K.B. Asthana, J.
1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution for a writ of certiorari for quashing of an order dated 30-6-1960 of Sri B. M. Singh, Settlement Officer, Consolidation, by which the petitioner has been found to be guilty of an offence under Section 228 I. P. C. and has, been sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 200 and in default of payment of fine to simple imprisonment for a period of one month.
2. Sri B. M. Singh, Settlement Officer, Consolidation on 30-6-1960 as an appellate authority was busy in hearing the appeals in an open grove in village Banahra, police station Sarpatha, district Jaunpur and when the case of Smt. Sharifan appellant came up for hearing, the petitioner started, to argue the case on her behalf. Thereupon Sri B. M. Singh enquired from the petitioner as to who he was. This lead to some unpleasant remarks. This is the version of the petitioner. The version of Sri B. M. Singh on the other hand as In the happening on 30-6-196.0, is that while the appeal of one Mohd. Sayeed Khan was being argued a person by name Mohd. Rafiq Khan appeared and shouted that the officer was doing all nonsense. The said person was smoking a cigarette and even on being asked by the officer he did not stop smoking and went on further shouting in anger with the result that he interfered with the judicial proceedings.
I am not concerned in this writ petition to weigh and assess which version is correct; the fact remains that the petitioner Mohd. Rafiq Khan was present on the spot where Sri B. M. Singh was hearing appeals on 30-6-1960 and some incident took place. Sri B. M. Singh proceeded against the petitioner for an offence under Section 228 I. P. C. and in purported exercise of powers under Section 480 of Criminal Procedure Code after complying with the necessary formalities, found the petitioner guilty and awarded the punishment already indicated above.
3. The learned counsel for the petitioner contended that Sri B. M. Singh while hearing the appeals under Section 21 of the U. P. Consolidation of Holdings Act (hereinafter called the Act) as Settlement Officer, Consolidation, was neither a Civil Court nor a Revenue Court nor a criminal court and he had no jurisdiction to draw up proceedings for alleged offence under Section 228 I. P. C. and punish the petitioner. It is submitted that the impugned order of Sri B. M. Singh is without authority of law, arbitrary, illegal and improper.
4. It was contended by the learned Junior standing counsel that Sri B. M. Singh was exercising the powers which were invested in him under the Act and since he was carrying on judicial proceedings connected with agricultural tenures and land revenue administration of the State he would be deemed to be a revenue court within the meaning of Section 480 Cr. P. Code.
5. The question that falls for determination in this petition is whether a Settlement Officer, Consolidation, when hearing appeals under Section 21 of the Act, is a court; and if so whether he is a revenue court. Here I may also mention that by an application for amendment of the grounds a substantial question of a far reaching importance was also raised to the effect that the State legislature had no legislative competence to invest any court or authority with the power to punish for contempt, and the material provisions in the Act conferring upon the consolidation Authorities the powers of a civil court to punish for contempt were ultra vires. However, now that the learned junior standing counsel has not taken his stand on the basis of Section 38(1) (c) of the Act, it is no longer necessary to consider the constitutional validity of any part of that section. I may also observe that the learned junior standing counsel rightly did not press into service the provisions of the above sub-section as Sri. B. M. Singh, whose order is impugned purported to exercise, powers under Section 480 of the Criminal Procedure Code and not the power conferred upon him under Section 38 (1) (c) of the Act.
6. A large number of decided cases of our High Court were cited by the learned counsel for the petitioner before me to show that the Settlement Officer, Consolidation, who is one of the authorities constituted under the Act though he has the power to adjudicate upon the rights of the parties, call for evidence and examine witnesses yet would not be a court but at best a public officer or public servant empowered to carry on judicial proceedings. In the case of Ram Bharose v. Deputy Director, 1964 AM WR (HC) 424 a Division Bench of this Court held that the Consolidation authorities namely the Assistant Consolidation Officer, the Consolidation Officer, the Settlement Officer, the Deputy Director and the Director are not courts. Learned junior standing counsel has not been able to point out any compelling reason for doubling this decision.
7. However, assuming for the sake of argument that Sri B. M. Singh as an appellate authority was a court, I still feel some difficulty in holding that he was a revenue court within the meaning of Section 480 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The argument of the learned junior standing counsel on this part of the case was that under Section 40 of the Act the proceedings before the Settlement Officer, Consolidation, are deemed to be judicial proceedings as also by Section 41 of the Act, the provisions of Chapters 9 and 10 of the Land Revenue Act having been made applicable to all the proceeding including appeals under the Act, therefore, Sri B. M. Singh as the Settlement Officer, Consolidation, while hearing the appeals would be nothing but a revenue court. I do not think that the provisions of Sections 40 and 41 of the Act lead to that conclusion; rather it appears to me those two sections emphasise that though the Settlement Officer, Consolidation, and other Officers are being constituted as an authority to carry on certain proceedings under the Act, those proceedings would be deemed to be judicial proceedings for certain purposes including Section 228 I. P. C. and that while carrying on those proceedings they would be bound by the provisions of chapters 9 and 10 of the U. P. Land Revenue Act.
