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Ram Saran Tewari Vs. Raj Bahadur Varma and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContempt of Court
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberMisc. Contempt Case No. 58 of 1960
Judge
Reported inAIR1962All315
ActsContempt of Courts Act, 1952 - Sections 3; Uttar Pradesh Panchayat Raj Act, 1947
AppellantRam Saran Tewari
RespondentRaj Bahadur Varma and ors.
Appellant AdvocateM.H. Beg, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateD.P. Agrawal and ;V.K.S. Chaudhary and ;N.D. Ojha, Advs.
Excerpt:
(i) contempt of court - nyaya panchayat - section (3) of contempt of courts act, 1952 - a court subordinate to high court - supervisory jurisdiction. (ii) nyaya panchayat - u.p. panchayat raj act - undermining the dignity and prestige of nyaya panchayat - held, to be contempt of courts. - - this means that a second or third class magistrate is subordinate to the sub-divisional magistrate as well as to the district magistrate and supports the view that subordination does not depend upon being under appellate jurisdiction. article 311(1) speaks of 'an authority subordinate to that by which he was appointed' with reference to a member of the civil service the words 'subordinate to' clearly mean 'subservient to'.there can be no question of an appeal from the civil servant's decision to.....desai, c.j.1. i would answer the question in the negative; i regret i cannot agree with the view expressed by my learned brothers to the effect that nyaya panchayats are as courts subordinate to this court within the meaning of section 3 of the contempt of courts act. they may be 'courts' but i am not persuaded to hold them to be subordinate to this court. in the case of sukhdeo baiswar v. brij bhusan, : air1951all667 referred to by them. i did hold that they are subordinate to this court but i revised the view in state of uttar pradesh v. ram ratan shukla : air1956all258 and bishun kant v. vijai bahadur singh, cr. misc. contempt case no. 6 of 1959, d/- 25-11-1959 (all).2. neither (the contempt of courts act nor the constitution, ,nor any other enactment explains which courts are.....
Judgment:

Desai, C.J.

1. I would answer the question in the negative; I regret I cannot agree with the view expressed by my learned brothers to the effect that Nyaya Panchayats are as courts subordinate to this Court within the meaning of Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act. They may be 'courts' but I am not persuaded to hold them to be subordinate to this Court. in the case of Sukhdeo Baiswar v. Brij Bhusan, : AIR1951All667 referred to by them. I did hold that they are subordinate to this Court but I revised the view in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Ram Ratan Shukla : AIR1956All258 and Bishun Kant v. Vijai Bahadur Singh, Cr. Misc. Contempt Case No. 6 of 1959, D/- 25-11-1959 (All).

2. Neither (the Contempt of Courts Act nor the Constitution, ,nor any other enactment explains which Courts are subordinate to this Court. The Government of India Act and the Constitution have used different phrases to describe how other Courts stand in relation to the High Court of the territory they being 'inferior courts', 'subordinate courts' and 'courts over which a High Court has powers of superintendence', 'court to which an appeal (ordinarily) lies'', and there is nothing to indicate that they all mean the same thing. The framers of the Constitution could not have used different words to mean the same thing, and I cannot agree with my brother Dwivedi that 'inferior courts', 'subordinate courts' and 'courts subject to the superintending jurisdiction of a High Court' mean the fame thing. The words mean different things and are used in different context's in the various Articles of the Constitution. 'Interior' means lower in rank or quality, while 'subordinate'' has two moaning (1) 'inferior' and (2) ''subservient'. There is difference between these two meanings as would be evident if one realizes that one can be inferior to another without being subservient to him. It is in the sense of 'subservience' that the word is used in the Constitution, otherwise it would not have used the word 'interior' at one place and 'subordinate'', at another. In the Contempt : of Courts Act, the words used are 'court subordinate to' and not '.subordinate eourt1'. While 'subordinate court' may mean an inferior court even though it is not subservient to the High Court, 'court subordinate to it' must mean a court subservient to it and not merely an inferior court.

3. All courts are independent and no court can claim jurisdiction or authority of any kind over ano her without statutory authority. No court can claim appellate or revisional jurisdiction without statutory authority. Similarly no court can claim that another is subservient to it without statutory authority. Subordination in the sense of inferiority does not require any statutory authority as it is left to he judged on a comparison of powers and jurisdictions of the respective courts. No law declares a court to be inferior to another; on the other hand there are provisions to be found in the principal codes of Procedure and other statutes declaring a court to be subordinate to another either generally or for particular purposes. The question of subordination in the seme of subservience arises when one court claims to exercise some authority over another and then one has to look for statutory authority in support of its claim.

4. In the Code of Criminal Procedure Section 10 (3) lays down that for certain purposes an Additional District Magistrate is to be deemed to be subordinate to the District Magistrate. The heading of Section 12 is 'Subordinate Magistrates'; its contents show that it deals with all the first, second and third class Magistrates, who are inferior to District Magistrates and, therefore, are termed as subordinate Magistrates. It is Section 17 which makes them ''subordinate to' the District Magistrate; the use of the words 'subordinate magistrates' in Section 12 and the provision in Section 17 making them subordinate to the District Magistrate support the view that subordination in the sense of inferiority is one thing and subordination in the sense of subservience, another, that 'subordinate to'' means 'subservient to' and that subservience is derived from statutory authority.

Appeals do not ordinarily lie from a Magistrate to the District Magistrate and yet the Magistrates are declared to be subordinate to the Dist. Magistrate, thus supporting the view that subordination in the sense of subservience is distinct from being under the appellate jurisdiction. Section 17 further provides that every Magistrate other than a Sub-divisional Magistrate is also subordinate to the sub-divisional Magistrate; this means that a second or third class Magistrate is subordinate to the Sub-divisional Magistrate as well as to the District Magistrate and supports the view that subordination does not depend upon being under appellate jurisdiction. No Magistrate can be under appellate jurisdiction of two different courts. A Sessions judge exercises appellate jurisdiction over Magistrates but the Magistrates are not declared to be subordinate to him except to the extent and in the manner expressly provided in the rest of the Code, vide Section 17 (5). Though Magistrates are not subordinate to the Sessions Judge, they are inferior to him for the purposes of Sections 435 and 437, Cr. P. C.

It is to be noted that the revisional jurisdiction conferred upon the High Court or a Sessions Judge or a District Magistrate over proceedings conducted by a Magistrate is on account of the latter being an 'inferior criminal court'' and mot a 'court subordinate to them'. The legislature has carefully used the words 'inferior criminal court' instead of the words 'court subordinate to it or him.' Section 21 (2) empowers the State Government, to declare Presidency Magistrates to be subordinate to the Chief Presidency Magistrate and to 'define the exient of their subordination.' Under Section 192 a Sub-Divisional Magistrate may transfer a case for inquiry to 'any Magistrate subordinate to him.'' For purposes of Section 195 'a court shall be deemed to be subordinate to the court to which appeals ordinarily lie;' this shows that a court may be subordinate to another for one purpose and to a third for another purpose and that subordination in this sense does not depend upon being under appellate or revisional or supervisory jurisdiction.

Other provisions in which the words 'subordinate to' are used are Sections 202 (1), 349 (1), 423 (1) (b), 426 (2), 432 (1), 520, 526 (1) (a), 527 (1) and 554 (2). The provisions in Sections 526(1), 527 (1), 554 (1) and (2), (a) and (c) etc. may suggest that 'any criminal court subordinate to the High Court' means any court over which it exercises any jurisdiction whether appellate or revisiomal or as a court of reference, but even then only those courts that are created under the Cri. P. C. can be said to be courts subordinate to the High Court and not other courts, such as Nyaya Panchayats.

