Thadani Ag. C. J.
1. On 23rd April 1949, the Deputy Commissioner of Goalpara, Stiri K. C. Barna, addressed a letter to the Registrar (Judicial) of this Court, in these terms :
I have the honour to bring the following faot3 to your kind notice for taking necessary actions ag tha Hon'ble Court deems fit. The fasts appear to me to constitute on offence under Contempt of Courts Act, 1926, as well as misconduct of certain pleaders and Advocates practising in Dhubd Court under. the Legal Practitioners Act, 1879, The facts are briefly as follows :
In the course of an enquiry under the Assam Land and Eevenue Begulation by the Sadar 3. D. C. Mr. D. Sarma.ona Miss Sumati Das Gupta, Sterotary, Ladies. Club, was asked to produce certain records of tha Club and attend his enquiry personally. On her failure to do so, a daily fine of Ra, 10 was imposed on her Under Section 142, Assam Land and Eevenue Regulation on 23rd March 1949 until the papers would be produced. The next day a Distress Warrant was Eaued and a teapoy was attached and sold for RSection 10. On 25th March 1949, an appeal was filed by Mr. U, N Sanyal, B L. and Mr. J,N. Chat-terjee, M. A. B. L., two practising pleaders of Dhubri' Bar, betoie me as Deputy Commissioner. On 26th March 1S49, while the appeal was pending in my Court,- the said two pleaders, along with others, convened a public meeting condemning the actions of the S. D. C. for imposing a fine on a lady. A printed leaflet, dated '25th March 1949, for convening the meeting on 26th was circulated with the names of the said two pleaders and Mr. E&mani; Kanta Boss, B. L. who 13 also a pleader of the local Bar (now said to have been enrolled as an Advocota in the Hon'ble High Court) and a few other pleaders and gentlemen of the town as conveners. A copy of the notice is enclosed herewith. The notice does not contain the name of the press. The notice itself condemns the actions of the authorities as unjust, illegal and unseemly. Mr. Ramani Kanta Boae delivered a speech attacking the actions of the S. D. C. in violent language and declaring the orders of the S. D. C. to be ultra vires and illegal. Mr. Sanyal and Mr. Chatterjae were present at the meeting. As the appeal against the order which was thus condemned by Mr. R. K. Bose and others was pending in my Court at the time when the notice was circulated and the speeches made, I consider the three gentlemen mentioned above to have committed an offence under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1926 Further the three gentlemen, who are members of the legal profession, appear to be guilty of misconduct under the Legal Practitioners Act, 1879. I would, therefore, request you to please place the matter before the Hon'ble High Court for favour of taking necessary actions against the offending persona as the Hon'ble High Court deems fit.
The appeal has since been disposed of holding the orders of the S. D. C. to be legal but modifying the order by reducing the amount of fine and allowing a week's time to produce the papers asked for.
2. On receipt of this letter, the Deputy Commissioner was required by this Court to furnish verified contents of the speech which Mr. R. K. Bose was alleged to have made, together with a verified copy of the translation of the notice, This requisition was complied with by the Deputy Commissioner on 23rd May 1949. On 3rd June 1949, this Court issued a Rule calling upon (1) Sri Upendra Saran Sanyal, (2) Sri Bainani Kinta Basu, (3) Sri Satyapriya Basu, (i) Sri Binshidhar Agarwalla, (5) Hemendra Chandra Dasgupta, (6) Syed Ahmed Ali, (7) Sri Jatindra Natb Chattopadhya, (8) Sri Cbintaharan Pal, (9) Sri Surendra Mohan Sen, (10) Sri Amal Kanta Ganguli, and (11) Sri Eathindra Kumar Go3-wami, to show cause why they should not be dealt with for contempt of Court. The Rule came up for hearing on 4th July 1949. (After reproducing the notice convening the public meeting referred to in the Deputy Commissioner's letter of reference and the report, dated 23rd May 1949, of the speeches alleged to have been delivered at the public meeting and made by the Inspector of C I. D., his Lordship proceeded.)
3. The facts culminating in the public meet-ing of 26th March 1949. may now be stated. In 1986, a club called The Ladies' Club wa3 formed at Dhubri and housed on a plot of land granted to the Club free of land-revenue by the Government of Assam. The club-house was built from public subscriptions. On 10th February 1949, an Association called The Dhubri Mahila Samiti applied to the Deputy Commissioner, Goalpara, Mr. K. C. Barua, for a plot of laud at Dhubri fop housing the Samiti. The Deputy Commissioner endorsed the application on 15th February 1949 in these terms :
S D. C., Mr. D Saraa, will please report. He will also please examine if there be any records as to how and under what conditions the present Ladies' Club building was handed over, and report.
