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S. Narayanabhatta Vs. Special First Class Magistrate - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1956CriLJ1415
AppellantS. Narayanabhatta
RespondentSpecial First Class Magistrate
Excerpt:
.....however earnest money was allowed to be refunded @ 6% interest. - to be recorded while the learned magistrate not feeling satisfied that the witness could give expression to her idea of time in those terms, elicited an answer from her with reference to the position of the sun and wanted to record only the latter answer. the appropriate course for the learned magistrate to have adopted in this instance was clearly to record the answer given by the witness on both occasions with such explanatory note as he deemed necessary. developed from a situation of daily occurrence in courts when counsel contend for particular positions and the courts require to be satisfied on various points that arise. it is scarcely necessary to emphasise that when under some exceptional provisions the..........to the proceedings.2. the circumstances leading to the drawing up of proceedings by the learned magistrate resulting in the conviction of the petitioner are as follows:3. the petitioner was appearing for the accused in c. c. no. 1131/55. on 21-12-55 one kempamma was examined as the second witness for the prosecution. in the course of her cross-examination the petitioner appears to have put a question to the witness seeking to elicit from her an answer involving the time factor, she gave the answer in terms of the hours of the clock i.e., as eight o'clock in the morning.the learned magistrate presumably thought that the witness had not understood the significance of the use of the words in those terms and himself asked her to signify the hour by pointing out the position of the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Sreenivasa Rao, J.

1. The petitioner who is an Advocate of this Court practising at Srirangapatna challenges by this revision petition his conviction for an offence under Section 228, Penal Code by the Special First Class Magistrate at Srirangapatna based on the finding that the petitioner's conduct in the course of a proceeding in C. C. No. 1131/55 on his file amounted to insulting the Court and caused interruption to the proceedings.

2. The circumstances leading to the drawing up of proceedings by the learned Magistrate resulting in the conviction of the petitioner are as follows:

3. The petitioner was appearing for the accused in C. C. No. 1131/55. On 21-12-55 one Kempamma was examined as the second witness for the prosecution. In the course of her cross-examination the petitioner appears to have put a question to the witness seeking to elicit from her an answer involving the time factor, she gave the answer in terms of the hours of the clock i.e., as eight o'clock in the morning.

The learned Magistrate presumably thought that the witness had not understood the significance of the use of the words in those terms and himself asked her to signify the hour by pointing out the position of the Sun. She appears to have stated that the position of the Sun was overhead.

The learned Magistrate wanted to record the answer in those terms. The petitioner seems to have insisted upon her previous answer, i.e., in terms of the hours of the clock, also being recorded. This led to verbal exchange between the learned Magistrate and the petitioner in the course of which according to the learned Magistrate, the petitioner conducted himself in such a way as to insult the Court and to interrupt the Court's proceedings.

Thereupon the learned Magistrate drew up proceedings narrating what according to him had taken place and asking the petitioner to show cause why he should not be committed for contempt of Court under Section 228, Penal Code. The petitioner in answer submitted a statement which seeks to traverse In detail the facts narrated in the proceedings drawn up by the learned Magistrate.

4. It is clear from reading the proceedings and the statement that there is substantial accord between the two as to how the unfortunate situation arose. The petitioner wanted the earlier answer given by the witness indicating the time as 8 a.m. to be recorded while the learned Magistrate not feeling satisfied that the witness could give expression to her idea of time in those terms, elicited an answer from her with reference to the position of the Sun and wanted to record only the latter answer.

It is significant to understand what difficulty there could have been in the learned Magistrate-recording both answers making a note, if he deemed it necessary, indicating why he himself had to put a question to the witness for elucidating what she meant. It is beyond dispute that the witness had given answer to the petitioner's question.

If the witness in response to the Court's question gave an answer appearing to be different from, the one previously given, it was quite natural for the petitioner to request the Court to record the Previous also. It is not suggested that the petitioner wanted only the former answer to be recorded.

While it is true that the Court has the power, and indeed it is its duty, to see that undue advantage is not taken of the ignorance of witnesses or parties, it is no less the duty of the Court to see that there is a faithful record of the proceedings in Court. The appropriate course for the learned Magistrate to have adopted in this instance was clearly to record the answer given by the witness on both occasions with such explanatory note as he deemed necessary.

5. There is some variation between the learned Magistrate's version and the petitioner's version as to what transpired thereafter. Indeed, even in regard to the context in which the learned; Magistrate thought it necessary to question the-witness the petitioner's statement suggests that it was because the witness's answer varied from, the answer given on the same point by the previous witness and the learned Magistrate therefore thought that the witness could not have understood the question properly the learned Magistrate felt called upon to put his own question.

This is not specifically dealt with in the judgment and if that was the context in which the-learned Magistrate felt he should ignore the question put by the petitioner and the answer given by the witness, it goes without saying that It was totally unjustified.

