A.N. Mulla, J.
1. This is an application under Sections 2 and 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act made by Diwan Durga Das in connection with a writ petition (No. 143 of 1957) filed by him against Sri Brij Raj Kishore, a police officer, and two others whose names are not disclosed in the petition. This application also purports to be against three persons but their names are not given at the top of the application. The name of one, Mohammad Ilyas, a head constable is however mentioned in paragraphs 6 and 7 of this application as well as the prayer at the end and so it can be inferred that one of these three persons is Mohammad llyas.
The petition further discloses that some information was given by an employee of the office of the Rent Control and Eviction Officer whose name was to be ascertained and so it may be presumed that one of the opposite parties was that employee who provided that information. The third person is described in the prayer as opposite party No. 2 whose assistant provided wrong information and this presumably means the Rent Control and Eviction Officer.
2. The facts of the case are that Sri Durga Das had purchased a house situate at Way Road, Lucknow. This house was tenanted by some police officer who was transferred. Sri Durga Das prayed that as the house was about to fall vacant this should be allotted to him as he had no house and he was staying as a guest of a relation. This prayer was made by him to the Rent Control and Eviction Officer. His prayer was not accepted and the house was allotted to Sri Brij Raj Kishore. Sri Durga Das felt that his prayer was not considered in a judicial manner by the Rent Control And Eviction Officer and an arbitrary order was passed and so he moved the writ petition mentioned above.
Along with this writ petition he also prayed that Sri Brij Raj Kishore should not be permitted to occupy this house by placing his furniture and goods. This application came before a single Judge on 15-7-1957 at about 11 a. m. and the Junior Standing Counsel for the State, appearing on behalf of the Rent Control and Eviction Officer, Lucknow, staled that he had received instructions to the effect that the house had already been occupied by the allottee and his luggage was in the house.
Sri Durga Das felt doubtful about the correctness of this statement and so he went to the house immediately and at about 2 p. m., on the same day, be filed another affidavit to the effect that up to 1 p. m., the house was not occupied by Sri Brij Raj Kishore and there was no luggage belonging to Sri Rrij Raj Kishore in that house. He further prayed that a commissioner should immediately be appointed to verify the facts mentioned by him in his affidavit.
The Court was pleased to appoint a commissioner and Sri Mohammad Haider, the commissioner, proceeded to the house. We will quote the exact words of the learned judge issuing directions to the commissioner:
'Let a commission issue and let Sri S. M. Haider be appointed commissioner. He will go to the house in dispute and report if the house contains any luggage. The commissioner may break open the lock and should make an inventory of the goods to be found in the house. He may then seal the lock pending further order's .....
The applicant shall pay for a new lock and the key of that lock should be submitted to this Court along with the report. The report to be filed by tomorrow.'
3. Sri Mohammad Haider accompanied by Sri Dugra Das came to the house and found it open. He found some furniture of Sri Brij Raj Kishore present in the house and he made an inventory of that furniture. He found two constables Puran Singh and Mohammad llyas inside the house. The commissioner recorded the statements of these two constables and asked them to put their signatures or thumb impressions on these statements. Puran Singh constable did so, but Mohammad Ilyas refused to put his signatures on the statement which was recorded. The commissioner after taking down the statements and preparing the inventory submitted the report before the learned Judge.
4. We have stated these facts from the affidavit of Sri Durga Das dated 16-7-1957. It was further mentioned in this affidavit that the goods of Sri Brij Raj Kishore came at about 2 p. m,, and they were not there at 11 a. m., when the Junior Standing Counsel made the statement that the luggage of Sri Brij Raj Kishore was in the house. The petitioner Sri Durga Das therefore claimed that the court was misinformed about the presence of this luggage in the house and this resulted in a miscarriage of justice.
Sri Durga Das had prayed for an interim injunction to be issued against Sri Brij Raj Kishore when he had filed the writ petition and the Court, because of the mis-statement made before it, did not grant his prayer. It thus facilitated Sri Brij Raj Kishore to place his belongings in the house as no order of the Court stood in his way. This was according to Sri Durga Das, contempt of Court by the Rent Control and Eviction Officer as well as by the employee of the Office of the Rent Control and Eviction Officer who deliberately misinformed the Junior Standing Counsel in order to secure this wrongful gain. As Sri Mohammad llyas refused to sign his statement it was further urged that this amounted to obstruction of the course of justice and he also committed a contempt of court.
5. We find that after this application for contempt of Court was filed, a notice was issued to Sri T. E. David, who was the employee concerned and who gave the information to the Junior Standing Counsel. On the last hearing Sri David and Mohammad llyas head constable were present before this Court. The Rent Control and Eviction Officer was also present on the last hearing and is present today. Mr. David is also present today.
6. The first question to be determined in this application is whether, even if the entire facts given by Sri Durga Das are accepted they amount to contempt of Court. There are two heads in this charge.. The first head consists of the incorrect information supplied by Sri David to the Junior Standing Counsel and the other head is the refusal by Mohammad llyas, head constable, to sign the statement pre-pared by the Commissioner. We have considered this matter and we have come to the conclusion that neither of these two acts amounts to contempt of Court. We will take the first head.
7. The question is whether wrong information supplied by a party to his Counsel even it it is with a view to secure wrongful gain can per se be declared to be contempt of Court. If this question is answered in the affirmative then in every case, whether in the criminal Courts or in the civil Courts, one of the parties is almost constantly committing contempt of Court. Such a definition of 'contempt of Court' cannot be accepted.
