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The State Vs. Vikar Ahmed and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Reported in1954CriLJ1281
AppellantThe State
RespondentVikar Ahmed and anr.
Excerpt: can people be restrained from saying that misra's regime has failed. justice shripatrau as the chief justice though for a few days, it is a good step. murtuza khan has argued that the main object of this article is to criticise the notifications by this court insisting on the use of english in proceedings in the lower courts as well as in this court, which are merely administrative orders and the article does not amount to any contempt. the article conveniently omits to mention that since the integration of this state all the enacted central laws, notifications and the pronouncements of the supreme court are in english, it also fails to take into consideration that the decisions of this court as well as the state acts together with such notifications and rules as this high court is.....order1. an article entitled 'appointment of shri shripatrau as the chief justice' was publish-ed on 22-9-1953, in the newspaper called the nizam gazette. notices were issued to syed vikar ahmed and mohd. abdur rahman, the editor and the joint-editor of the paper, to show cause why proceedings under the contempt of courts act of 1952 should not be taken against them, as the article prima facie amounted to a contempt of the chief justice and other judges of the high court in the discharge of their duties. by their replies of 1-11-1953, both the editor and the joint-editor pleaded that they did not intend to commit any contempt, their newspaper fully realised the high position of the court, and notwithstanding the aforesaid pleas if the court came to the conclusion that any sentence of the.....

1. An article entitled 'Appointment of Shri Shripatrau as the Chief Justice' was publish-ed on 22-9-1953, in the newspaper called the Nizam Gazette. Notices were issued to Syed Vikar Ahmed and Mohd. Abdur Rahman, the Editor and the Joint-Editor of the paper, to show cause why proceedings under the Contempt of Courts Act of 1952 should not be taken against them, as the article prima facie amounted to a contempt of the Chief Justice and other Judges of the High Court in the discharge of their duties. By their replies of 1-11-1953, both the Editor and the Joint-Editor pleaded that they did not intend to commit any contempt, their newspaper fully realised the high position of the Court, and notwithstanding the aforesaid pleas if the Court came to the conclusion that any sentence of the article amounted to contempt, they apologise and hope the apologies would be accepted and the proceedings concluded.

Mr. Murtuza Khan, who appeared on behalf of the editors has, however, argued that the article was only a fair comment on the administrative orders of the High Court, it did not amount to scandalising the Court, and being a border-line case, the qualified apologies contained in the replies of 10-11-1953, should be accepted and his clients discharged. On the conclusion of the arguments, another application dated 25-1-1954, was filed, that the editors regretted and tendered their unqualified apologies for having printed and published the article. We have, therefore, to decide in the proceedings two points : the first is how far the particular article amounts to contempt, and the other is whether by the several apologies the two persons have purged themselves; of the contempt and should be let off with mere warning.

2. The third paragraph of the article says that after a full consideration the Constitution has provided for the maintenance of the conditions prevailing at the time of the Englishmen were rulers, and for continuance of the work in the language in which it was previously being carried on; accordingly Urdu, the official language of Hyderabad State, can be substituted by Hindi and it can easily be introduced within fifteen years; the object of providing the time limit is to facilitate Government servants learning the Hindi language : that contrary to the above provision continuous efforts are being made in the Hyderabad State to introduce English in place of Urdu; it is surprising that all these things are being done in the High Court by overlooking the law which on principle should not have been done; since one or two months it is being said that the present Chief Justice wants to go back from Hyderabad after uprooting everything and due to these rumours the employees of the judiciary are feeling gloomy.

The next paragraph, which is a short one, mentions that unless the picture is complete the writer does not wish to express any opinion; but in the democratic age how can people be restrained from saying that Misra's regime has failed. The concluding part of the next paragraph in the article expresses regret that in face of the regulations and laws certain officials under communal feel-ings are making use of hostility to Urdu, and it is still more regrettable to hold the Constitution as secular & yet give effect to communalism. This part of the paragraph then asks the Central Government to pay attention to the affairs in Hyderabad as to Whether by such unconstitutional acts the rights of the citizens can be preserved or whether justice can be done to the minorities by depriving them of their livelihood under any pretext?

3. We shall now give an English translation of the next two paragraphs of the article:

When justice is not found where justice is usually done, where can it be obtained? We have received several complaints about legal irregularities and some of them have also been published in the newspapers. If as a reaction (Rodd-e-Amal) the President of India has appointed Mr. Justice Shripatrau as the Chief Justice though for a few days, it is a good step. For the ministry of the State has stated in its Notification that the President has been pleased to appoint Mr. Justice Shripat Rao of the Hyderabad High Court as the Chief Justice to perform the duties of the Chief Justice during the period of leave of the Chief Justice L. S. Misra from 5-10-1953 to 4-11-1953.