4. On 28th February 1S49. Sri Sarma, the 9. D. C., wrote the following letter to the Secretary of the Ladie Club:
I have the honour to request you to be go good as to furnish me the following informations about the Club: (1) How and when it baa been given and (or what purpose? (2) The conditions, if there be any, to be fulfilled and observed. (3) How it has been utilised at present? (4) Bulea (or enrolment of members of the Club. (S) The number of enrolled members at present. If it is not utilised for the purpose for which it has been given, what objection there may be if it is resumed by the Government? I would request you to treat this as urgent, and to send the reply at a very early date. We nave had to take prompt action on the subject mainly due to some letter received from the Government.
5. On 6th March 1949, Sri Sarma wrote a reminder to the Secretary, Ladies' Club, Dhubri, and the Secretary, Miss Dasgupta, replied to the 3. D. O's. letter on 8th March 1949. [After reproducing the reply the judgment proceeded.] The 8. D. C, sent the following reply to the Secretary on 21st March 1949 :
I have received your letter under referenoe on 14th March 1949, and to say that full informations required have not been found in the latter. However, I would like to inspect the records of the club on 23rd Maroii 1949 at about 9 A. H. It will be good of you if you please arrange for the inspection and attend it.
On the same day, the s. D. C. wrote the follow-ing letter to the Chief Secretary of the Dhubri Mahila Samiti:
With wferenoe to your letter of _8th February 1949, to the address of the Hon'ble Minister, Finance and Bevenue, I have to say that there is a plot of reserve land with a decent building for the Ladies' Club atthia town. I would request you to kindly lot me know why your Samiti requirea another plot of land; so far I see that there is sufficient land in the Beserve Dag wherein you may crept house etc., for th9 implementation of the weaving and other activities of your Samiti.
I propose to inspect the records of the Ladies' Club at 9 A. M. on 23rd March 1949. It will be pleasant privilege for me if I find to hear more about your activities and difficulties about it there.
Contrasted with the official tone of the letter addressed to the Secretary, Ladies' Club, Dhubri, the tone of the letter addressed to the Chief Secretary of the Samiti may be regarded as almost subservient, having regard to the conclu-ding 2 lines :
It will be pleasant privilege for me it find to here more about your activities and difficulties about it there.
6. On the following day, 22nd March 1949, the Secretary of the Ladies' Club, Dhubri, replied to the S. D. c's. letter, dated 21st March 1949. The reply reads :
With referenoe to your letter of today's date, I would like to say that I have made an engagement with Mrs. L. Roy tomorrow morning Thus I am afraid, it will not be possible for me to see you at 8 A. M. at the tiiflu of inspection. Moreover, this Club is not a Government institution. So, I find it irregular to have the records inspected by a Sob-Deputy Collector, Sadar. I would like to let you know later when and whether the records may be opened to be inspected by the Government officer.
The S. D. C. then addressed the Seoretary, Ladies' Club, Dhubri, on 22nd March 1949, as follows:
With referenoe to your letter of today's date, I have the pleasure to say that on official capaoity as Sub-Deputy Collector, Sadar, I have to inspect the records of the Ladies' Club here. It will not take a long time. If the time at 9 A. M does not suit you, I shall go to inspect it at 8 A. M. I hope you will please arrange for, it. I do not understand why a Secretary of a publia institution cannot have the authority to show the records of it for the inspection of a Government officer.
7. On 23rd March 1949, the S. D. C. went to the Ladies' Club at 8 A. M. and after calling out the lady Secretary's name thrice, to which there was no response, ha made an order fining her RSection 10 Under Section 142, Assam Land and Kevenuo Regulation, and made a further order that the Secretary was liable to pay a recurring fine of BSection 10 a day so long as she did not appear before him in his Court with all the relevant papers of the Club. This order was communicated by the 8. D. C. to the Secretary, Ladies' Club, Dhubri, on the same day. On 25th March 1949, an appeal was preferred to the Deputy Commissioner, against the order of the S, D. 0,, dated the 23rd March 1949. While the appeal was pending befere the Deputy Commissioner, the eleven respondents called a public meeting for 26th March 1949, by a public notice issued on 25th March 1949, On 25th March 1949, a meeting in pursuance of the public notice, was held, at which oerfcain speeches were delivered. The public notice, dated 25th March 1949, convening the meeting for 26th March 1949, and the alleged speeches delivered at the meeting are the subject-matter of the present proceedings.
