1. This is an application under Section 3, Contempt of Courts Act. In the affidavit filed along with the application the petitioner is stated to be an accused along with 25 others in C. C. No. 1221/51-52 on the file of the Special First Class Magistrate, K. G. F., for alleged offences under Sections 34, 114, 120 and 436, I. P. C. The case against the accused in that case is said to be that A-1 to A-26 conspired together to cause mischief by fire in Nundydroog Mines and in pursuance of such conspiracy A-1 to A-4 and A-23 to A-26 caused such mischief by fire on 20-8-1951 resulting in damage to the mine and loss to the management of the value of about Rs. 20,000/-. While the matter was thus 'sub judice' Mr. Arthur H. E. Taylor who is the Managing Director of Messrs John Taylor and Sons, India Ltd., presiding over an Annual General Meeting of the Mining Companies held on 27th and 28-2-1951 is said to have stated as follows:
'The regrettable outbreaks of fire which have occurred in the Mine since the close of the period under review have cast a shadow over this year's working. These outbreaks were undoubtedly due to sabotage and have resulted in loss to the company, labour and Government and, though loss of life in fact did not take place, this might well have been the case. The police have instituted criminal proceedings against certain persons accused of being connected with these acts of sabotage.'
He is said to have also caused the same to be published in the Deccan Herlad and the Hindu-There is no complaint against these newspapers and we have not been asked to take action against them.
2. The petitioner complains that the speech of the respondent and its publication in the newspapers characterising the fire in the mine as being undoubtedly due to sabotage and stating that the police have instituted criminal proceedings against certain persons accused of being connected with these acts of sabotage are misleading and prejudicial and are a vilification of the accused and amount to contempt of Court.
3. Mr. Shamanna, learned counsel for the petitioner has contended before us that the effect of such a statement and its publication amount to interference with the course of justice as the respondent has arrogated to himself the role of an investigator and usurped to himself the function of the Court of law by expressing an opinion on a matter which was sub judice'. It was also an attempt to influence the public, the shares-holders of the Mining Companies to be prejudiced against the accused in the criminal proceedings and would tend to prevent the Court from adjudicating and doing justice in the case on the facts before it. There is no doubt some room for complaining that the respondent has, by saying that the incidents which are alleged to have taken place on 20-8-1951 were undoubtedly due to sabotage, given expression to an opinion on a matter which is 'sub judice' and this might well have been avoided. But the circumstances under which that statement was made and whether it would tend to prejudice the fair and impartial trial of the case and would therefore amount to contempt is a matter for consideration. It appears to have been not merely proper to the Managing Director of the Mining Companies but even his duty to report to the shareholders at a General Body meeting what in the view of the management was the cause for those incidents. The reference is not to any of the accused personally nor has he said that the accused who are now being prosecuted are guilty. He has merely stated that the Police had instituted criminal proceedings against certain persons accused of being connected with these acts.
4. Those incidents could be due to either some unknown cause, or a result of some accident, or on account of sabotage, the result of some wanton and deliberate act of some person or persons known or unknown. If the Managing Director, while reporting the incident expressed his own view to the share holders of the company that it was not due to the first of' the two causes but on account of the third cause, it is difficult to hold that he had either the intention) which may not of course be conclusive in determining whether the same amounts to an offence of contempt or not, or much less, whether he considered, that it might land to interfere with the course of justice, or whether in fact it would tend to do so. We have absolutely no doubt, and it is not even suggested before us to the contrary, that the _Magistrate before whom the case is pending will try and decide the case without any reference to the opinion of the Managing Director. The case is not being heard by a Jury and therefore the fear that the speech might prejudice the public against the accused and thereby cause them harm has not much real force.