5. In the C. P. C. one finds Section 3 laying down that

'for the purposes of this Code, the District Court is subordinate to the High Court, and every Civil Court of a grade; inferior to that of a District Court and every Court of Small Causes is subordinate to the High Court and District Court.'.

Section 100 lays down that

'an appeal shall lie to the High Court from every decree passed in appeal by any Court subordinate to a High Court'.

This provision conferring a right of appeal from a subordinate court would be against the contention that subordination arises Out op being under appellate jurisdiction. A court must be subordinate to a High Court and then an appeal will He to the High Court; it is not that a court is subordinate 'to the High Court because an appeal lies to it. The words 'ainy court subordinate to' are used also in Sections 113 115, etc.

6. It will be noticed from the foregoing provisions that courts are declared to be subordinate to other courts in order that certain jurisdictions and powers may be exercised over them. Since it must be settled over which courts powers and jurisdictions can be exercised by others, the Codes contain provisions declaring which courts are subordinate to which.

7. All civil courts in Uttar Pradesh are constituted under the Bengal, Agra and Assam Civil Courts Act, 1887; it deals with courts of District Judges, Additional Judges, Civil Judges and Munsifs. Section 9 provides that subject to the superintendence of the High Court the District Judge shall have administrative control over all the civil courts under the Act; this provision makes all the Civil Courts subservient or subordinate to the District Judge. Which courts exercise appellate jurisdiction over which is Stated in Sections 20, 21 etc. Thus there is one provision which confers appellate jurisdiction and another provision which confers administrative control. Sections 22 and 23 lay down that powers can be exercised by District Judges over courts under their administrative control; Section 9 is enacted simply for the purpose of showing over which courts the powers can be exercised by the District Judges. Section 39 lays down that for a particular purpose a court subject to the administrative control of the District Judge will be deemed to be immediately subordinate to the District Judge. This confirms that not only being under the administrative control of, but also being subordinate to another court is a matter of statutory authority.

8. The Constitution uses both the phrases 'a court subordinate to' and 'subordinate courts'. The highest court in India is the Supreme Court and though it has appellate jurisdiction not only over High Courts but also over other courts and tribunals, they are not declared to be subordinate to it; they are inferior to it but not subordinate to it. It has the powers of a court of record including the power to punish for contempt of itself; it has no power to punish lor contempt of any High Court or other court or tribunal. Article 227 invests each High Court with superintendence over 'all courts and tribunals throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction'. Article 228 empowers every High Court to withdraw a case pending in 'a court subordinate to it' involving a question as to the interpretation of the Constitution, Chapter V of the Constitution bears the heading 'The High Courts in the States'' and Ch. VI 'Subordinate Courts'. Chapter VI includes Articles 233 relating to appointment of District Judges, Article 234 relating to appointment of persons other than District Judges to the judicial service of the State, Article 235 vesting in a High Court the control over 'district courts and courts subordinate thereto' and Article 237 relating to Magistrates. The very fact that the Constitution uses the two phrases tin different contexts shows that they are not synonymous. The phrase 'Subordinate courts' is used in the sense of courts inferior to the High Court. Article 311(1) speaks of 'an authority subordinate to that by which he was appointed' with reference to a member of the civil service the words 'subordinate to' clearly mean 'subservient to'. There can be no question of an appeal from the civil servant's decision to the authority and the words cannot mean 'an authority to which appeals lie from his decision''.

9. Different elements are involved in the relationships 'inferiority', 'subordination', 'amenability to the appellate jurisdiction' and 'amenability to the supervisory jurisdiction' and though there may be some overlapping no one relation can be said to be synonymous with any other or with any two or three put together. All these phrases convey different ideas even though there may be some overlapping. There are elements present in each which are missing from the others. At least two depend upon statutory authority and there are statutory provisions creating the third, viz. subordination. Consequently there would be no justification for saying that a court subordinate to the High Court is a court over which it has powers of superintendence under Article 227.

The power of superintendence over a court or tribunal is derived from its being situated within the High Court's .territorial limits and not from any other fact, such as that it is subordinate to it. It is a constitutional power depending solely upon the situation. The power conferred by Article 228 can he exercised by a High Court only in respect of a court or tribunal within its territorial limits, i. e. a court or tribunal over which it has superintendence under Article 227. If every such court or tribunal became subordinate to it because it is under its superintendence, the words 'pending in a court Subordinate to if in Article 228 would have been wholly redundant. Similarly the words under consideration in Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act also would have been redundant. Any interpretation that brings about pleonasm in an enactment must be void. We cannot assume that the Constituent Assembly and the Legislature used language unnecessarily and we must hold that every court or tribunal over which a High Court exercises any kind of jurisdiction or authority does not thereby necessarily become subordinate to it.

The Board of Revenue is under the superintendence of this Court, but I doubt if anybody would say that it is subordinate to it. It may be an inferior court in comparison to it and may also be under an obligation to submit returns to it, or to comply with the General Rules issued by it, or to use the forms prescribed by it, or to levy fees settled by it, still it cannot be said to be subservient to it. This Court itself is under an obligation to submit returns to the State Government, but this obligation does not make it subordinate to it. A count can be inferior, without being subservient, to the High Court, if its powers and jurisdictions are smaller than those of the High Court, or if it is created by an inferior authority, or if less qualifications are required for its members, it is an inferior court in relation to the High Court, even though the High Court may have no power (other than the supervisory power) over it. 'Inferiority' and 'subordination' denote two different qualities, as would be evident from the facts that an Assistant Lecturer in an Intermediate College is interior to an Assistant Lecturer in a University, a High Court of a State is inferior to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Counicl or to the House of Lords and a Sub-Assistant Surgeon is interior to a Commissioner of a division.

10. This Court has no appellate powers over decisions of Nyaya panchayats and the argument that a court subject to appellate jurisdiction of another is subordinate to it is of no avail in the instant case.

11. I adhere to the reasons for which I said in the cases of Ram Ratan Shukla : AIR1956All258 and Bishun Kant, Civil Misc. Contempt case No. 6 of 1959, D/- 26-11-1959 (All) (supra) that an Assistant Consolidation Officer and a District Magistrate hearing an appeal under the Municipalities Act are not courts subordinate to this Court. If it is correct that ''subordinate to' means 'subservient to', that subservience requires statutory authority and that it is distinct from being under the appellate, revisional or supervisory jurisdiction, it means that no court oan be held to be subordinate to another unless it is declared to be so by a statute.

12. An election tribunal was held to be a court subordinate to the High Court in Nirbhayadas Gangaram v. Rameshwar : AIR1960MP115 by Srivastava and Sharma, JJ., and in Chunnilal Ken v. Shyamlal : AIR1959MP50 by Khan and Krishnan JJ. It may be conceded that an election tribunal is a Court. The only reason given by the learned Judges for their view that as a Court it is subordinate to the High Court is that an appeal lies from it to the High Court. aS I pointed out, subordination to the High Court is not synonymous with being under its appellate jurisdiction; the law contained in the Codes of Civil and Criminal Procedure is against such a view. In the State v. Krishna Madho : AIR1952All86 Misra and Beg, JJ. laid down that a sub-divisional Magistrate is a Court subordinate to the High Court; they observed that the words 'subordinate court' seem to have been used in a wide sense so as to include any Court over which the High Court has appellate jurisdiction, though as a matter of fact an appeal may not lie to it in any particular case. No reasons have been given by the learned Judges for thinking that the words 'subordinate court' might have been used in a wide sense. Further a court of a Sub-divisional Magistrate created under the Cr. P. C., may be said to be subordinate to the High Court, but it does not follow that a Nyaya Panchayat also is subordinate.