It was urged that a very laudable and long standing convention has been established which is to the effect that a statement made by a counsel from the Bar is accepted by Courts. The convention is certainly laudable, as it produces smooth working and it establishes healthy relations between the Court! and the members of the Bar, but a convention at best is not law and when it is found that statements made by a counsel are unreliable, it is open to the Court not to accept them and to ask for affidavits in support of the statements made by the Counsel.
If any harm was caused to the petitioner in this case, it was due to the fact that the learned Judge accepted the statement made by the Junior Standing Counsel at its face value. It is coming to our knowledge in several cases that many public servants are no longer filing their affidavits with that care and responsibility which is expected of public servants. There is a premium in favour of an affidavit sworn by a public servant because the Courts start with the presumption that the public servants want that law should be maintained and they are not interested in seeking an unfair advantage.
But recent experience tells us that many public servants are not so disinterested and they file affidavits relating to facts which are questionable. They do not take enough trouble to find out the facts before filing their affidavits. It may be that as a result the Courts may have to doubt the correctness of these affidavits and want stricter proof of the facts mentioned in these affidavits. It is also open to the Courts not to treat these affidavits as sufficient rebuttal of the facts mentioned by the opposite party when supported by an affidavit.
It may be found necessary to examine these persons who swear affidavits as witnesses in Court and subject them to cross-examination. While the law provides a remedy against the swearing of false affidavits and fabricating of false evidence there is no provision made against any incorrect information given by a party to his counsel. This means that the law does not contemplate the acceptance of such statements as evidence and if for the sake of convenience or some other reasons the Courts accepts such statements they are permitting a convention to take the place of the rules of evidence.
A person cannot be prosecuted for committing contempt of Court if he is instrumental in the breach of a convention which is against the law for such a convention creates no legal obligation and cannot bind parties. A party can always disown such oral statements made by the counsel on his behalf. Courts should not act upon statements made in this manner, but if they do they cannot prosecute those who give this information to their counsel who in turn place it before the Court.
It might have been different if an affidavit had been sworn by Mr. David in this case. Then perhaps the question would have arisen whether proceedings under Section 199 of the Indian Penal Code should be started against him or not, but an information givenby a party to his counsel which is not a statement on oath and which does not amount to fabrications of evidence within the meaning of Section 192, I. P. Code cannot be made the basis for a penal prosecution.
What happened in this case may be a reason to reconsider whether the convention mentioned above should be followed or not in writ petitions. Our recent experience tells us that it would be safer not to adhere to this convention, and for every fact which is likely to affect the decision of the Court an affidavit should be called. In our opinion proceedings under contempt of Court cannot be initiated on the basis of such a statement even if it is found to be incorrect.
8. But in this case we find that the bona fides of Mr, David cannot be challenged. He might have made a careless statement, but there is nothing on the record to substantiate that he deliberately gave any false information to the Junior Standing Counsel. The house was allotted to Sri Brij Raj Kishore and even from the observations of the Commissioner it is apparent that when he reached the house he found the luggage of Mr. Brij Raj Kishore there. The only important question is the point of time at which this luggage came.
Sri Durga Das has not mentioned any fact in hist affidavit as to how he came to know that no luggage of Sri Brij Raj Kishore was in the house at the time when he inspected the house after the statement was made by the Junior Standing Counsel. He does not tell us even this fact whether the house was open or closed, and whether he possessed any key of the house with him or not. Admittedly there were two police constables in the house when the Commissioner reached there. Therefore at least one of the keys of the house was with these constables.
It cannot be determined at what pcint of time the luggage of Sri Brij Raj Kishore came to the house. Even if it is accepted that part of the luggage came at about 2 p.m. there is nothing to indicate that some luggage was not present since the morning or even before. If the house was locked, we cannot accept that Sri Durga Das managed to have a view of every room of the house. It is quite possible that up to that time some luggage of Sri Brij Raj Kishore might have been kept locked in one of the rooms of the house.
The amount of luggage found by the Commissioner also indicates that almost the entire household goods were present and it is difficult to accept that all of them came in one truck which reached the house after 2 p.m. On the last hearing a prayer was made by the Counsel for Sri Durga Das that an opportunity should be given to him to file a second affidavit in which all these detailed facts will be disclosed and we granted his prayer.
No supplementary affidavit has been filed by Sri Durga Das today and he is not even present. It can safely be inferred that Sri Durga Das is not willing to make any further allegations. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the affidavit of Sri Durga Das as it stands does not go to the length of destroying the claim made by the Junior Standing Counsel at 11 a.m. on 15-7-1957, that the luggage of Sri Brij Raj Kishore was already present in the house.
9. As far as the second head is concerned, we think that the inclusion of Mohammad Ilyas in this application was entirely misconceived. We have quoted in full the directions given by the learned Judge when he appointed the Commissioner. The Commissioner exceeded the rights given to him when he started taking down statements. Even if these constables had refused to give a statement they would have been justified and the Commissioner had no right to question them about anything.
His duty was simply to prepare an inventory and if the house was locked to break open the lock and place a new lock and deposit the key with the Deputy Registrar of the Court. The Commissioner showed unnecessary zeal when he started taking down the statements and he ceased to be a representative of the Court, and became actually a partisan witness. The refusal of Mohammad Ilyas to sign the statement therefore cannot possibly be construed as an act of contempt of Court.
10. For the reasons given above we dismiss the application and the notices issued in the case are discharged.