5. Mr. Shamanna has relied on a case reported in -- '50 Mys HCR 129' (A) where some references made to a pending criminal case by the then Minister for Revenue and Law were Held to amount to a technical contempt of Court. In that case it was observed that the applicant in that case contended that he was aggrieved not so much by the fact of publication as by the fact that the answers amounted to a definite opinion on the part of Law Minister to Government that he was guilty of the offence. Even in that case Venkataramana Rao C. J. pointed out that the applicant did not come to Court immediately after the publication but waited for nearly a month before he moved the High Court and referred to--'Reg. v. Payne', (1896) 1 QB 577 (B), as laying down a proper rule in the matter of interference by this Court in such cases as follows:
'No doubt the power which the Court possesses in such cases is a salutary power, and it ought to be exercised in cases where there is real contempt, but only where there are serious grounds for its exercise.'
In -- 'Governor of Bengal v. Motilal Ghosh', AIR 1914 Cal 69 at p. 109 (SB) (C) Jenkins C. J. has pointed out that it is not enough that there should be a technical contempt of Court; it must be shown that it was probable the publication would substantially interfere with the due administration of justice. In -- 'Ananta Lal Singh v. A. H. Watson' : AIR1931Cal257 fourteen persons belonging to the Congress Party were accused of various offences and were being tried at Chittagong by a Special Tribunal. The Editor of 'Statesman' of Calcutta in the course of an editorial dealt with a controversy raised by another newspaper regarding the acts of violence alleged to have been committed by the Congress party at Chittagong and referred to the accused persons as 'Chittagong Raiders.' He had omitted the usual prefix 'alleged' employed in such cases while referring to persons against whom the trial 'was pending though he made the correction later. Even in those circumstances'Rankin C. J. held that even the omission of the word 'alleged' did not make any material difference and though there was a contempt of Court committed by the pacer in question it did not call for serious interference at his hands.
6. In -- 'Hunt v. Clarke', (1889) 58 LJQB 490 (E), Cotton L. J. observed:
'And in my opinion, although..... there is here that which is technically a contempt, and may be such a contempt as to be of a serious nature, I cannot think there is any such interference, or any such fear of any such interference, with the due conduct of this action.....as to justify the Court interfering by this summary and arbitraryprocess.'
In -- '50 Mys HCR 129' (A), Venkataramana Rao C. J. also ultimately concluded that no interference was called for for the exercise of the jurisdiction vested in him under the Contempt of Courts Act against respondent 1. He was, however, inclined to take a more serious view against the newspapers who had published the answers given by respondent 1 and even in that connection has observed at p. 141 of the report as follows:
'As I have already held, respondents 2, 3 and 4 are clearly guilty of contempt of Court in publishing the said report and 'they had far less excuse than that of respondent 1 who probably thought that he was obliged to give the answers' after the ruling of the President. But they state that they did it 'bona fide' and without any malice in the belief that they were merely publishing the report of the proceedings.'
As no allegations of mala fides or malice had been made by the applicant against them and as they had also published the subsequent proceedings which related to the expunging of the matter he directed dismissal of the application as against them also. That case is therefore really not in favour of the petitioner, and the words italicised (here in ' ') above really somewhat help the respondent.
7. In a recent case, Contempt of Court case of L. S. Raju, a Bench of this Court has held following -- '49 Mys HCR 22' (F) that any writing published, which is not calculated to bring a Court or a Judge of the Court into contempt or to lower his authority or obstruct or interfere with due course of justice or the lawful process of the Courts, is not a contempt of Court within the meaning of the Contempt of Courts Act. It is very unlikely that the words in question which are merely at the most an expression of opinion of a person who is practically in the position of a complainant is likely to be taken any serious notice of by any Court of law which is trying the offence and therefore is not likely to obstruct or interfere with the course of justice. Moreover there Has been a very inordinate delay in making the application. It has been filed on 10-9-1952 though the speech complained of was made so far back as on 27th or 23-12-1951 and was published in the newspapers on 7-1-1952. There is absolutely no explanation offered for this long delay in the affidavit filed by the petitioner and is an additional and strong circumstance why this Court need not proceed further in the matter. In -- '50 Mys HCR 129' (A) even one month's delay in making the application was commented upon and was counted against the applicant.
8. In the result we see no reason to proceed further with this application and it is dismissed.
9. Application dismissed.