The question raised in Satdeo v. Baba Raghav Das, AIR 195S All 419 was whether an Assistant Collector, First Class, functioning under the Land Revenue Act was subordinate to the High Court. Mushtaq Ahmad, J, was of the opinion that he was, Raghubar Dayal J. was of the opinion that he was not, and on reference Wali Ullah, J., agreed with Mushtaq Ahmad, J. The learned Judge interpreted the words 'subordinate to the High Court' to mean 'subordinate in relation to the High Court' or 'inferior''. With great respect to the learned Judge the words 'subordinate court' and the words 'a court subordinate to' do not mean exactly the same thing. The question whether a commissioner appointed under the Public Servants (Inquiries) Act (No. 37 of 1850) was a court subordinate to the High Court or not arose before the Supreme Court in Brajnandan Sinha v. Jyoti Narain : 1956CriLJ156 . Though Bhagwati, J., speaking for the Court did not consider it necessary to decide whether he is subordinate to the High Court within the meaning of the Contempt of Courts Act (because he was held to be not a 'court'' at all) he did observe at page 69 :--

'The expression 'Courts subordinate to the High Courts' would prima facie mean the Courts of law subordinate to the High Courts in the heirarchy of Courts established for the purpose of administration of justice throughout 'the Union.'

This observation must be given its full effect; prima facie the words in the Act mean Courts mentioned in the Codes of Criminal Procedure and in the Local Acts creating civil courts of various grades. Nyaya Panchayats are not such courts and prima facie they are not subordinate to the High Court Even when the matter is examined in all its aspects one would not come to a different conclusion.

13. The answer to the question by the Full Bench will, however, be in the affirmative in accordance with the majority view.

Takru, J.

14. The following question has been referred to this Full Bench for decision :

'Whether Nyaya Panchayats are 'courts' subordinate to the High Court within the meaning of Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act.'

15. Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act--hereinafter called the Act--runs thus:--

'(1) Subject to the provisions of Sub-section (2), every High Court shall have and exercise the same jurisdiction, powers and authority, in accordance with the same procedure and practice in respect of contempts of Courts subordinate to it as it has and exercises in respect of contempt of itself.

2. No High Court shall take cognizance of a contempt alleged to have been committed in respect of a Court subordinate to it where such contempt is an offence punishable under the I. P. C.'

16. The applicability of the aforesaid section to Nyaya Panchayats thus depends upon the answer to the questions (1) whether Nyaya Panchayats are Courts, and if the answer to that question is in the affirmative, (2) Whether they are Courts subordinate to the High Court? I shall therefore, proceed to answer those questions in the order in which they are set out above.

17. The word 'court' has not been defined in the Act, but as it has received interpretation from the highest court of the land in a number of cases, its essential attributes have to be regarded as no longer open to discussion. In the latest case of : 1956CriLJ156 the Supreme Court after discussing the earlier decisions in Bharat Bank Ltd., Delhi v. Employee's of Bharat Bank Ltd., Delhi : (1950)NULLLLJ921SC , Maqbool Husain v. State of Bombay : 1983ECR1598D(SC) and A. Venkataraman v. Union of India : 1954CriLJ993 laid down, the essential attributes of a 'court' in the following terms :--

'It is clear, therefore, that in order to constitute a Court in the strict sense of the term an essential condition is that the Court should have, apart from having some of the trappings of a judicial tribunal, power to give a decision or a definitive judgment which has finality and authoritativeness which arc the essential tests of a judicial pronouncement.'

18. The 'trappings of a judicial tribunal' referred to above are nothing else than the four requisites which the Supreme Court adopted from Cooper v. Wilson, 1937-2 KB 309 in : (1950)NULLLLJ921SC and reiterated in Maqbool Husain : 1983ECR1598D(SC) and Venkataraman : 1954CriLJ993 . The relevant quotation, from 1937-2 KB 309 reads thus:-

'A true judicial decision presupposes an existing dispute between two or more parties and then involves four requisites:- (1) the presentation (not necessarily orally) of their case by the parties to the dispute; (2) if the dispute between them is a question of fact, the ascertainment of the fact by means of evidence adduced by the parties to the dispute and often with the assistance of argument by or on behalf ot the parties on the evidence; (3) if the dispute between them is aquestion of law, the submission of legal arguments by the parties; and (4) a decision which disposes of the whole matter by a finding upon the faets in dispute and an application of the law of the land to the facts so found, including where required a ruling upon any disputed question of law.'

19. The question whether Nyaya Panchayats are courts has thus to be decided with reference to the tests enumerated above.

20. Now, the Nyaya Panchayats were brought into existence under the U. P. Panchayat Raj Act, 1947--hereinafter called the Panchayat Act--for deciding certain types of criminal, civil and revenue cases. Section 52 of the Panchayat Act gives a list of the offences which are cognizable by Nyaya Panchayats. Similarly Section 64 lays down the types of civil cases which Nyaya Panchayats may take cognizance of Section 75 then provides tor the manner in which ciyil, criminal and revenue cases can be instituted. As this section is of some importance for the determination of the question before this Bench it is necessary to quote it in full. Thut section reads thus:-

'(1) Any person who wishes to institute a (civil, criminal or revenue case) under this Act before a Nyaya Panchayat may make an application orally or in writing to the Sarpanch (and in his absence to the Sahayak Sarpanch) of the Nyaya Panchayat or in case of (their) absence from the circle to such other Panch as may have been appointed by the Sarpanch in this behalf and shall at the same time pay the prescribed Tee. The Court Fees Act, 1870, shall not apply to Nyaya Panchayat except as may be prescribed. In every civil case the plaintiff shall state its value.

2. Where a civil, criminal or revenue case is instituted orally, the Sarpanch, Sahayak Sarpanch or Panch receiving the application shall record without delay the prescribed particulars and the signature or thumb-impression of the applicant shall be taken thereon.''

Section 76 then provides for the laying of the application referred to in the previous section before a Bench of the Nyaya Panchayat for disposal and for the fixing of a date for the first hearing of the application before the said Bench and for the giving of notice of the said date to the applicant, complainant or plaintiff as the case may be and to the members of the Bench. Section 83 lays down the procedure which the Nyaya Panchayat has to follow in trying cases. As this again is a section of considerable importance for the purposes of deciding the point before us it has to be quo ed in full :

'Procedure and power to ascertain truth-

(1) The Nyaya Panchayat shall receive such evidence in a civil, criminal or revenue case as the parties may adduce and may call for such further evidence as, in their opinion, may be necessary for the determination of the points in issue. It shall be the duty of the Nyaya Panchayat to ascertain the acts of every civil, criminal or revenue case before it by every lawful means in its power and thereafter to make such decree or order, with or without costs, as to it may seem just and legal. It may make local investigation in the village to which the dispute relates. It shall follow the procedure prescribed by or under this Act. The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and the Indian Limitation Act, 1908, shall not apply to any civil, criminal or revenue case in a Nyaya Panchayat except as provided in this Act or as may be prescribed.