8. Messrs. Mookerji and Ghose for the respondents have urged a number of grounds againet the reference made by the Deputy Coramipsioner, sub we propose to dispose of the reference upon the short ground that having regard to the relevant provisions of the Assam Land and Eevenue Regulation, the Deputy Commiasioner of Goal para was not a Court in which the appeal preferred against the order of the 8. D. C., Dhubri, dated 23rd March 1949, was pending.
9. It will be recalled that the Deputy Gom-raiesioDer, Goalpara, had endorsed the application of the Samiti, dated 10th February 1949, to. the following effect:
S. D. C Mr. Sarma will please report. He will also please examine if there be any records as to bow and under what conditions the present Ladie' Olubbuilding was handed over and report.
10. We will now proceed to examine the provisions of the Regulation in relation to the report and examination called for by the Deputy Commissioner. Section 129, Assam Land and Revenue Regulation reads as follows :
129. (1) Subject to any rules which the Provincial Government may make in this behalf, a Deputy Commissioner or Subrfivisional Officer may refer any case to any Eevenue Officer subordinate to him for investigation and report, or, if that officer has power to dispose .of the case, for disposal
(2) Subject as aforesaid, a Deputy Commissioner may direct that any Revenue Officer subordinate to him Shall, without such reference, deal with any case or class of cases arising within any specified area, and either investigate and report on the case or class of cases, or, if he has power, dispose of it himself.
(3) A subordinate Eevenue Officer shall submit his report on any case referred to him under this section for report to the officer referring it, or otherwise as may be directed in the order of reference ; and the officer receiving the roport may, if be has power to dispote of the case, dispose of the same, or may return it for further investigation to the officer submitting the report or may hold the investigation himself.
11. We think what the 8. D. C. was required to do when the D. C referred to him the application made by the Samiti, was firstly, to report as to the availability of the plot of land mensur. ing about half a bigha, bounded on the nortb : by Municipal Latrine ; south : holding of Sjt, N. N. Guha occupied by the District Congress Office; east; D. K. Road; and west: dead Gadadhar river; and secondly, to examine the records with a view to asoertaining the conditions upon which the Ladies' Club building was handed over to the Club. Under Sub-section (3) of 8. 129 of the Regulation, the s. D. c. had to submit his report to the Deputy Commissioner. It is common ground that no such report wa8 submitted to the Deputy Commissioner.
12. Chapter viii of the Regulation containing Sections. 141 and 142 deals with 'Procedure', Sections 141 and 142 of the Regulation read as follows:
141. (1) The Provincial Government and any officer mentioned in Section 140 may summon any person whose attendance they consider necessary for the purposes of any investigation or other business before them conducted under this Regulation,
(2) All persons be summoned shall be bound to attend either in person or by authorised agent as such outer may direct ; and to state the truth upon any subject respecting which they are examined; and to produce such documents and other things as may be required.
142 If any person fails to comply within the time fixed by a notice served on him with any requisition mads upon him Under Section 141, the officer making the requisition may impede upon him ague daily fine as he thinks fit, not exceeding fifty rupees, until the requisition is complied with:
Provided that, whenever the amount levied under an order under this section passed by an officer other this the Commissioner or the Provincial Government exceeds five hundred rupees, the Deputy Commissioner shall roport the case to the Commissioner, or, if there is no Commissioner, to the Provincial Government, and no further levy in respect of the fine shall be made otherwise than by authority of the Commissioner or Provincial Government as the case may be.
10. Chapter VII, Assam Land and Revenue Manual contains Rules framed under sSection 129,15 and 155 (b) and (c) relating to procedure, the mode of serving processes, and process-fees. Rule 181 is in these terms :
181. The provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, and of enactments amending the same, relating to the trial of suits, the evidence and examination of witnesses, procuring the attendance of witnesses, and the production of documents, shall apply to all proceedings of a judicial nature, other than appeals, held before a Deputy Gmmiasioner or other Revenue Officer or a Settlement Officer duly empowered to hold such proceedings.