6. When the learned Magistrate refused to record the answer given by the witness to the petitioner's question the petitioner wanted his objection (as to the non-recording of the first answer) to be noted. The learned Magistrate thereupon wanted him to file an application in writing. The petitioner also appears to have taken some time to place before Court the provisions of law and the views of commentators in regard to the law applicable to the matter on hand.

There is some variation between the learned Magistrate and the petitioner whether this was done by the petitioner and his own initiative or at the instance of the Court. This however is immaterial. Finding that the earlier answer of the witness was not recorded and that his representation in regard to the overruling of his question and answer was not noted and that a written application was insisted upon, the petitioner seems to have told the Court that he wanted to retire from the case and also to have applied for time to move for a transfer of the case.

This part of what transpired In Court is also common ground between the petitioner and the learned Magistrate. But while the learned Magistrate appears to think that the petitioner's expression of a desire to retire from the case was Intended as a threat, the petitioner's stand is that he felt that his continuance in the case in the circumstances 'would not serve the interests of justice' and that it was only as an alternative that he asked for time to enable him to move for a transfer of the case.

7 According to what is stated in the proceedings drawn up by the learned Magistrate all this occupied 20 minutes during which period the witness had to stand in the witness box. In the learned Magistrate's view the conduct of the petitioner amounted to interruption of judicial proceedings and insult to and contempt of Court,

8. It is seen from what is mentioned above that the unfortunate events resulting in the petitioner's committal under Section 480, Criminal P.C. developed from a situation of daily occurrence in Courts when counsel contend for particular positions and the Courts require to be satisfied on various points that arise.

If for any reason the Court does not see its way to accept the position contended for by a counsel, there is nothing unnatural or wrong in the counsel requesting the Court to place on record its ruling. While it cannot be said that the Court is bound to record all contentions, objections or representations, even if they are of a trivial or a frivolous character, it is undoubtedly the Court's duty to record its decision on any matter of substance that arises in a case.

It can hardly be said that the petitioner's representation to place on record both the answers given by the witness was not a matter of substance. If some time was taken by the petitioner in looking up authorities to satisfy the Court about the correctness of the position contended for by him and if the discussion took some time and if all this occupied about 20 minutes, it can hardly be said that the petitioner interrupted the Court's proceedings.

Nor does it appear to me that the learned Magistrate was justified in thinking that when the petitioner expressed his desire to retire from the case or when he indicated that he was thinking of moving for a transfer, these representations were intended to be a threat. It is quite unnecessary to say whether the petitioner's retirement in the circumstances would be justified or whether a transfer application would be warranted.

If these steps were taken, they would undoubtedly be appropriately dealt with at the proper stage on their merits. But I cannot see how the mere circumstance that the petitioner expressed his intention to retire from the case or to move for a transfer of the case constituted a threat or insult. Thus even accepting the narration of events as given by the presiding officer or caused any interruption of the Court's proceedings including the charge drawn up by the Magistrate, the statement of the petitioner and the judgment of the learned Magistrate, all bear marks of hurry and lack of clarity and ordered thinking.

This may perhaps be partly due to the fact that everything had to be completed before the end of the day since the learned Magistrate took cognizance of the alleged offence under Section 480 (1), Criminal P.C. But I am also constrained to remark that they betray a lack of equanimity hardly conducive to the learned Magistrate taking a detached and objective view of the incident.

It is scarcely necessary to emphasise that when under some exceptional provisions the Court itself is constituted both the prosecutor and the judge, it is all the more incumbent upon the presiding officer not to lose a sense of perspective while there can be no doubt that it is the duty of all those appearing in Court and more particularly of counsel to conduct themselves with becoming decorum and restrained and to do nothing which is likely to bring down the prestige or dignity of the Court, it is equally essential that no occasion should be given for any party to feel that he has not been given the fullest opportunity to present his case or that there is not a fair, substantial and faithful record of the proceedings in Court.

These facts have to be borne in mind by the presiding officer and the counsel alike. As remarked by the Bombay High Court in the case reported in In re Dattatraya 6 Bom LR 541 (A):

Some latitude should be allowed to a member of the Bar insisting in the conduct of his case upon his question being taken down or his objections noted where the Court thinks the question inadmissible or the objections untenable. There ought to be a spirit of give and take between the Bench and the Bar in such matters and every little persistence on the part of a pleader should not be turned into an occasion for a criminal trial unless the pleader's conduct is so clearly vexatious as to lead to the inference that his intention is to insult or interrupt the Court.

9. As I have already Indicated above I find that even on the basis of the events as narrated in the learned Magistrate's charge and his judgment the petitioner's conduct cannot be held to have intentionally caused any interruption to the Court's proceedings or to have constituted any insult to the presiding officer.

10. This revision petition is accordingly allowed and the conviction of the petitioner is set aside. The fine if recovered shall be refunded to the petitioner.


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