2. Nothing in this sub-section shall entitle any party to compound any offence which is not compoundable under the provisions of the Cr. P. C. or to compound an offence without the permission of the Bench concerned, if it is compoundable with permission under the provisions of the said Code.'

21. Rules 95 and 100 of the U. P. Panchayat Raj Rules framed under Section 110 of the Panchayat Act lay down the details of the procedure which the Nyaya Panchayats have to follow at the hearing of cases pending before them. Rule 95 provides for the examination of parties and their witnesses and states that:-

'(1) At the hearing of a civil or revenue case, a Nyaya Panchayat may first examine the parties to ascertain their cases and to find out what points of difference between them are. In taking evidence the Nyaya Panchayat shall first examine the plaintiff or the applicant and his witnesses and afterwards the defendant or the objector and his witnesses, as the case may be. While trying a criminal case, the Nyaya Panchayat shall first explain to the accused the charge or charges made against him and record the prosecution evidence and then examine the accused and record, the evidence in defence:

Provided that if in a criminal case an accused makes a clear and voluntary confession of the crime, he shall be convicted without recording any evidence; while in a civil or revenue case if the claim of the plaintiff or the applicant is totally admitted by the other party, it will not be necessary for the Nyaya Panchayat to record any evidence.

2. Each party shall be allowed to cross-examine the other party except an accused and the witnesses produced just after their examination-in-chief, but the Nyaya Panchayat may, either of its own motion or on the request of any party, examine any person at any stage of the proceedings before passing final orders, and in such a case each party shall be entitled to put questions to the persons so examined.

3. Before examining any person except an accused a Nyaya Panchayat shall administer him the following oath or if the person is willing to make an oath in any other form to which peculiar sanctity is attached in the locality, then in such other form.

'I shall state the truth, and nothing but the truth. So help me God.'

Rule 100 is headed, 'Judgment, order or decree', and provideg that :

'After ascertaining the facts of the case by examining the parties, their witnesses and the documents produced, if any, and by any other lawful means in its power, the Nyaya Panchayat shall record a brief judgment and the final order over the signatures of the Panches. The judgment shall be read in the open court and signatures or thumb-impressions of the parties present will be taken on it as far as possible, which shall form part of the record. The judgment, and if the cage is a civil or revenue case a decree in the prescribed form (Form No. 24) shall be drawn up in terms of the judgment.'

22. Finally Section 89 of the Panchayat Act provides for the revision of the orders and judgments of the Nyaya Panchayats. According to this section, a Sub-divisional Magistrate, Munsif or Sub-Divisional Officer (according as it is a criminal, civil or revenue case) may either on his own motion or on the application of any party made within 60 dsys from the date of the order complained of or where personal service of summons had not been effected on the applicant from the date of the knowledge of the order call for the record of any case which has been decided by a Nyaya Panchayat and if it appears to him that injustice or material irregularity has occurred, he may make such order in the case as he thinks fit.

Explanation--Failure to exercise a jurisdiction vested by law or exercise of jurisdiction in excess of that vested by law. shall for purposes of this section be deemed to be a material irregularity.

2. Without prejudice to the generally of the foregoing provisions, the sub-divisional Magistrate, Munsif or Sub- divisional Officer, as the case may be, may,

(a) quash the decree or order passed by the Nyaya Panchayat

(b) modify the order

(c) remand the case to the Nyaya Panchayat fer retrial, with such direction as he may deem fit, or

(d) try the case himself or transfer it to another court or Officer competent to try the same.

3. If any application under Sub-section (1) is found by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Munsif or Sub-divisional Officer, as the case may be, to be frivolous or vexatious he may, for reasons to be recorded, make an order for the payment of the opposite party by the applicant of special costs not exceeding fifty rupees by way of compensation.

4. Except as aloresaid, a decree or order passed by a Nyaya Panchayat in any civil, criminal or revenue case shall not be open to appeal or revision in any Court.'

23. I have purposely set out the relevant sections of panchyat Raj Act, and the rules made thereunder at some length, as, in my opinion, they go to show that the five attributes which a tribunal must possess before it can be called a 'court', are to be found present in the case of a Nyaya Panchayat. The first requisite laid down in 1937-2 KB 309 viz., the presentation (not necessarily orally) of their case by the parties to the dispute is to be found in Section 75. The second requisite viz., the ascertainment of questions of fact by means of evidence produced by the parties and often with the assistance of argument by or on behalf of the parties on the evidence, is to be found in Section 83 and RULES 95 and 100. The thrid requisite viz., that if the dispute between them is a question of law the submission of legal arguments by the parties, is inherently implied in Section 83 and Rules 95 and 100. The fourth requisite, viz., a decision which disposes of the whole matter by a finding upon the facts in dispute and an application of the law of the land to the facts so found, including where required a ruling upon any disputed, question of law, is laid down in Rule 100. The fifth requisite laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Brajnandan Sinha : 1956CriLJ156 viz., that the Court should also have the power to give a decision or a definitive judgment which has finality and authoritativeness is to be found both in Rule 100 and Section 89 (4).

24. on behalf of Mr. Raj Bahadur Verma, the alleged contemner, his learned counsel Mr. V. K. S. Chaudhary, contended that as Section 83 of the Panchayat Act casts upon the Nyaya Panchayat the duty of ascertaining facts, apart from the evidence adduced by the parties or called for by it, it cannot be regarded as 'court' properly so called. He also contended that as the Nyaya Panchayat can act on matters which are extra. neous to the evidence led before it, it cannot be held to be a 'court'. In my opinion neither of these contentions has any merit. The duty cost upon Nyaya Panchayat of ascertaining facts, of every civil, criminal or revenue case before it, is not absolute, but is subject to its performing that duty, as the subsequent words indicate, 'by every lawful means in its power'. 'Lawful means' clearly could not mean anything which is opposed to the rules of natural justice. Again the non-applicability of the C. P. C., the Cr. P. C., the Indian Evidence Act and the Indian Limitation Act to the cases before the Nyaya Panchayat does not make the latter arbitrary bodies in regard to matters covered by those statutes. The applicability of those statutes to cases before the Nyaya Panchayat had to be taken, away because the Panchayat Act provides for its own rules of limitation, procedure and evidence (vide the Schedule to Section 68 and Rule 99). aS the cases before the Nyaya Panchayat are of a petty nature, the rules of procedure and evidence have been simplified but nonetheless they are rules in conformity with the well-established rules and principles of natural justice. The first contention of Mr. Chaudhary must therefore fail.

25. The second contention of Mr. Chaudhry that the Nyaya Panchayat can act on matters extraneous to the evidence led by the parties, appears to be based upon a misreading of Section 83. That section nowhere lays down that in deciding cases the Nyaya Panchayat is free to act outside the record. All that it says is that it shall be the duty of the Nyaya Panchayat to ascertain the facts of the case before it by 'every lawful means in its power'. I have alrady discussed the meaning which is to be given to this expression, and having regard to that discussion, the second (contention of Mr. Chaudhry must also fail.

For the reasons given above, I have no doubt in my mind that Nyaya Panchayatg are 'courts' within the meaning of Section 3 of the Act.