For the purposes of this rule, the following proceedings under the Land and Revenue Regulation shall be regarded as proceedings of a judicial nature :
(a) Proceedings in connection with boundary disputes (Section 23) ; (b) Proceedings in connection with disputes relating to the record of right (Sections 41 and 42) ; (a) Resumption proceedings (Section 43) ; (d) Proceedings in connection with applications for mutation and registration of names (Sections 53 and 54) ; (u) Proceedings in connection with applications for registration of talukdari and other similar tenures (Section 56) ; (f) Proceedings in cunnectinn with applications for separate accounts (Section 65); (g) Proceedings arising out of the attachment or sale of moveablo or immoveable property, or of applications to set aside sale, under Chap V; (h) Proceedings in connection with the partition or union of estates under Cnap. VI; (I) Any other proceedings expressly deolared by rules issued under the provisions of the Land and Bevenue [Regulation to be judicial proceedings.
The marginal note to Section 193 of the Rules framed under the Regulation is 'executive procedure,' and the Section 183 itself reads :
In proceedings other than those mentioned in Section 181, witnesses shall not be examined on oath, and a memorandum only of their evidence shall be recorded. Such memorandum shall be written and signed by the Revenue Officer who examines the witnesses, and may be written in the language of the Court, or in English, if the revenue officer is sufficiently acquainted with English.
14. Having regard to the provisions of Section 181, it is manifest that neither the enquiry and report called for by the Deputy Commissioner on the application of the Samiti from the S.D.O. nor hi3 action taken or purporting to have been taken under Sections 141 and 142 of the Regulation were proceedings of a judicial nature. Clauses (a) to (h) of Section 181 enumerate what are judicial proceedings. The language of Clause (1) justifies the conclusion that in be far as Rule 181 deals with the category of judicial proceedings under the Regulation, it is exhaustive, that is to say, if no other proceedings are expressly declared by the rules framed under the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation to be judicial proceedings, they are not to be regarded as judicial proceedings. Rule 183 tenda to support this view. It refers to proceedings other than those mentioned in Section 181 as 'executive procedure,' in other words, proceedings of an executive nature.
15. The learned Advocate-General for the Deputy Commissioner conceded that the enquiry and report called for by the Deputy Commissioner cannot be regarded as judicial proceedings within the meaning of the Land and Revenue Regulation. But he contended that when in the course of the enquiry and report, the S. D. C. de-cided to have recourse to Section 141 of the Regulation and proceeded to pass an order Under Section 12 of the Regulation, the order so passed was passed in a judicial proceeding. We do not think we can give weight to this contention, having regard to the provisions of Section 181 framed under the Rsgulation, which does not include proceedings Under Section 141 or Section 142 of the Regulation in the category of judicial proceedings. Indeed the note to Section 183 says :
In virtue of Section 141, Clause (2), witnesses may bepunishad for giving false evidenoe even though they have not been examined on oath.
The note tends to suggest that although proceedings Under Section 141 are not judicial proceedings, nevertheless persons giving false evidence can be punished under that section. We think the concession made by the learned Advocate-General, namely, that the enquiry and report called from the B.D.c.was not judicial proceedings must be ex-tended to proceedings taken or purported to have been taken by the S. D. c. under SSection 1 and 142 of (the Regulation. We do not wish to say in this order anything about the legality or otherwise of the proceedings alleged to have been taken by the S. D. c. under 8Section 141 and 142 of the Regulation in view of the pendency of an application in revision against the order of the Deputy Commissioner passed in appeal against the order of the s. D. c, dated 23rd March 1949.
16. The learned Advocate-General next contended that, assuming the proceedings taken by the S. D. C. under RSection 141 and 142 of the Regulation were not judicial proceedings, as soon as an appeal was preferred to the Deputy Commissioner under the Regulation in pursuance of Section 147 of the Regulation, the Deputy Commissioner became a Court, and anything said or done during the pendency of the appeal before the Deputy Commissioner which had the tendency to interfere with the course of justice, constituted contempt of the Court, which this Court was competent to punish. We can find no justification for the proposition that a non-judicial proceeding must be regarded as a judicial proceeding merely because there is a statutory provision for a right of appeal from an order made in a non-judicial proceeding. On the contrary, we think there is ample justification for maintaining the character of the original proceeding, notwithstanding the statutory right of appeal against an order made in nonjudioial proceedings. For instance, an order passed by a customs officer under the Sea Customs Act, unquestionably an order passed in non-judicial proceedings, does not become an order passed in judicial proceedings when, in pursuance of a right of appeal under the Sea Customs Act, an appeal is preferred to the Chief Customs Authority. The learned Advocate-General was unable to cite any authority in support of his contention that an original non-judicial proceeding can be regarded as a judicial proceedings upon appealjinade to a prescribed revenue authority under the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation. The learned Advocate General very properly conceded that if the proceedings in appeal before the Deputy Commissioner in this case are. to be regarded as non judicial proceedings the question of our interference under the Contempt of Courts Act does not arise.
