N.U. Beg, J.
1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India by one Jagdish Gandhi. The opposite-parties in this petition are:--
1. Legislative Council, Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, through its Chairman,
2. Chairman, Legislative Council, U. P., Lucknow,
3. Marshal, Legislative Council, U. P. Lucknow, and
4. The State of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow.
2. The allegations made by the petitioner in the writ petition are that he is the Manager of the City Montessori School. Lucknow, having branches all over the city and that about 2,500 children are studying in the various branches of the City Montessori School, apart from 50 trainees who are receiving teachers' training This institution is recognised by the Government of Uttar Pradesh, and has a very good reputation throughout the State of Uttar Pradesh. The petitioner has further alleged that Smt. Savitri Shyam, a member of the Legislative Council, U. P., (hereinafter referred to as 'the House'), delivered a speech in the Mouse on February 18, 1965, bitterly criticising the petitioner's institution. Reports of this speech wore published in various newspapers. Annexure 1 filed with the writ petition is a copy of the report published in the National Herald of February 19. Annexure 1 is reproduced as follows:--'Mrs. Savitri Shyam, M.L.C. (Congress).
Criticising the education department she said that chains of Montessori Schools had been allowed to be opened in the city, which were purely commercial concerns, These schools were exploiting women teachers. Music and dance teachers of these so-called Montessori Schools were made to sing and dance at private functions and detained! till late in the night, she added. Government grants given to these schools were mere waste. She requested the Government to smash this racket immediately.' Annexure 2 is a copy of another report, dated the 19th February 1965, published in the Swatantra Bharat in respect of the same speech.
3. In the writ petition the petitioner has alleged that after reading the said reports of the speech delivered by the said Smt. Savitri Shyam in the House, the petitioner sent one Sri Yamuna Prasad Tripathi to Smt. Savitri Shyam on February 20, 1.965, to seek clarification of the subject-matter of her speech, and to remove her doubt about the Montessori institution referred to in her speech. Sri Yamuna Prasad Tripathi, after meeting Smt. Savitri Shyam, came back to the petitioner and informed him that she (Smt. Savitri Shyam) did not listen to him, and that she re-asserted what she had already said in the House. Thereafter, the petitioner wrote a letter to Smt. Savitri Shyam on the 24th February 1965. A copy of this letter has been filed with the writ petition, and is marked as Annexure 3. Annexure 3 is a long letter sent by the petitioner, Jagdish Gandhi, Manager, Montessori School, Lucknow, to Smt. Savitri Shyam. It is dated the 24th February 1965.
It purports to have been signed by four persons. It also contains a verification clause by the petitioner, Jagdish Gandhi, as Manager, City Montessori School, Lucknow, to the effect that the averments contained in the said letter are entirely correct. This letter is addressed to Smt. Savitri Shyam, M.A., LL.B., M.L.C., Darulshafa, B Block, Lucknow. It opens with the statement that on the 18th February 1965, the addressee had 'levelled false accusations' against the City Montessori School in Vidhan Parishad. Altogether seven charges have been mentioned seriatim, and answer to the said charges has been sought to be given in the said letter. Reply to charge No. 3 in the said letter includes the following statement:--
'The charge levelled against your own sisters by you does not befit you. You are probably under the impression that dignity and respect is only the privilege of the lady legislators. The baseless charge of this nature levelled by you against the lady teachers of this institution rendering social service does not befit a lady of your position.'
Further in reply to charge No. 4, the letter contains the following averment:--
'It does not befit you in so far that a lady like you, educated, learned, having legal knowledge and being a respectable legislator gives speeches without knowing the true state of affairs.'
After replying to the charges referred to in the said letter, it closes with the following statement:--
'Dear sister, if you do not send a proper reply within three days of the receipt of this letter, our workers will stage a hunger-strike at your door to establish the truth, and copies of this letter will be distributed among the Hon'ble members of Vidhan Parishad, You may understand the true facts, and, keeping in view the truth, you may ask for pardon through newspapers or in the Vidhan Parishad, while contradicting the previous statement.'