26. This brings me to the consideration of the second question, viz. that if Nyaya Panchyats are courts, are they courts subordinate to the High Court. The answer to the question depends upon what the word 'subordinate' in Section 3 of the Act means. This word has also come in for interpretation in a number of cases and, in all of them it has been construed to mean 'judicial subordination,'--the test of judicial subordination being the right of ultimate appeal and revision from its judgment and orders to the High Court. This view was taken by a Full Bench of this Court in State v. Brahma Prakash : AIR1950All556 where it was held that:

'Section 2, Contempt of Courts Act when it speaks of Courts subordinate to the High Court, clearly, in our opinion, refers to judicial subordination. Judicial Magistrates are Magistrates of the First Class whose judgments come before Sessions Judges and the High Court in appeal and revision and their Courts are, we think, clearly sub-ordinate to the High Court within the meaning of Section 2, Contempt of Courts Act.'

27. Long before the Full Bench case referred to above, Iqbal Ahmad, J. in Bishambhar Nath v. Achal Singh : AIR1932All651 took a similar though somewhat extended view on this matter. The learned Judge stated as follows:

'It appears to me, however, that a court can be said to be subordinate to another court only if the latter court has appellate or revisions jurisdiction or power of superintendence given to it by some statutory provision over the former courts.....

28. The precise question, as to whether Panchayati, Adalats are courts subordinate to the High Court, came for decision before a Division Bench of this Court in Sukhdeo Baiswar v. Brij Bhusan : AIR1951All667 and on a consideration of the relevant enactments and case law it was observed by Desai, J., (as he then was), with whom Dayal, J., concurred that:-

'Panchayati Adalats as the name itself indicates are 'Courts' within the meaning of the Contempt of Courts Act.'

and later on the same learned Judge observed,

'My finding is that this Court has now the same power of superintendence which it had upto the passing of the Government of India Act of 1935. In exercise of it, it can check the assumption or excess of jurisdiction by Panchayati Adalats or compel them to exercise their jurisdiction and do their duty. They are, therefore, judicially subordinate to this Court.'

29. In the case of : AIR1953All419 Waliullah, J., on difference between Raghubar Dayal and Mushtaq Ahmad, JJ., after discussing the case law agreed with Mushtaq Ahmad, J., and held that :--

'The object of the provisions of Section 2 (1) is to provide for the protection of the position of Courts subordinate to the High Court against unlawful interference with their judicial functions. For such a purpose, and in such a context, the position of an inferior Court, i. e., a subordinate Court must be considered in its totality in relation to Ithe particular Act or provision of law under which it may happen to be acting at the time when an alleged interference with its judicial activity occurs.'

On a survey of the decisions referred to above, it would appear that the uniform view of our High Court has been to regard 'judicial subordination' in Section 3 of the Act as meaning the maintainability of the right of ultimate appeal or revision to it from the judgments or orders of the subordinate court and in two of them viz. Bishambhar Nath : AIR1932All651 and Sukhdeo Baiswar : AIR1951All667 , the supervisory jurisdiction of the High Court was also held to be a test for deciding that question.

30. In 1956 and again in 1957, a differed view was expressed by Desai J. in : AIR1956All258 and Phul Kumari v. The State : AIR1957All495 . As Desai J, was a party to the judgment in Sukhdeo Baiswar : AIR1951All667 it would be appropriate to set out his reasons for taking a different view in his own words. Said the learned Judge in : AIR1956All258 :

'It may be that under English Law thepower of a superior Court to punish contempt ofan inferior Court is derived from the superiorCourt's having superintendence over the inferiorCourt. But in Section 3 of the Act the Legislaturedid not use the words 'the Courts over which theHigh Court has superintendence' or the words theCourts within the territories in relation to whichthe High Court exercises jurisdiction', to describethe Courts the contempt of which can be punished by it. There is, therefore, some force in the contention that the Legislature by using the word 'subordinate' in the Act did not mean subject to the supervisory jurisdiction'. Chapter VI of the Constitution deals with 'subordinate Courts' and although that chapter may not give an exhaustive list of Counts subordinate to a High Court, it can hardly be disputed that some guidance can be had from the nature of the Courts mentioned in the Chapter about the meaning of subordination.

Article 227 has used a word 'superintendence' while the next article expressly uses the words 'a Court subordinate to it' thereby suggesting that the Constitution distinguished between subordination to the High Court and being under its superintendence. If it were otherwise and every Court mentioned in Article 227. were subordinate to the High Court, the High Court would be obliged to withdraw cases from a large number of Courts, and it was not the intention of the Constitution makers that it should do so.

In view of the provisions of Article 226 there is much to be said for restricting superintendence to administrative superintendence and it is doubtful if a Court over which the High Court has only administrative superintendence can be said to be subordinate to it.'

These observations were reiterated by him in Phul Kumari's case, : AIR1957All495 .

31. The divergent note thus struck by Desai, J. makes it necessary for me to re-examine the entire position in this regard. It is an undisputed fact that in relation to Nyaya Panchayats, the High Court does not possess any appellate or revisional jurisdiction, so that if the latter were the sole test for determining that question there could be no manner of doubt that Nyaya Panchayats could not be held to be courts 'judicially subordinate' to the High Court. But the question is whether there is anything to justify this limited interpretation being put upon that expression. In my opinion there is no warrant for taking that restricted view, for reasons which I shall proceed to indicate.

32. Now, under Article 226 of the Constitution, every High Court has been given the power to issue directions, orders or writs to any person, or authority including in appropriate cases any government within the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III or for any other purpose.

33. One of the writs which the High Court is authorised to issue is the writ of certiorari. The true nature and ambit of this writ is to be found laid down in the leading case of T C. Basappa v. T. Nagappa, MR 1954 S.C 440 in the following terms :

'One op the fundamental principles in regard to the issuing of a writ of certiorari is, that the writ can be availed of only to remove or adjudicate on the validity of judicial acts. The expression 'judicial acts' includes the exercise of quasi-judicial functions by administrative bodies or other authorities or persons obliged to exercise such functions and is used in contrast with what are purely ministerial acts. The second essential feature of a writ of certiorari is that the control which is exercised through it over judicial or quasi-judicial tribunals or bodies is not in an appellate but supervisory capacitiy. In granting a writ of certiorari the superior count does not review or reweigh the evidence upon which the determination of the inferior tribunal purports to be based. It demolishes the order which it considers to be without jurisdiction or palpably erroneous but does not substitute its own views for those of the inferior tribunal. The supervision of the superior court exercised through writs of certiorari goes on two points. One is the area of inferior jurisdiction and the qualifications and conditions of its exercise; the other is the observance of law in the course of its exercise. These two heads normally cover all the grounds on which a writ of certiorari could be demanded. Certiorari may and is generally granted when a court has acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction. The want of jurisdiction may arise from the nature of the subject-matter of the proceeding or from the absence of some preliminary proceeding or the count itself may not be legally constituted or suffer from certain disability by reason of extraneous circumstances . When the jurisdiction of the court depends upon the existence of some collateral fact, it is well settled that the court cannot by a wrong decision of the fact give it jurisdiction which it would not otherwise possess.

A tribunal may be competent to enter upon an enquiry but in making the enquiry it may act in flagrant disregard of the rules of procedure or where no particular procedure is prescribed, it may violate the principles of natural justice. A writ of certiorari may be available in such cases. An error in the decision or determination itself may also be amenable to a writ of certiorari but it must be a manifest error apparent on the face of the proceedings, e.g. when it is based on clear ignoranca or disregard of the provisions of law. In other words, it is a patent error which can be corrected by certiorari but not a mere wrong decision.'