17. In the view we take of the nature of the proceedings before the Deputy Commissioner, namely, that they were not judicial proceedings, whatever was said and done by the respondents on 25th or 26fch March 1949, cannot be regarded as contempt of Court. We heard this reference for more than 3 days from every conceivable point of view, including the motive underlying the reference. Happily it is not necessary to refer to the motives of the parties concerned in this case. The facts are nauseating enough without probing into questions of motives.
18. In the result, we reject the reference and discharge the rule issued against the respondents. The reference will be returned to the Deputy Commiesicner.
19. Ram Labhaya J.- I entirely agree with learned the Chief Justice. I wish however to add a few words.
20. The crucial question in the case is whether the publication of the notice dated 25th March 1949 and the speeches delivered at the meeting amount to contempt of a 'Court' within the meaning of the expression as used in the contempt of Courts Act, Under Section 2 (1) of the Act this Court has the same power to punish contempts of Courts subordinate to it as it has of punishing contempts of its own authority. The learned Counsel for the opposite parties urges that the Sub-Deputy Collector and the Deputy Commissioner, the appellate authority, both were mot Courts within the meaning of the Act when they purported to act under the Assam Land and Bevenue Regulation. [After recapitulating the facts culminating in the allegation that the contents of the notice and the speeches delivered constitute contempt of Court, his Lordship proceeded.] The character of the proceedings detailed above is in question. It is to be determined whether the proceedings held by the Sub-Deputy Collector on the original side and by the Deputy Commissioner on the appellate side are proceedinga before a 'Court within the meaning of the expression which may be assigned to it under the Contempt of Courts Act.
21. The learned Advocate-General could not refer us to any provision of the Regulation which would cover the application of the Sarniti made to the Deputy Commissioner. The order for enquiry and report does not refer to any provision of the law. We do not find it possible to place this order under any provision of the Regulation. The enquiry by the Sub Deputy Colleotor would, therefore, be not covered by the Regulation. He did not appear to have started 8ny formal proceedings on receiving the application with the Deputy Commissioner's endorsement. It was for the first time on 22nd March after the Secretary of the Ladies' Club had objected to the inspection of the records as something irregular that the Sub-Deputy Collector informed her that he would inspect the reoords in his official capacity. Even in this letter no reference was made to Section 142 of the Regulation or to the consequence of disobedience. The proceedinga so far give no indication as to their nature and the learned Advocate-General could not help conceding that the enquiry by the Sub-Deputy Collector was not under any Chapter of the Regulation. He stated that it was certainly not Under Section 48 of the Regulation, which deals with resumption of certain lands which are wholly or partially revenue free.
22. The proceedings are again admittedly non-judicial even if the Sub-Deputy Collector's. bona fide believed that he was acting under the Regulation. Chapter vir, Land Eevenue Manual contains rules framed under Sections 129,152 and 155 (b) and (c)Rule is provides that the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code and all enactments amending the same relating to the trial of suits, evidence and examination of wit. nesses, procuring the attendance of witnesses and of production of documents shall apply to all proceedings of a judicial nature other than appeal before a Deputy Commissioner or other officer or a Settlement Officer duly empowered to hold such proceedings. The proceedings enumerated in different clauses of the section do not include the present proceedings. This is conceded by the learned Advocate-General, According to the scheme of the Regulation, proceedings under it are either judicial, viz, those mentioned in Rule 181 or non-judicial, viz., those not covered by Section 181. The non-judicial proceedings are dealt under Rule 183. Bat it is necessary that even those proceedings to which Rule 83 applies should be under the Regulation. The description of the nature of the proceedings not covered by Section 181 as given on the margin of the rules is 'Executive Proceedings'. The Regulation does not create any revenue Courts as distinct from Eevenue Officers. It makes, however a distino-tion between proceedinga which are described as judicial and all others which do not fall under that category. In proceedings which are non-judicial, the witnesses are not to be examined on oath and a memo of their evidence alone is to be recorded. The proceedings in the present case do not fall under any of the two categories.