After receiving the said letter on the 24th February 1965, Smt. Savitri Shyam moved a motion for breach of privilege in the House on the 25th February 1965. On the same day the House referred the matter to the Committee of Privileges of the House. The petitioner was summoned by the said Committee of Privileges and appeared before it on the 25th March 1965. The Committee also took evidence of the petitioner on the said date. Thereafter on the 25th September 1965, the petitioner received a notice from the House under the signature of Sri P. S. Pachauri, the Secretary of the House, to the effect that he should present himself in the House on the 30th September 1965, at 12.30 P.M. to receive the punishment of reprimand in respect of the breach of privilege of Smt. Savitri Shyam. A copy of this notice is filed along with the petition, and is marked as Annexure 4.
In the supplementary affidavit filed with the writ petition it is alleged that the new Committee of Privileges was formed after the 16th May 1965, and that the report in respect of the matter was submitted by the new Committee. The petitioner has further alleged that he did not present himself before the House on the 30th September 1965, and, instead of doing so, he sent a representation to the House one day earlier, that is, on the 29th September 1965, for a reconsideration of the matter by the House. The application sent by the petitioner to the House in this regard is filed as Annexure 5 along with the writ petition. The petitioner having not attended the House on the 30th September 1965, as required by the notice (Annexure 4), the House passed a resolution directing the Marshal to bring the petitioner under custody to the House, and to produce him before it on the 15th October 1965.
As a result of the said resolution the petitioner apprehends that he may be arrested by the Marshal of the House at any time. In the writ petition the petitioner challenged the proceedings before the Committee of Privileges as well as before the House on a number of grounds. Before us, however, the petitioner pressed only five grounds. They are:--
(1) That Rule 96 (1) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the U. P. Legislative Council (hereinafter called 'the Rules') was contravened in the present case.
(2) That Rule 75 (1) of the Rules was contravened.
(3) That the House did not possess any power to commit the petitioner for contempt.
(4) That there was- a breach of the principles of natural justice in the present case, and
(5) That, in any case, the facts alleged didnot amount to a breach of privilege of theHouse.
4. The prayers in the writ petition are as follows :--
'(a) A writ in the nature of certiorari be issued quashing the finding of the privilege committee and the decision of the House to reprimand the petitioner,
(b) A writ in the nature of mandamus directing the opposite-parties not to implement the decision of the House, dated 30-9-1965 directing the Marshal that the petitioner be brought under custody before the House on 15-10-1965, and further directing them not to punish the petitioner either by themselves or through any of their subordinates or persons appointed by them in this behalf; and
(c) Any other order or direction which the Hon'ble Court deems fit in the circumstances of the case be also issued.'
It may be mentioned at this stage that although the petitioner has prayed for quashing the finding of the Committee of Privileges and has further challenged the validity of the constitution of the said Committee, he has not impleaded either the previous Committee or the freshly constituted Committee as an opposite-party in his writ petition.
5. A copy of this application was served on the learned Standing Counsel .who accepted it on behalf of opposite-party No. 4. Before. however, admitting the petition and issuing notice against opposite-parties Nos. 1 to 3 we considered it desirable to hear the petitioner on the question of admission of the writ petition. The matter was argued at great length before us by the learned Counsel for the petitioner. We have also had the benefit of hearing exhaustive arguments on behalf of opposite-party No. 4 by Sri Shanti Bhushan.
6. Having heard the matter at length and given our earnest consideration to all the five points urged before us on behalf of the petitioner, we are of opinion that no prima facie case has been made out on behalf of the petitioner to enable us to issue a notice to the opposite-parties.