34. The aforesaid observations make it clear that the power which the High Court exercises under Article 226 is not 'in an appellate but supervisory capacity' and further that while it demolishes the order which it considers to be without jurisdiction or palpably erroneous, it 'does not substitute its own views for those of the inferior tribunal'. In other words, the power of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution is a somewhat limited power, and is not conterminous with the power which it possesses on the appellate and the revisional side. But the fact that the said power is not co-extensive with the power which it possesses on the appellate and revisional side does not, in my opinion militate against the basic fact that the High Court possesses the power to correct certain types of errors of the Nyaya Panchayats. This power, in my view, is sufficient to establish the necessary judicial kinship between the High. Court and the Nyaya Panehayats, so as to make the latter judicially subordinate to the former. For the reasons indicated above, I find myself unable to subscribe to the view expressed by Desai, J. in (S) AIR 1956 SC 258 and in Phul Kumari : AIR1957All495 and, with the greatest respect, beg to disagree with it.

35. Mr. V. K. S. Chaudhary, however, contended that the decisions referred to above except the decision in Phul Kumari : AIR1957All495 can no longer be regarded as laying down good law in view of the observations made by the Supreme Cour.fi in Brajnandan Sinha : 1956CriLJ156 to the effect that :

'The word ''Court' is not defined in the Contempt of Courts Act and the expression 'Courts subordinate to the High Courts' would prima facie mean the courts of law subordinate to the High Court in the hierarchy of Courts established for the purpose of administration of justice through out India.'

36. The aforesaid observation, according to Mr. Chaudhry, confines the meaning of the expression 'Courts subordinate to the High Courts' in Section 3 of the Act, to Courts which are subordinate to them in the 'hierarchy of courts established for administration of justice throughout the Union: and as Nyaya Panchayats fall outside that hierarchy they cannot be held to be courts subordinate to the High Court for the purposes of the Act. In my opinion, the aforesaid conteation has no merit, for the simple reason that the Supreme Court has nowhero laid down as to what courts are to be regarded as falling within the expression in the hierarchy of courts subordinate to the High Courts'. That expression must, therefore, be givien its primary meaning of courts which are judicially subordinate to the High Courts, under some valid law. I have already given my reasons for holding that Nyaya Panchayats are courts which are established by the Panchayat Act for administering justice. The judgments, decrees and orders of those courts are open to revision under Section 89 of the Panchayat Act by a Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Munsif or Sub-Divisional Officer according to whether they are given in criminal, civil or revenue cases and the orders of line latter Courts are in their turn amenable to the writ jurisdiction of the High Court. The Panchayat Act thus creates a new hierarchy of courts subordinate to the High Court. As such the Nyaya Panchayats also fall within the scope and ambit of the aforesaid expression relied on by Mr. Chaudhry.

37. For the reasons stated above, I would answer the question referred to this Bench in the affirmative.

Dwivedi, J.

38. Ram Saran Tewari, Sarpanch ofthe Nyaya Panchayat, Mukimpur, has initiated this case for taking action under Section 3 of the Contempt of Counts Act, 1952, (hereinafter called the 1952 Act), against the opposite parties for contempt of the aforesaid Nyaya Panchayat, which has been constituted under the U. P. Panchayat Raj Act, 1947. At the hearing of the case before Bromme, J. the principal question posed was: Is the Nyaya Panchayat a court subordinate to this Court within the meaning of Section 3 of the 1952 Act? In Sukhdeo Baiswar v. Brij Bhushan,. : AIR1951All667 a DivisionBench of the Court held that it was subordinate to the Court in view of the Court's power of superintendence over it under Article 227 of the Constitution. In : AIR1956All258 there is an obiter dictum of Desai, J. (as he then was) that the subjection of a court to the superintendence of the High Court would not make it a court subordinate to the High Court within the meaning of Section 3. Feeling inclined for a reconsideration of the earlier decision in the light of the later opinion of Desai, J., the learned Judge framed the following question of law for decision by a larger Bench.-

'Whether Nyaya Panchayats are courts sub-ordinate to the High Court within the meaning of Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act?'

39. Sri Chaudhary, learned counsel for the opposite parties, submits that Nyaya Panchayats are not courts. In Sukhdeo's case : AIR1951All667 it has been held that they are courts, and I respectfully agree with that opinion. I need not traverse again the field covered in that case. Suffice it to say that they are empowered under the U. P. Panchayat Raj Act to try certain criminal cases, civil suits and cases under the Land Revenue Act, which were formerly tried by the regular criminal civil and revenue courts. Although the C.P.C., Cr.P.C., the Limitation Act and the Evidence Act do not regulate the proceedings before them, but their procedure is marked by judicial spirit. In short they perform traditional judicial functions in substantially traditional judicial manner. Their judgments and decrees are binding on the parties, and pronouncement of a binding judgment is an essential index of a court : 1956CriLJ156 .

40. The next question is whether Nyaya Panchayats are courts subordinate to the High Court within the meaning of Section 3 of the 1952 Act. In : AIR1950All556 a Full Bench of five learned Judges of this Court held that the word 'subordinate' in Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1926 (hereinafter called the 1926 Act), meant judicial subordination. That view was followed in : AIR1953All419 . In Sukhdeo's case : AIR1951All667 which was also a case under the 1926 Act, this Court held that Panchayati Adalats, now named Nyaya Panchayats, were courts subordinate to the High Court, because they were subject to judicial superintendence of the High Court under Article 227 of the Constitution. Other High Courts have also held that the word 'subordinate' in Section 3 of the 1926 Act meant judicial subordination. Sri Chaudhari seeks to get over the decisions of this Court in two ways. Firstly, he says that they are rendered stale in view of an observation of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Brajnandan Sinha's case : 1956CriLJ156 (cited supra) :--

'The word 'Court' was not defined in the Act, and the expression 'courts subordinate to the High Courts' would prima facie mean the Courts of law subordinate to the High Counts in the hierarchy of courts established for the purpose of adminisitration of Justice throughout the Union.'

Sri Chaudhary relies upon this observation to show that the rule of judicial subordination is no longer good law. It is, I think, necessary to consider the facts of that case to ascertain whether their Lordships of the Supreme Court intended to overrule the cases of Brahma Prakash : AIR1950All556 and Sukhdeo : AIR1951All667 and lay down a different test for determining subordination of a court to the High Courts.

41. A Commissioner was appointed under Public Servants (Inquiries) Act, 1850 to enquire into charges levelled against an employee of the State of Bihar. During the enquiry Brajnandan Sinha, Deputy Secretary to Government, wrote some letters to the Commissioner. The employee successfully applied to the High Courit tor taking action against him under the 1952 Act. The High Court held that the Commissioner was a court subordinate to it under Section 3 of the 1952 Act. on appeal, on behalf of Brajnandan Sinha two arguments were raised; one of them was that the Commissioner was not a court, and the other was that if he were a court, he was not a court subordinate to the High Court. While proceeding to deal with the first argument their Lordships made at the outset the observation on which Sri Chaudhary founds his arguments. I do not think that that observation helps him. It does not mean more than what it says. The observation, as their Lordships said, is made on first impression. It is not, in my opinion, intended to limit the scope of the expression 'courts subordinate' to the courts subordinate to the High Court in the hierarchy of courts established for administration of justice. After having held that the Commissioner was not a 'court' their Lordships observed that they would not decide the second question whether the Commissioner was a court subordinate to the High Court.

