JUDGMENT:

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Contempt Appeal No. 19
of 1981.

From the judgment and order dated the 17th November,
1980 of the Himachal Pradesh High Court at Simla in Contempt
Petition (Crl.) No. 7 of 1980.

V. M. Tarkunde, S. S. Ray, K.K.Venugopal, Dr. L. M.
Singhvi, Kapil Sibbal, C. M. Nayar and L. K. Pandey for the
Appellant.

L. N. Sinha, Attorney General for the Respondent
(Registrar, High Court)
K. Parasaran, Soli. General and Miss A. Subhashini for
the Respondent (State of H. P.)
538
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
CHANDRACHUD,C. J. This is an appeal under sec. 19(1)b
of the Contempt of Courts Act 1971, (“the Act”,) against the
judgment of the High Court of Himachal Pradesh dated
November 17, 1980 in Contempt Case (Criminal) No. 7 of 1980,
whereby the appellant was sentenced to simple imprisonment
for six months and a fine of Rs. 200.

The appellant practises as an Advocate at Solan which
is a district place in the State of Himachal Pradesh. It
appears that only one court generally sits at Solan which is
that of the Senior Sub-Judge-cum-Chief Judicial Magistrate.
The learned Judge, who presides over that Court, also
exercises the powers of a Rent Controller and of the Court
of Small Causes. On June 18, 1980, Shri Kuldip Chand Sud,
who was the Presiding Officer of the Court, was hearing a
petition under the Rent Act in which the petitioner was
represented by the appellant. When the case was called out
for hearing, the learned Judge noticed that the petitioner
had not paid the process fee, as a result of which the
summons could not be issued to the respondent. The Judge
therefore proceeded to dismiss the petition under Order 9,
Rule 2 of the Civil Procedure Code. Taking umbrage at the
dismissal of the petition, the appellant hurled his shoe at
the Judge which hit him on the shoulder. The Judge asked his
Orderly to take the appellant in custody but the appellant
slipped away. The Judge evidently wanted to proceed under
section 228 of the Penal Code for which purpose he issued a
warrant of arrest against the appellant. The appellant
successfully evaded the warrant and managed to prevent
proceedings being taken by the Judge for the contempt of his
court. The Judge then made a reference to the High Court of
Himachal Pradesh under section 15(2) of the Act. The High
Court issued notice to the appellant enclosing therewith a
copy of the reference made by the Judge.

The appellant did not dispute in the High Court that he
hurled a shoe at the Judge. He explained his conduct by
saying that he acted under an irresistible impulse generated
by the provocative language used by the Judge. The
appellant’s version is like this:

On the previous date of hearing, the Judge had
directed the appellant to pay fresh process fee and to
supply the address of the respondent to the Rent Act
petition. The appellant informed the Judge that he was
unable to comply
539
with that order since the respondent had been admitted
to a hospital and had since left the hospital. The
house in which the respondent lived was locked. The
Judge then declared that he proposed to take action
under Order 9 Rule 2 of the Civil Procedure Code. The
appellant asked the Judge to record his statement as to
why he was unable to pay the process fee and supply the
address of the respondent. Instead of recording the
appellant’s statement, the Judge remarked: “You rascal,
I will set you right”. The appellant protested at the
abusive language used by the Judge, but the Judge
retorted: “I repeat what I said”. The appellant
thereafter lost control over himself and under the
“extreme heat of moment and passion, his hand fell on
his shoe” which he threw towards the dais. Many persons
were present in the court who witnessed the incident.
After hurling the shoe at the dais, the appellant took
off his coat and tie and told the court: “An
unfortunate incident has happened. Do you want to take
any action against me ? I surrender”. Upon this the
Judge remarked: “You scoundrel get out of my court”.
The appellant thereafter left the court room.

The High Court had called for the comments of the Judge on
the version of the appellant, from which it was satisfied
that the appellant was making a false allegation that the
Judge had used abusive language against him. The High Court
also held that the appellant had given an untrue version of
the very genesis of the incident since the Judge had not
given any direction for furnishing the complete address of
the respondent before him.