After the above Notification, the doubts and fears in the minds of the Court's employees should be removed and it is expected of Mr. Justice Shripatrau that he will perform his duties in such a manner as will remove fear from the minds of the members of the bar.

4. Mr. Murtuza Khan has argued that the main object of this article is to criticise the Notifications by this Court insisting on the use of English in proceedings in the lower Courts as well as in this Court, which are merely administrative orders and the article does not amount to any contempt. In support of his argument he has relied on the case of - 'Devi Prasad v. Emperor' AIR 1943 PC 202 (A), where the appellants before the Privy Council, who were the printer, publisher and editor of the Hindustan Times, had published adverse comments in the news items under the headlines 'Judicial officers for war work. Raising subscriptions, New Chief Justice's Circular' against the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court. The Privy Council in allowing the appeal observed at p. 204;

When the comment in question in the present case is. examined, it is found that there is no criticism of any judicial act of the Chief Justice, or any imputation on him for anything done or omitted to be done by him in the administration of justice. It can hardly be said that there is any criticism of him in his administrative capacity, for as far as their Lordships have been informed the administrative control of the subordinate Courts of the province, whatever it is, is exercised not by the Chief Justice, taut by the Court over which he presides....

In these circumstances, it was laid down that causes of contempt which consist of scandalising the Court itself are rare and require to be treated with much discretion, and the proceedings of this species of contempt should be instituted sparingly and always with reference to the administration of justice.

We have also the case of - 'Brahma Prakash V. State Of U. P.' : 1954CriLJ238 laying down that there are two primary considerations which should weigh with the Court when it is called upon to exercise the summary powers in cases of contempt committed by 'scandalising' the Court itself. In the first place the reflection on the conduct or character of a Judge in reference to the discharge of his judicial duties would not be contempt if such reflection is made in the exercise of the right of fair and reasonable criticism which every citizen possesses in respect of public acts done in the seat of justice, and in the second place when attacks or comments are made on a judge or Judges disparaging in character and derogatory to their dignity, care should be taken to distinguish between what is a libel on the Judge and what amounts to really a contempt of Court.

5. We take the aforesaid authorities as not laying down the proposition that editorial comments by newspapers relating to the judicial acts of the High Court, which exceed the bounds of fair criticism, are conceived by irresponsible appreciation] of the action, dictated or calculated to lower the sense of confidence in the administration of justice by attributing sectional prejudices to the Judges, and holding them out as issuing directions in matters of Judicial proceeding on considerations other than judicial, and attributing to the Court entrusted with enforcing fundamental rights unconstitutional practice and discrimination, do not amount to contempt. Nor do we think that the aforesaid authorities over-rule the series of authorities of the High Courts in this country, wherein scandalising the High Court has been held to constitute contempt of Court.

6. In 're Motilal Ghose' AIR 1918 Cal 988 (SB) (O, it was held that the publication in the newspaper alleging that the Chief Justice had constituted a packed Bench having a tendency to prejudice the parties and interfere with the administration of justice, amounted to contempt of Court. Again in - 'Emperor v. Mar Maduke Picktholl' AIR 1923 Bom 8 (D), it was laid down that the article which would leave on the mind of the ordinary reader the Impression about injustice having been done deliberately on political grounds to some of the accused who were innocent, constituted a contempt of Court and the Court has to consider the natural and probable effect of the article. Then in - 'Emperor v. Murli Manohar Pershad' AIR 1929 Pat 72 (FB) (E), the editor of Search Light was convicted and ordered to pay a fine of Rs, 500, and it was held there that the Article in the newspaper which contained only declamation and invective with a view to injure the character of individual Judges and to bring them into hatred amounts to contempt. In the matter of an Advocate of Allahabad the following pass-age appearing in the Leader was also held as contempt;

In this connection it is amusing to note that when a comparatively undeserving lawyer is raised to the Bench which is fairly a frequent occurrence it is generally claimed.

Then -- 'In re Tusharkanti Ghosh' AIR 1935 Cal 419 (FB) (F), the description of Judges as hobnobbing with the executive was held not to constitute fair comment and to amount to a contempt. By - 'In re K. L. Gauba' AIR 1942 Lah 105 (FB) (G), it was laid down that a book which contained most scandalous allegations of improper and even corrupt motives against Judges of the High Court deliberately was a contempt as it interfered with the administration , of justice. So also is the case reported in - 'M. G. Kadir v. Kesri Narain' AIR 1945 All 67 (H).