42. Secondly, Sri Chaudhary argues that the Parliament should be presumed to have used the expression 'courts subordinate' in the 1952 Act in the same sense in which it is used in the Constitution. It is said that the Constitution makes a distinction between 'subordinate' and 'superintendence'. Article 227 uses the word 'superintendence', which has been construed to include judicial superintendence, while Article 228 uses the phrase 'court subordinate'. Emphasis is also given to the heading of Ch. VI of Part VI of the Constitution. It is claimed that the Chapter, which deals with judicial officers and magistrates, is exhaustive of the list of subordinate courts. The Nyaya Panchayat is not mentioned in that Chapter, and we are accordingly asked to hold that it is not a court subordinate to the High Court. This argument is supported by the obiter of Desai, J. in Ratan Shukla's case : AIR1956All258 , (cited supra).

43. During arguments counsel did not refer us to Article 231(2)(b) of the Constitution and the constitutional history of Articles 227 and 228. The provisions in the Government of India Act. 1935, which correspond to those Articles are Sections 224 and 225. Section 224 reads:

'224-(1) Every High Court shall have superintendence over all courts in India for the time being subject to its appellate jurisdiction, and may do any of the following things, that is to say,

(a) call for returns;

(b) make and issue general rules and prescribe form for regulating the practice and proceedings of such courts;

(c) prescribe forms in which books, entries and accounts shall be kept by the officers of any such courts; and

(d) settle tables of fees to be allowed to thesheriff, attorneys, and all clerks and officers ofcourt :

Provided that such rules, form and tables shall not be inconsistent with the provision of any law for the lime being in force, and shall require the previous approval of the Governor.

2. Nothing in this section shall be consstructed as giving to a High Court any jurisdictionto question any judgment of any inferior courtwhich is not otherwise subject to appeal or revision.'

Section 225 reads :

''225 (1) If on an application made in accordance with the provisions of this section a High Court is satisfied that a case pending in an inferior court being a case which the High Court has power to transfetr to itself for trial, involves, or is likely to involve the question of the validity of any Federal or Provincial Act, it shall exercise that power.

2. An application for the purposes of this section shall not be made except, in relation to a Federal Act, by the Advocate-General for the Federation and, in relation to a Provincial Act, by the Advocate-General for the Federation or the Advocate-General for the Province'.

44. From a reading of these provisions one may elicit these conclusions :

1. A High Court shall have superintendence over all courts subjecj to its appellate jurisdiction.

2. Superintendence does not involve judicial oversight.

3. A court, which is subject to superintendence of a High Court, is 'an inferior court'. In other words it is conceived by the British Parliament to be a court subordinate to the High Court. This conclusion is deducible from Sub-section (2) of Section 224. Since in its nature it is explanatory of Sub-section (1) of that section, the words 'any inferior court' would reflet to courts described in that sub-section.

4. Courts subject to superintendence of a High Court, that is to say, inferior courts, are of two kinds, one which try cases which may .be tried by a High Court in the exercise or its original jurisdiction, and the other which hear cases other than the cases which may be tried by a High Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction. Section 225 would not apply to the second class.

5. Inferior Court in Section 225 refers to a court subject to superintendence of a High Court.

45. Then we come to Section 231. Its marginal note is 'saving and definitions'. We are not concerned with Sub-section (1). Sub-section (2), which is important, pertinently provides:-

'Where a High Court exercises jurisdiction in relation to mono than one Province or in relation to a Province and an area not forming part of a Province ..... the reference tothe approval by the Governor of rules, forms andtables for subordinate Courts shall be construedas a reference to the approval thereof by theGovernor or the Province in which the subordinate court is situate, or, if it is situate in an areanot forming par.t of a Province, by the GovernorGeneral.'

46. A stereoscopic reading of Sections 224 and 231 (2) would show that the expression 'subordinate courts' in the latter provision refers to courts, which are subject to superintendence of a High Court. The underlying object of that provision is to preserve the autonomy of every Provincial Executive and the independence of the Federal Executive, and it should be so construed as to achieve its object.

47. To sum up, I am of opinion that the expressions 'inferior court' and 'subordinate courts' in the Government of India Act meant courts which were subject to the administrative superintendence of a High Court. Thus all courts subjecs to its appellate jurisdiction were subordinate courts.

48. We now move on to Articles 227 and 228. Article 227 reads :

'227--(1) Every High Court shall have superintendence over all Courts and tribunals throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provision, the High Court may-

(a) call for returns from such courts;

(b) make and issue general rules and prescribe forms for regulating the practice and proceedings of such Courts; and

(c) prescribe forms in which books, entries and accounts shall be kept by the officers' of any euch Courts.

(3) The High Court may also settle, tables of fees to be allowed to the sheriff and all clerks and officers of such courts and to attorneys, advocates and pleaders practising therein:

Provided that any rules made, forms prescribed or table's settled under Clause (2) or Clause (3) shall not be inconsistent with the provision of any law for the time being in force, and shall require the previous approval of the Governor.

(4) Nothing in this article shall be deemed to confer on a High Court powers of superintendence over any Court or tribunal constituted by or under any law relating to the Armed Forces.' Article 228 reads':-

'228--If the High Court is satisfied that a case pending in a Court subordinate to it involves a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution the determination of which is necessary for the disposal of the case, it shall withdraw the case and may-

(a) either dispose of the case itself, or

(b) determine the said question or law and return the case to the Court from which the case has been so withdrawn together with a copy of its judgment on such question, and the said court shall on receipt thereof proceed to dispose of the case in conformity with such judgment.' Here one may also set out the material portion of Article 231 :--

'231. (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the preceding provisions of this Chapter, Parliament may by law establish a common High Court for two or more Statics or for two or more States and a Union territory.

(2) In relation to any such High Court-

(b) the reference in Article 227 to the Governor shall, in relation to any rules, forms or tables for subordinate Courts be construed as a reference to the Governor of the State in which the subordinate courts are situate; and

49. I think that the expression 'court subordinate' in Article 228 and the expression 'subordinate courts' in Article 231(2)(b) are used in the same sense. In what sense then is the second expression used in Article 231(2)(b)? Now, Clause (.1) of Article 227 subjects all courts situate within the territorial jurisdiction of the High Court to its superintendence. Clause (1) is couched in general language and Clauses (2) and (3) are only illustrative of the wide sweep of the undefined superintending power Under that power a High Court may call for returns from courts, frame rules for regulating their practice and procedure, prescribe forms regulating their practice and procedure, prescribe forms for their use and fix fees to be allowed to the officials of courts and lawyers practising therein. These powers are permissive. A High Court may not exercises these powers or may exercise only one or more or all of them. Further, the exercise of these powers is subject to two conditions, namely, (1) rules, forms and table of fees must not be inconsistent with any law, and (2) must receive the previous approval of the Governor. Article 231(2)(b) is of an explanatory nature, and makes clear that approval of the rules, forms and scale of fees should be obtained from the Governor of the State in which the subordinate court is situate. I have little doubt in my mind that the expression 'suibordinate court' in Article 231(2)(b) refers to courts in Article 227(2). In other words, it means courts which are subject to the superintendence of the High Court. It cannot be interpreted to mean courts which are both subject to tthe superintendence of the High Court as well as subordinate to it. Such an interpretation is in disaccord with the nature and purpose of Clause (b). The provision is explanatory of Sub-section (2) of Article 227, and is designed to preserve the autonomy of the State in internal administration

50. I think my view derives support from the constitutional history of Articles 227 228 and 231(2)(b). The Government of India Act, 1935 made a significant improvement over the Government of India Act, 1919; it abolished dyarchy. But strangely enough, it retained a sort of dyarchy in the administration of justice in the provinces. It contemplated the existence and creation of courts, at once independent of, and uncontrollable by the High Court, Section 224 shows that the High Court had no control over all courts situate within its jurisdiction. The High Court appears to be called as high in Section 224 in an euphemistic sense. The makers of the Constitution, it seems to me, saw this patent defect, and decided not to perpetuate it. By Article 227 they made the High Court high over all the courts situate within its jurisdictionin the real sense of that term. They made all the courts subject to the superintendence of theHigh Court. They firmly secured the hegemony of the High Court in the administration of justice. Under the Constitution the principal organs of the State power are the State Legislature, the State Executive and the High Court.

