State vs Rajeshwari Prasad on 4 March, 1966

Allahabad High Court
State vs Rajeshwari Prasad on 4 March, 1966
Equivalent citations: 1966 CriLJ 1361
Author: J Takru
Bench: J Takru


J.N. Takru, J.

1. On the 11th June 1965, Sri S.N. Sharma, the then Judicial Officer (City) Kanpur, made a report to the Registrar of this Court, through the proper channel, that the three Annexures marked A, B and C sent along with that report be brought to the notice of this Court, and that suitable action might be taken against Rajeshwar Prasad Saxena, the opposite party under Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Act, In this report Sri S.N. Sharma stated that the matters contained in the enclosed Annexures appeared in “Kali Raten”-a Hindi Weekly-dated the 8th May 1965, and as they attributed improper motive to the Presiding Officer of the Court, and were calculated to scandalize the Court and to lower its prestige and dignity, and to bring the administration of justice into disrepute, the opposite party, who was responsible for their publication, be punished for committing contempt of Court. The passage to which objection was taken read thus:

On the 12th of August, due to special efforts of Sri Daya Shankar Mehrotra, who besides being an official receiver has attained a high status on account of his unparalleled resources, Sri S.N. Sharma issued bailable and non-bailable warrants against Sri Fazal-ul-Haq and his brother without any legal basis.

It has been learnt that on the next day some Magistrate complained to the Collector that a Magistrate of another circle could not have the power to grant bail to a person of his circle. Accordingly he cancelled the bail, which had been granted, on that very day. Just think is it the shriek of law or persistent inimical spirit. Even then if persons determined to pull out the tongue of speakers and to handcuff the writers continue to get back of his Shastri Government, the democratic set up of this country shall dwindle.

There are instances to show that on account of personal grudge the cousin of Mr. Fazal-ul-Haq, who is said to be a resident of Tilaknagar, was got arrested by a Magistrate of Kanpur City on such serious charges, as would make the hearts of the readers cry out when they come to hear their details. In this case the most interesting fact is that in order to bring Sri Fazal-ul-Haq in the clutches of law, a woman of loose character was made the target and such a false case was got instituted by the said Magistrate, on the knowledge of which even the walls of the Court echo with the cry of ‘shame, shame’. It has been learnt that the said lady moved an application in the Court of the District and Sessions Judge for withdrawing the case, in which serious charges were brought against Sri S.N. Sharma on behalf of Sri Fazal-ul-Haq. Its confidential enquiry is necessary.

2. On this report notice was issued to the opposite party by Gyanendra Kumar, J., and in response to it he has appeared in person, and filed a counter-affidavit accepting responsibility for the publication of the impugned passages, but denying that they constituted contempt of Court on the grounds(l) that the matters contained therein were correct, (2) that they were published in the exercise of his right of fair criticism and in the public good with a view to obtaining redress thereof.

3. On behalf of Sri Rajeshwar Prasad Saxena a preliminary objection was taken to the maintainability of the present proceedings. According to Sri Saxena as the impugned remarks were not made in, or in connection with any pending case, no contempt of Court can be held to have been committed by him. This, objection has however only to be stated to be rejected for the purpose of contempt proceedings is to safeguard the dignity of the Court and the administration of justice, for which it is not necessary that some case should be pending. Hence if the impugned passages are of the kind mentioned in the report, then they can form the basis of contempt proceedings, even if they were not made, in or in connection with any case.

4. I shall now proceed to deal with the case on merits. Now a bare reading of the passages marked Annexure ‘A’ shows that it accuses Sri S.N. Sharma for having issued bailable and non-bailable warrants against Sri Fazul-ul-Haq and his brother “without any legal basis” and on account of “the special efforts” and “unparalleled resources” of Sri Daya Shankar Mehrotra, Official Receiver. Thus in the aforesaid passage there is a clear assertion that Sri SN. Sharma, the Judicial Officer was actuated by oblique and improper motive in issuing bailable and non-bailable warrants against Sri Fazul-ul-Haq and his brother.