23. The Deputy Commissioner has the power to refer any case to a Eevenue Officer subordinate to him for investigation and report. This power is conferred on him by Section 129 of the Regulation. Now, it cannot be contended that Section 129 could be utilised by a Deputy Commissioner even when he is not acting under the Regulation. He can order his subordinate Revenue Officer to investigate and report on matters which coma before him in his capacity as a Eevenue Officer acting under the Regulation. The Deputy Commissioner when directing the Sub-Deputy Collector to enquire and report did not purport to act under this section.
24. Section 142 of the Regulation punishes failure to comply with a notice served on a person with any requisition made upon him Under Section 141. The officer making the requisition may impose upon him such daily fine as thinks fit, not exceeding Rs. 50 until the requisition is complied with. When the amount levied under an order under this section passed by an Officer other than the Commissioner or the Provincial Government exceeds Bs. 00, the case has to be reported to the Commissioner, or it there is no Commissioner to the Provincial Government. Non-compliance is punishable only if the requisition is covered by Section 141. Under this section the Provincial Government and any other officer' mentioned in Section 140 may summon any person whose attendance they consider necessary for the purposes of any investigation or other businesa before them to be conducted under the Regulation. Persona so summoned are bound to attend either in person or by authorised agent, they are bound to state the truth and to produce such doouraenta as may be required of them. This section gives the necessary power to Officers acting under the Regulation when their proceedings are not covered by E. 181. It is obvious, however, that the requisition Under Section 141 can be made only for purposes of investigation or other bnsiness under the Regulation. The proceedings in this case were initiated by an application to the Deputy Commissioner, The SubrDeputy Collector was merely to report after enquiry. He had not to pass any final orders, The application was not under the Eegulation, Similarly, the enquiry that followed was not covered by any provision of the Regulation. No requisition under Section 141 could be issued, and in these circumstances the powers given to Revenue Officers by Section 142 could not be invoked on the failure of the Seoretary, Ladies' Club, to comply with the requisition,
25. It is at last clear that the Sub-Deputy Collector was not performing any judicial function when ho directed the Secretary, Ladies' club, to appear at the club and place club's records before him for inspection. The enquiry was not under any law. There was thus no procedure prescribed for it. The procedure which governs Courts, Civil, Criminal or Revenue, did not apply to his enquiry. His resort to Section 142 of the Regulation when he encountered resistance in the course of his enquiry was unauthorised. He had no jurisdiction to avail himself of its provisions. It would not be possible to describe him as a Court in these ciroumstancea. The word 'Court' has not been defined in the Contempt of Courts Act. There is no definition of it even in the Code of Criminal Procedure. The definition of the word ' Court' as given in the Evidence Act would include all Judges, Magistrates and all peraons except arbitrators legally authorised to take evidence. This definition is for purpose of the Evidence Act which did not apply to the enquiry which the Sub-Deputy Collector was making in this case. In the absence of any definition of the word in the Contempt of Court Act, the word has got to be interpreted in its general sense. In Haricharan v. Kaushi Charan, 11 C. W. N. 680 : A.I.R. (27) 1940 Cal. 286 : 41 Cr.L.J. 662, the question arose whether a Debt Settlement Board was a Court within the meaning of Section 196, Criminal P.C. Decisions bearing on the question of the general attributes of a Court were examined in this case and a summary of these attributes given by Curgpnven J. in Mahabaleswarappa v. Q-opalaswaini Mudaliar, 68 Mad. 954 at pp. 966, 967 : A.I.R. (22) 1935 Mad. 673 : 86 Cr.L.J. 895, was adopted a as laying down correctly the attributes by which it may be possible to distinguish a Court from other officers exercising non- judicial functions. The observations of Curgenven J. are as follows:
To summarise the effect of these decisions it would seem that we have to look, not the source of a tribunal's authority, or to any peculiarity in the method adopted of. creating it, (thug it is undoubted) y a aonsideration that it derives its powers mediately or immediately from the Crown) but to the genera] character of its power and activities. If it has power to regulate legal rights by the delivery of definitive judgments, and to enforce its orders by legal sanctions, and if its procedure is judicial in character, in such matters as the taking of evidence and the administration of the oath., then it is a Court.