51. Coming to Chap. VI of Part VI of the Constitution it does not profess to give an exhaustive list of subordinate courts. It deals only with a certain class of stipendiary judicial officers. For instance, it says nothing about honorary magistrates and Munsifs or officers presiding over revenue courts. Its scope and purpose is different from the scheme and vision of Article 227. While it seeks to secure judicial independence and regulate conditions of service of certain judicial officers, Article 227 ensures judicial superiority of the High Court. In the Government of India Act, 1935, the provisions dealing with the High Court are to be found in Chapter II of Part IX, and the provisions corresponding to Chapter VI of Part VI of the Constitution are grouped together under Chapter II of Part X. The heading of Chapter II of Part X is 'civil services', and the sub-heading under which the coresposding provisions are placed is 'Special Provisions as to Judicial Officers'.

52. The object underlying Chapter II of Part X is expressed by the Joint Parliamentary Committee thus :--

'We have been impressed by the mischiefs which have resulted elsewhere from a system under which promotion from grade to grade in a judicial hierarchy is in the hands of a Minister exposed to pressure from members of a popularly elected Legislature. Nothing is more likely to sap the independence of a magistrate than the knowledge that his career depends upon the favour of a Minister ...... It is the Subordinate Judiciary in India who are brought most closely into contact with the people, and it is no less important , perhaps indeed even more important, that their independence should be placed beyond question than in the case of superior Judges.....' (See J. p. C. Rep.(H. C. I., part I) paragraph 337, page 200).

53. Thus the scope and purpose of the two provisions are different, and Chapter VI would dimly illumine the implications of Article 227.

54. In Ratan Shukla's case : AIR1956All258 Beg, J., expressed no opinion as to the meaning of the expression 'courts subordinate'. Desai, J., interpreted 'the expression in the light of Article 228 and Chapter VI. It does not appear that he was referred to Article 232(b) the predecessor of Article 231(2)(b) and the constitutional history, which has been traced by me.

55. In view of the foregoing discussion my opinion is that the expression 'courts subordinate' in the 1952 Act means courts which are subject to superintendence of the High Court under Article 227 of the Constitution. I am supported in my view by decisions of the Punjab, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh High Courts (see Kapur Singh v. Jagat Narain, AIR 1951. Punj 49, Lakhama Pesha v. Venkatrao Swamirao : AIR1955Bom103 , and : AIR1960MP115 .

56. I would respectfully adopt the view taken in Sukhdeo's case : AIR1951All667 .

57. My answer to the question referred to us, therefore, is in the affirmative.

BY COURT:

58. In view of opinion of the majority ofus, we answer the question referred to us in theaffirmative.

FINAL ORDER

Broome, J.

59. These contempt proceedings w.ere initiated on the complaint of Sri Ram Saran Tewari, Sarpanch of the Nyaya Panchayat of Mukimpur Shahganj (Tahsil Bikapur, district Faizabad), in respect of a news item appearing in a. weekly newspaper of Faizabad called 'Jai Swadesh', of which Raj Bahadur Varma opposite party No. 1 is the editor and Ved prakash opposite party No. 2 the publisher. This news item alleged that cases were being decided by the Nyaya Panchayat concerned in favour of those persons who belonged to the same party as the Sarpanch, whereas per-sons belonging to the opposite faction who happened to appear in cases before that Nyaya Panchayat were being marked absent even though they might be present.

60. The publisher Ved Prakash has tendered am unconditional apology, pleading that he has published the news item as a matter of course without being aware that it constituted contempt of court. The editor Raj Bahadur Varma, on the other hand, has put forward the plea of justification, claiming that the facts alleged are perfectly true and that as the editor of a 'responsible local journal' he considered it his duty to give publicity to the facts in order that the grievances of the public might be redressed.

61. In the beginning it was suggested that Nyaya Panchayats were not courts subordinate to the High Courts within the meaning of Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act; but the controversy on this point has now been set at rest by a Full Bench decision in which it has been held that the expression 'courts subordinate to the High Court' means courts which are subject to the superintendence of the High Court under Article 227 of the Constitution and includes Nyaya Panchayats.

62. Coming to the merits of the case, there can be no doubt that the news item in question. constitutes contempt inasmuch as it scandalises the Nyaya Panchayat by suggesting that it has been deciding cases unjustly f'or improper motives.

63. An attempt has been made to argue that Nyaya Panchayats being elective in character, cannot be placed on a par with regular courts of law in the matter of contempt; but it seems to me that every court, whether elected or appointed by some other method, is entitled to protection against scurrilous attacks, for otherwise it cannot be expected to administer justice fairly and fearlessly. Nyaya panchayats as at present constituted no doubt have many shortcomings and have been subjected to criticism from very high quarters; but the fact remains that they are part of the hierarchy of Courts established by law in this country and so long as they continue to function they must be held to be entitled to the privilege that all Courts enjoy of being immune from attacks that tend to scandalise them or undermine their dignity and prestige. The suggestion was thrown out during arguments that the offending news item was part of an election campaign, as the Nyaya Panchayat concerned was due to be reconstituted after fresh elections had been held; but there is no such sugestion in the affidavits filed by the opposite parties and in any case neither of the opposite parties resides within the jurisdiction of the Panchayat so as to be able to claim any personal interest in such an election, both of them being residents of Faizabad town. Nor am I prepared to concede that an election campaign can confer a license to commit contempt of court. If there was any genuine cause for dissatisfaction with the Nyaya Panchayat or its Sarpanch, the persons aggrieved could legitimately make a complainis to the S. D. M. or the District Magistrate or the State Government with a view to having action taken against the offending members under Section 95 of the U. P. Panchayat Raj Act; but it was certainly not open to them to ventilate their grievances in the columns of a ne.wpaper to be read by all and sundry.

64. Both the opposite parties Raj Bahadur Varma and Ved Prakash are therefore held guilty under Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act of having committed contempt of the Nyaya Panchayat of Mukhimpur Shahganj. Since Ved Prakash submitted an unconditional apology at the earliest opportunity I do not propose to take any action against him but release him with an admonition. Raj Bahadur Varma on the other hand has attempted to justify the contempt committed by him and his case cannot be dealt with so lightly; but in view of the uncertainty that existed at the time when the offence was committed with regard to the applicability of the law of contempt to Nyaya panchayats, I shall impose only a small fine. He is accordingly fined Rs. 50/- and in addition will be liable for the costs of the Government Advocate assessed at Rs. 80/-. (I may remark in parenthesis that I would have awarded costs to the petitioner too, but cannot do so as he hag lost his life during the pendency of (these proceedings). One month is allowed for payment of the fine and costs. In default of payment of the fine, Raj Bahadur Varma will undergo 2 weeks' imprisonment.


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