8. This shows that the legislature intended to keep the identity of the revenue courts as constituted under the U. P. Land Revenue Act separate and distinct from the identity of the authorities constituted under the Consolidation Act. There is nothing to indicate that there was any merger of the office of the Settlement Officer, Consolidation, as such, with the regular revenue court which is bound also by all the rules in Chapters 9 and 10 of the Land Revenue Act in carrying on the proceedings before it.
I know of no rule of law which, merely because a certain person or authority is also authorised to exercise like powers as another authority in the proceedings before it and is made subject to the same law and the rules which apply before another authority, brings about a merger of the two persons or authorities and making them one and the same authority. In the case of Sadhan Lal Suraj Prasad v. Deputy Director, Consolidation U. P. Lucknow AIR 1964, All 424 N. U. Beg, J. held that Consolidation Officer, the Assistant Consolidation Officer, and the Deputy Director of Consolidation cannot be described as revenue courts. This decision equally applies to the case of the Settlement Officer. Consolidation.
What courts are revenue courts is laid down by Section 4(8) of the U. P. Land Revenue Act, Learned Junior Standing counsel urged that a Settlement Officer is a revenue court within the meaning of that section. But a Settlement Officer, Consolidation, it is not disputed, is a different authority and is not the same as the Settlement Officer contemplated under the Land Revenue Act. In this connection learned Junior standing counsel referred to an unreported decision of Broome, J. in Criminal Misc. Case No. 164 of I960 dated 23-3-1960 (All) as an authority for the proposition that the Settlement Officer, Consolidation, would be entitled to exercise the powers under Section 480 Cr. P. C. inasmuch as under Section 38 (1) (c) of the Act the Settlement Officer, Consolidation, is invested with all the powers of civil court as regards punishing of persons guilty of contempt.
It is pertinent to observe that Section 228, I. P. C. does not deal with what contempt is. It only makes a particular kind of conduct on the part of a person causing interruption to any public servant sitting in any stage of a judicial proceeding punishable. Section 480 of the Criminal Procedure Code lays down that where any offence as described in Section 228 of the Indian Penal Code is committed in the view of presence of any civil, criminal or revenue court, then the offender can be punished by that court. There is nothing in the body of Section 480 Cr. P. C. that it is for the offence of contempt that the punishment is awarded, though the marginal note to that section does suggest that it is a contempt which is to be punished. It may be that a conduct which answers the description of Section 228 I. P. C. may be punishable as contempt and it will not be open to the ordinary civil court to make a reference under the Contempt of Courts Act for that conduct would amount to a punishable offence but by virtue of Section 38 (1) (c) it could be plausibly argued that the Settlement Officer Consolidation, as civil court, can punish a person guilty of an offence under Section 228 I. P. C. by drawing up proceedings under Section 480 Cr. P. C. but that is not the basis of the argument of the learned junior standing counsel in the instant case. I have already indicated above that to surmount such an argument the learned counsel for the petitioner had indicated by raising a ground which was permitted to be raised that the provisions of Section 38(1)(c) of the Act were unconstitutional in so far as they purported to confer a power on the Consolidation Authorities to punish for contempt. Since reliance was placed by the learned junior standing counsel on the contention that the Settlement Officer, Consolidation, was a revenue court within the meaning of Section 480 Cr. P. C. and not on the contention that the Settlement Officer, Consolidation was a civil court, I do not think any assistance can be derived by the learned junior standing counsel from the decision of Broome, J. in the above mentioned case. I am not called upon in this ease to decide the question whether Sri. B. M. Singh as a civil court could exercise powers under Section 480 Cr. P. C.
9. Moreover in the case of 1964 All WR (HC) 424 (supra) this Court even after noticing the provisions of Section 38(1)(c) of the Act held that the consolidation authorities which would include Settlement Officer, Consolidation were not courts. In the case of Kuldeep Singh v. Settlement Officer Consolidation, 1964 AIR WR (HC) 89 Dwivedi, J. held that the Consolidation Officer, assuming he is a court is not a civil court. The decision of Desai J, as he then was, in the case of Vishun Kant v. Vijai Bahadur Singh, 1960 RD 75 also militates against the view that the consolidation authorities can draw up contempt proceedings as civil courts. There thus appears a preponderance of authority in favour of the proposition that the consolidation authorities are not civil courts. It is difficult to read the provisions of Section 38(1)(c) in a manner that they would convert the consolidation authorities by raising them from the status of public servants sitting at a judicial proceeding to the category of civil court. However, I should not be taken to be expressing any final opinion on this question as I have already indicated above it does not fall for decision on the arguments raised in the instant case.
10. Agreeing with the view of N. U. Beg, J. in the case of 1964 All WR (HC) 593: (AIR 1964 All 424) (supra) I hold that Sri B. M. Singh while hearing appeals under Section 21 of the Act as Settlement Officer, Consolidation, on 30-6-1960 was not a revenue court and, therefore, he had no power under Section 480 of the Criminal Procedure Code to draw up proceedings against the petitioner and punish him for an offence described in Section 228 I. P. C. 11. The result is that this petition succeeds.The impugned order of Sri B. M. Singh dated80-6-1960 punishing the petitioner for contemptis quashed. The rest of the prayers made in thepetition are rejected. There would be no orderfor costs.