26. The learned Judges of the Calcutta High Court obaerved further that particular emphasis should also be laid upon what they considered to be 'an essential feature of all Courts, viz. that the tribunal in question must be one in which justice is judicially administered, and which is empowered to arrive at an independent judicial decision on legal evidence.' The application of these teats to the case before them yielded the result that a Debt Settlement Board was not a Court.
27. I am in respectful agreement with the statement of law contained in this case as to the general attributes of a Court. If the' teat laid down above is applied, there can be no question that the proceedings in the original as well as in the appellate stage were not in a Court. The Sub- Deputy Collector had merely to make a report in an executive or in an administrative matter. His enquiry was not covered even by the Regulation. He had no power to regulate legal rights by delivery of: definitive judgment. His procedure even if he Were treated as a Revenue Officer acting under the Regulation was admittedly non-judicial in character as these proceedings were not covered by Section 181 and were, there/ore, expressly taken out of the category of judicial proceedings. He had admittedly no power to admicister oath. He had no power to arrive at an independent judicial decision on legal evidence. The proceedings before him, therefore, were not in a Court.
When he resorted to s, 142 punishing the defaulter on the failure of the Secretary to comply with his order, he no doubt purported to act under the Regulation, though ho had no jurisdiction to do as Even when taking action as such, he was not clothed with the authority of a Court and his proceedings were not judicial in character.
28. The proceeding before the appellate authority, viz., the Deputy Commissioner, was also not a proceedings in a Court. If the Sub-Deputy Collector had not taken action Under Section 142 of the Regulation, he would merely have reported to the Deputy Commissioner. The report would have been merely an executive or administrative act of an Executive Officer. The appellate jurisdiction of the Deputy Commissioner sprang or arose from the fact that the Sub-Deputy Collector had at one stage of the proceedings purported to act under the Regulation. When he took action under the Regulation, his orders became appealable and the appeal lay to the Deputy Commissioner. The Deputy Commissioner, therefore, was acting under the Regulation in entertaining and disposing of the appeal against the order of conviction of the Secretary of the Ladies' Club. As a Revenue Officer exercising appellate jurisdiction in a matter which according to the Regulation was not a judicial proceeding even he could not be regarded as a Court. He also did not possess those attributes which go to make a Court. The mere fact that he exercised appellate jurisdiction would not convert him into a Court. In Sashi Bhusan v. Ful Khan, 44. C. W. N. 763 : A.I.R. (27) 1940 Cal. 464 : 41 Or. L. 3. 951, it was held that like Debt Settlement Boards, an appellate Officer also is not a 'Court' within the meaning of Section 195, Criminal P, C, In that case, the learned Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court when considering whether the Debt Settlement Tribunal was a ' Court' or not, observed as follows:
There is an old definition and yet a, comprehensive one by great authority ; it is that of Sir Edward Coke in Ms treatise Coke on Littleton, 58-a, where he Bays 'a Court is a place where justice is judicially ministered.
With this dictum in view he held that the functions of the Debt Settlement Tribunals on the original as well as appellate side, however admirable their purposes, did not come within this wider definition. They were held not to be Courts.
29. Against this view the learned Advocate. General has cited only Advocate-General v. Maung Chit Mauvg A.I.R. (27) 1910-Bang, 68: 41 Cr.L.J. 470. But this authority does not help him. The question in this case was whether a Sub-Divisional Magistrate when hold, ing an inquiry Under Section 176, Criminal P.C. was acting as a Court for the purposes of Section 2, Contempt of Courts Act. It was held that the word 'Court' was used in the Contempt of Courts Act in the same wider sense in which it was used in Section 195, Criminal P.C. The meaning given to the word 'Court' for purposes of that section was held to include a tribunal empowered to deal with a particular matter and authorised to receive evidence bearing on that matter in order to arrive at a determination. Giving this wider sesen to the word, the learned Judge of the Rarjgoon High Court held that a Magistrate holding an enquiry into the cause of death who must come to a finding as to what caused that death and who caused it cornea within that definition. For the purposes of his enquiry he has authority to receive evidence. The enquiry, therefore, was held to be covered by the expression 'judicial proceedings' as defined in the Criminal Procedure Code. 16 is the judicial character of the proceedings that was the basis of the decision. In this case, the proceedings of the Sub-Deputy Collector were admittedly not judicial. His action Under Section 142 was in excess of his authority, The Rangoon case, therefore, is distinguishable.
30. In these circumstances it is clear that the proceedings, both original and appellate, with which we are concerned in this case, were not before a Court and the Contempt of Courts Act, therefore, has no application.