Many technical contentions were raised in the High
Court, one of them being that section 10 of the Act was a
bar to the High Court taking cognizance of the matter. It is
unnecessary to go into that question or into various other
matters raised in the High Court on behalf of the appellant
since, Shri V. M. Tarkunde and Shri S. S. Ray who appear on
behalf of the appellant, stated before us that the appellant
did not desire to take a contentious attitude. It was stated
on behalf of the appellant that he was prepared to tender an
unconditional written apology to this Court and to produce
evidence before us of his having tendered a similar apology
to the trial court. Such apologies have been duly tendered.

Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant
appealed to us in all their persuation that in view of the
fact that the appellant
540
was genuinely repentant for his conduct, he should be
enlarged on a mere admonition. Counsel plead that the
appellant evidently lost his balance and whether or not
there was any justification for it, he acted under the
impulse of grave passion for which he has been sufficiently
punished by the publicity which the incident has received
and the notoriety which he has invited for himself.

We had made it clear to the learned counsel at the very
time when they conveyed to us the willingness of the
appellant to apologise that we offer no promise or
inducement that if the appellant apologises we will take a
lenient view of the matter. In our opinion the appellant is
guilty of conduct which is highly unbecoming of a practising
lawyer. He hurled his shoe at the Judge in order evidently
to overawe him and to bully him into accepting his
submission that the case should not be dismissed under Order
9 Rule 2, C.P.C. The appellant did his best or worst to see
that the petition was not dismissed for non-payment of
process fee and finding that the Judge was not willing to
accept his argument, he took out his shoe in show of his
physical prowess. We cannot adequately condemn the
appellant’s behaviour which strikes us as most
reprehensible, remembering that, as a practising lawyer, he
is an officer of the court. Such incidents can easily
multiply considering the devaluation of respect for all
authority, whether in law, education or politics.

We do not, however, propose to impose a long sentence
of imprisonment on the appellant, since he has tendered an
unconditional apology to this Court and to learned trial
Judge. The appellant was present in our Court at the time
when his appeal was argued and though, on such occasions,
histrionics cannot entirely be ruled out, we did form an
impression, backed by our small little experience of life
and its affairs, that the appellant is deeply regretful and
genuinely contrite. He has suffered enough in mind and
reputation and no greater purpose is going to be served by
subjecting him to a long bodily suffering. Accordingly, we
reduce the sentence of six months to a period of one month,
enhance the fine from Rs. 200 to Rs. 1000 and direct that
the fine, if recovered, shall be paid over to a Legal Aid
Society, if any, functioning in the State of Himachal
Pradesh. The High Court will decide which society should get
the money, if there is more than one such society, of which
there is precious little likelihood. Order accordingly.

We will be failing in our duty if before parting with
the case we did not draw attention to what the appellant’s
counsel Shri
541
Bhagirath Das said in the High Court during the course of
his arguments. Shri Bhagirath Das told the learned Judges of
the High Court:

“Better part of discretion is to ignore it instead
of fanning it. It is a tussle between legal profession
and judiciary”. (emphasis supplied since it must have
been placed).

This part of the argument of the appellant’s counsel in the
High Court is as much to be regretted as the conduct of the
appellant before the learned trial Judge. Discretion is
undoubtedly the better part of valour but we did not know,
until we read the argument advanced by the appellant’s
counsel in the High Court, that the better part of
discretion is to ignore that a practising advocate had
hurled a shoe at a Judge. We are also unable to understand
how the High Court was “fanning” the incident by taking
cognizance of it, which it was its clear duty to do. It
makes sorry reading that “a tussle between legal profession
and judiciary” should find its culmination in a member of
that noble profession throwing a shoe at a Judge.

Those who are informed of the question and think deeply
upon it entertain no doubt that the Bar and the Bench are an
integral part of the same mechanism which administers
justice to the people. Many members of the Bench are drawn
from the Bar and their past association is a source of
inspiration and pride to them. It ought to be a matter of
equal pride to the Bar. It is unquestionably true that
courtesy breeds courtesy and just as charity has to begin at
home, courtesy must begin with the Judge. A discourteous
Judge is like an ill-tuned instrument in the setting of a
courtroom. But members of the Bar will do well to remember
that such flagrant violations of professional ethics and
cultured conduct will only result in the ultimate
destruction of a system without which no democracy can
survive.

All this, of course, is said without meaning any
disrespect to Shri Bhagirath Das. Not he, but what he said,
is the cause of this comment.

N.V.K.				      Appeal partly allowed.
542



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