7. We have cited the aforesaid authorities to show that unfortunately scandalising the Court is not as obsolete as some authorities have thought. In the long series of cases persons have been held liable in contempt for writing and publishing articles unjustifiably attacking the Chief Justice and the Judges of the High Court. We have, therefore, to scrutinise carefully the article to find out whether it is of such a nature as would exceed the limits of fair inference, legitimate comment and criticism or has been conceived in haste with irresponsible appreciation of the action of the High Court with a tendency to affect the dignity and prestige of the High Court, thereby constituting a contempt.

The article conveniently omits to mention that since the integration of this State all the enacted Central laws, Notifications and the pronouncements of the Supreme Court are in English, It also fails to take into consideration that the decisions of this Court as well as the State Acts together with such Notifications and Rules as this High Court is authorised to frame, are in English, It further overlooks that these changes necessitate study and thorough knowledge of English in order that lawyers, members of the lower judiciary and lower staff may properly discharge their functions. It does not advert to the fact that in cases where appeals Me to the Supreme Court, the translation of records often casts heavy financial strain on the litigant, which in criminal cases cannot be borne by them. It seeks to attribute communal motive to the Notifications and alleges it to have been made with the object of adversely affecting a particular section.

Indeed, the article alleges the Notifications to have been issued in disregard of the constitutional guarantees of secularism, and to be doing injustice by those who administer justice. It interprets a measure calculated to lessen burden of translation, bring out efficiency and necessitated by change in the language of the law as having been issued in a most irresponsible manner. One fails to understand how these Notifications can be regarded as administrative when the objects are to make use of a particular language necessary in judicial proceedings.

8. Then if the article was purely a criticism why there was exhortation in it to vakils to do their work without being disheartened, agitated or disturbed? Where was the necessity of referring to complaints received by the paper relating to irregularities against law or allegations against Hon'ble the Chief Justice that he wants to leave Hyderabad after uprooting everything? In our view, the main object of the article is to scandalise the Chief Justice and the Judges of this Court with whose consultation, approval and full support, certain notifications were issued and clearly suggests that justice cannot be had where justice is being administered, thereby shaking the confidence in the public mind about the administration of justice, creating an impression that the Judges in the highest Court in the State act on extraneous considerations. We may point out that use of the English language for writing judgments and for recording evidence has been permitted under the Hyderabad (Language of Judgments and Orders) Act (29 of 1950), by Notification of the Government, No. Jud/Ad/99/51 of 5-4-1951 issued under Section 138(1) Civil P. C. It will be observed that the Act and Notifications were passed and issued long before the present Hon'ble Chief Justice was appointed in 1952. The newspaper has in sheer recklessness of these facts commented in the manner we have pointed out, and we are, therefore, of opinion that this article amounts to a contempt of this Court.

9. We may observe that the freedom of press under our Constitution is not higher than that of citizen, and that there is no privilege attaching to the profession of the press as distinguished from the members of the public. To whatever height the subject in general may go, so also may the journalist, and if an ordinary citizen may not transgress the law so must not the press. That the exercise of expression is subject to the reasonable restriction of the law of contempt, is borne out by Clause (2) of Article 19 of the Constitution. It should be well to remember that the Judges by reasons of their office are precluded from entering into any controversy in the columns of the public press, nor can enter the arena and do battle upon equal terms in newspapers, as can be done by ordinary citizens.

10. Now we come to the question of punishment. It was argued that this article being a border-line case, the apologies of the contemners should be accepted and they should be discharged. It appears to us that the apologies submitted are not out-pouring of penitent hearts moved by feeling of remorse by a sense of one's own guilt, but are taken as a convenient device to provide the only mode of escape, and as such they should be considered merely as apologies. Had the contemners submitted an unqualified apology at the earliest stage without adopting the attitude that if the Court thinks that a contempt has been committed they apologise for it or apologise in the manner the Court requires, we would have discharged them. But under the present circumstances, after having justified the article, we think that some punishment should be meted out.

We, therefore, fine each of the contemner to pay a fine of Rs. 50/- and costs of Rs. 100/- to the State by tomorrow 2 p. m. failing which each of them, viz., Vikar Ahmed and Syed Abdur Rahman, will suffer imprisonment of fifteen days or until the payment of the said sum.

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