1. It is unfortunate though this petition was presented in thisCourt as early as 1-5-1973 notice against the respondent No. 4 could not be issued till 9-8-1974. The alleged incident of contempt is said to have taken place on 23-4-1973. For some reasons which need not be mentioned here the notice could not be issued against the respondent by this Court till 9-8-1974. Dr. R. Dwivedi on behalf of the respondent raised an objection that the proceedings against the respondent are without jurisdiction inasmuch as this Court had no jurisdiction or power to initiate proceedings against the respondent after the expiry of one year from the date on which the contempt is alleged to have been committed. Reference was made to Section 20 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. Dr. Dwivedi brought to our notice a decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Baradakanta Mishra v. Mr. Justice Gatikrushna Misra, C. J. of the Orissa High Court AIR 1974 SC 2255. In this case the Supreme Court on the language of Section 20 declared as follows ;--
'It is only when the Court decides to take action and initiates a proceeding for contempt that it assumes jurisdiction to punish for contempt. The exercise of the jurisdiction to punish for contempt commences with the initiation of a proceeding for contempt, whether suo motu or on a motion or a reference. That is why the terminus a quo for the period of limitation provided in Section 20 is the date when a proceeding for contempt is initiated by the Court. Where the Court rejects a motion or a reference and declines to initiate a proceeding for contempt, it refuses to assume or exercise jurisdiction to punish for contempt and such a decision cannot be regarded as a decision in the exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt.'
2. Earlier the learned Judges of the Supreme Court in the same case observed :--
'The petition or reference is only for the purpose of drawing the attention of the Court to the contempt alleged to have been committed and it is for the Court, on a consideration of such motion or reference, to decide, in exercise of its discretion, whether or not to initiate a proceeding for contempt. The Court may decline to take cognizance and to initiate a proceeding for contempt either because in its opinion no contempt prima-facie appears to have been committed or because, even if there is prima-facie contempt, it is not a fit case in which action should be taken against the alleged con-temner.'
3. It is clear from what has been extracted above from the judgment of the Supreme Court that when a petition supported by an affidavit is filed alleging acts of contempt to have been committed by the respondent and is considered by the Court to find out whether the contemner be called upon to show cause, the mere filing of the petition and the consideration by the Court would not amount to initiation of proceedings. It is only when the Court decides to proceedagainst the contemner on a prima facie case having been made out that it initiates the proceedings by issuing notice and process. In the instant case, the learned Chief Justice, as required by Rule 19 of Chapter XVIII of the Rules of the Court, passed an order on 9-5-1973 -- 'List before the Bench concerned.' The order sheet shows that on 16-5-1973 the petition was listed before Sinba, J. but that day it was passed over. Then on the next day, i.e., 17-5-1973, Sinha J. seems to have ordered the papers to ' be laid before the Chief Justice for nominating a Division Bench as in his opinion a case of criminal contempt was made out against some of the opposite parties. The learned Chief Justice passed an order for listing the case before the Habeas Corpus Bench. Successively during the months of May and July the case was listed before Division Benches but for one reason or the other was passed over. On 17-7-1973 a Division Bench of this Court ordered-- 'list after the decision of writ petition No. 1015 of 1973.'
4. Then on 25-6-1974 the office reported that the said writ petition No. 1015 of 1973 had been decided on 23-7-1973 and a special appeal against the judgment of the learned Single Judge was also, dismissed on 5-9-1973. This petition was then listed before a Division Bench on 11-7-1974 but no orders were passed till 19-8-1974. When the matter was listed the learned counsel for the petitioner seems to have struck off the names of the opposite parties 1, 2 and 3 from the array of the respondents and this Court issued notice against the remaining respondent No. 4 the Principal of the College, who is alleged to have in defiance of the direction of the Court not only refused to admit two of the students to take examination but also expressed words derogatory to the dignity of the High Court.
5. From what has been narrated above it is clear that this Court on 17-7-1973 did not like to initiate proceedings and directed that the matter will wait till the decision of Writ Petition No. 1015 of 1973. May be either the learned counsel for the petitioner or the Bench Secretary on that date did not draw the attention of the Court that the time was running out and further waiting for the decision of writ petition No. 1015 of 1973 may take the case beyond the period of one year from the date of the commission of the act of contempt.
6. It was contended by Sri G.C.Bhattacharya for the petitioner that petitioner ought not be allowed to suffer for the mistake of the Court as he had brought to the notice of the Court the alleged acts of contempt within a period of one month and it was the duty of the Court to initiate proceedings. This submission on behalf of the petitioner appears to us to be futile. The petitioner has no right to have the respondent punished for contempt. His only duty was to bring to the notice of the Court the facts of the alleged contempt and then it was entirely a matter, between this Court and the respondent. The petitioner not having any right as such and none of his rights having been prejudiced if the respondent is not punished for contempt, he cannot be heard to say that he should not be allowed to suffer for the mistake of the Court.
7. It was then contended by Sri Bhattacharya that Sinha, J. on 17-5-1973 would be deemed to have initiated proceedings for contempt as he applied his mind and found that prima facie case of contempt was made out of a criminal nature against some of the respondents and of a civil nature against others and then directed that the matter be laid before the Chief Justice for nominating a Division Bench. That may be so. There is no doubt that Sinha, J. did apply his mind but that would not amount to initiation of proceedings of contempt as he himself directed that the papers be laid before the Chief Justice for nominating a Division Bench to consider the matter for he doubted that he had power to initiate the proceedings. Therefore, there was no question of initiation of proceedings on 17-5-1973 by Sinha, J. Likewise, the argument that on 17-7-1973 the Division Bench would be deemed to have initiated the proceedings is fallacious because that Division bench itself directed the listing of the matter after the decision of the writ petition No. 1015 of 1973. That goes to show that the mind of the Division Bench was not made up or prepared to initiate any proceedings till the decision of the writ petition No. 1015 of 1973. It was only on 9-8-1974 that the proceedings were initiated by issuing notice to the respondent. That was after more than one year of the date of the alleged contempt.
8. Sri Bhattacharya, learned counsel for the petitioner, contended that the period during which the writ petition No. 1015 of 1973 was pending should not be counted in computing the period of one year under Section 20 of the Contempt of Courts Act. This is a hollow argument without any thoughtful content in it. There is no provision under the Contempt of Courts Act which in any manner stops the running of time of one year, contemplated by Section 20 of the Act. Sri Bhattacharya then made a more hollow argument to the effect that the Indian Limitation Act applies. We fail to understand what benefit can Sri Bhattacharya derive from the provisions of the Indian Limitation Act when the time, within which the proceedings for contempt are to be initiated, is prescribed by the Contempt of Courts Act and not by the Limitation Act.
9. Sri Bhattacharya then lastly made an argument that since the Division Bench on 17-7-1973 had directed that the case be listed after the decision of writ petition No. 1015 of 1973 that direction itself would operate for extending the time. We fail to understand the logic behind this argumentWhen the running of time under Section 20 of the Act cannot be stopped as there is no provision to that effect under the law, merely by the order of the Division Bench the running of time will not stop.
10. For the reasons given above, we find that the notice issued to the respondent being more than after a year of the alleged act of contempt, the proceedings being without jurisdiction are liable to be quashed.
11. The notice is discharged. No order for costs.