5. I shall skip over the passage marked annexure ‘B’ as that in my opinion is at the best a borders line case between fair criticism of the legality of the action of Sri S.N. Sharma in getting the bad order cancelled and the attributing of improper motive to him for obtaining the said cancellation. As contempt proceedings are quasi criminal proceedings the benefit of this uncertainty must be given to the opposite party.

6. In the passage marked ‘C’ the ‘personal grudge’ of the Magistrate i.e. Sri S.N. Sharma is said to be responsible for the arrest of the cousin of Sri Fazul-ul-Haq on serious charge and for the filing of a false charge against ‘a woman of loose character.’ Thus there can be-no doubt that in this passage also personal and oblique motive is ascribed to Sri S.N. Sharma in the discharge of his judicial functions.

7. The law on this branch of contempt of Court is to be found in two decisions of the-Supreme Court. The first of them is Ashwani Kumar Ghose v. Arabinda Bose and the other is State of Madhya Pradesh v Revashankar . In the former case the Supreme Court, held that,

Where a newspaper article while criticising a Supreme Court decision not merely preached the Courts of law the sermon of divine detachment from extraneous considerations such as politics and policies but also proceeded to attribute improper motive to the Judges, it was held that the article not only transgressed the limits of fair and bona fide criticism but had a clear tendency to affect the dignity and prestige of the Court and therefore amounted lo gross contempt of Court.

If an impression is created in the minds of the public that the Judges in the Highest Court in the land act on extraneous considerations in deciding cases, the confidence of the whole community in the administration of justice is bound to be undermined and no greater mischief than that can possibly be imagined,

while in the latter it held that:

There are innumerable ways by which Attempts could be made to hinder or obstruct the due administration of justice in Courts and one type of such interference is found in cases Where there is an act which amounts to “scandalising the Court itself”; this scandalising; 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, causing unwarranted and defamatory aspersions upon the character and ability of the Judges. Such conduct is punished as contempt for the 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.

8. Thus a criticism which attributes ‘improper motives’ to a Judge in the conduct of his judicial work not only transgresses the limits of fair and bona fide criticism but has a clear tendency to affect the dignity and prestige of the Court and consequently amounts to gross contempt of Court. This is precisely what, the opposite party has done by publishing the passages marked Annexure ‘A’ and ‘C’.

9. Sri Rajeshwar Prasad Saxena then contended; (1) that as Sri S.N. Sharma was actuated by pique and resentment and not by any concern for the administration of justice, in making his report since, he (Sri Saxena) had written several articles against him, and (2) that as the matters contained in the impugned passages were correct and he (Sri Saxena) wrote them for the good of the public and with a view, to obtaining their redress he could not be held guilty of contempt. All these considerations are, however, foreign to the decision of the present question as pleas of justification or privilege are not strictly speaking available to the contemner, except perhaps as matters tending to aggravate or mitigate the offence of contempt. This contention therefore has no force and is rejected.

10. Finally Sri Rajeshwar Prasad Saxena contended that it was not right to read the impugned passage torn from their context, and that, if the article containing them was read as a whole they would not bear the interpretation which has been placed upon them by me. As I agreed with the first part of Sri Saxena’s contention, viz., that it is not right to read a passage in an article divorced from the rest of it, I have read and re-read the entire article but could not find the offending passages susceptible of any other interpretation except the one already placed upon them by me.

11. Thus for the reasons stated above I am satisfied that Sri Rajeshwar Prasad Saxena has committed gross contempt of the Court of the Judicial Officer, City Kanpur, and he is liable to be punished therefor.

12. The next question to be considered is that of sentence. As Sri Rajeshwar Prasad Saxena went on justifying his act right upto the end, and did not express the slightest contrition even as a last resort and further having regard to the extent of the publication I am of the opinion that a sentence of six weeks simple imprisonment is the least that will suffice to meet the ends of justice. I, therefore, accept the report and holding Sri Rajeshwar Prasad Saxena guilty of contempt of Court, sentence him to six weeks simple imprisonment and also order him to pay Rs. 150, as costs to the Government Advocate within three month’s from today. Sri Rajeshwar Prasad Saxena shall surrender forthwith and serve out the sentence imposed upon him.

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