7. The first argument of the learned Counsel for the petitioner was that Rule 96 (1) of the Rules has, been contravened in the present case. Rule 96 (1) runs as follows:--
'96 (1). Where the Council has not fixed any time for the presentation of the report, the report shall be presented within two months of me date on which reference to the Committee was made: Provided that the Council may at any time, on a motion being made, direct that the time for the presentation of the report by a Committee be extended to a date specified in the motion.'.
In the present case the motion for breach of privilege was passed by the House on the 25th February 1965, and was referred to the Committee of Privileges on the same day, In paragraph 3 of the supplementary affidavit filed on behalf of the petitioner it is stated that in the present case the House had not fixed any time for the presentation of the report by the Committee or Privileges to the House. Accordingly, two months' time prescribed by the main portion of Rule 96 (1) expired on the 25th April 1965.
8. It is further stated before us that the report was presented by the Committee of Privileges on the 17th September 1965 The said date is not mentioned in the affidavit or in the supplementary affidavit filed with the writ petition but was given to us orally by the learned Counsel for the petitioner. In view of the above facts, the argument of the learned Counsel for the petitioner was that there has been a contravention of Rule 96 (1) in the present case.
9. Before dealing with the legal question arising in the case, it would be necessary to ascertain whether, as a matter of fact, any motion was passed by the House in the present case for extension of two months' time which is allowable to the Committee of Privileges under Rule 96 (1) of the Rules in cases in which no date is fixed by the House for the presentation of report to it. The argument of the learned Counsel for the petitioner was that no such resolution for extension of time was ever passed by the House. On making an enquiry as to whether there was a clear averment in any of the affidavits filed by the petitioner to that effect the learned Counsel relied on the following statement in paragraph 3 of the supplementary affidavit:--
'No motion was brought in the House, on the expiry of two months from the date of reference, for extension of time.'
When the learned Counsel drew our attention to this paragraph at the time of presentation of the writ petition several days ago, we referred the learned Counsel to the verification clause of the said affidavit, according to which this paragraph is not verified true to the personal knowledge of the deponent only as true to his belief based on the information supplied to him by Sri Gopal Narain Saxena, M.L.C., who was a member of the previous Committee of Privileges. In spite or the fact that the attention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner was drawn to this fact several days ago, no affidavit has so far been filed verifying the correctness of this assertion on personal knowledge of Sri Gopal Narain Saxena or any other person. Under the circumstances, it is not possible to hold that the averment relied on on behalf of the petitioner that the House had never passed any motion for extension of time has been established by any such material on- record as can be considered to be satisfactory or reliable in law.
10. Even supposing for a moment that the statement contained in paragraph 3 is considered to be correct, it is not tantamount to a clear averment to the effect that no motion for extension of time was ever passed by the House. The averment contained therein is only to the effect that no such motion was brought in the House 'on the expiry of the months from the date of reference.' This statement is not quite clear. It is possible to argue that this statement only means that no such motion was brought at the time or soon after the expiry of two months' period. In the present case admittedly a period of seven months had expired between the reference of the motion to the Committee of Privileges and the presentation of the report to the House. A resolution for extension of time could, therefore, have been passed by the House at any time after the 25th April 1965, and before the 17th September 1965, i.e., within a period of five months or even before the expiry of two months from the date of reference. The allegation made in paragraph 3 of the supplementary affidavit does not clearly rule out this possibility. In this situation, we are of opinion that even the question of fact which forms the entire foundation of the legal argument, viz. that no motion of extension was ever passed by the House, is not clearly established in the present case.
11. Realising the above difficulty on this aspect of the case, the sole question of law that was seriously pressed by the learned Counsel for the petitioner before us was that a motion for extension can be passed by the House only before the expiry of two months after the date of reference and not thereafter. Having heard the learned Counsel for the parties on this point, We find it difficult to uphold this contention. We are of opinion that the proviso I appended to Rule 96 (1) is sufficiently wide to enable the House to pass a resolution for extension of time at any time prior to the date of the presentation of, the report by the Committee. The use of the expression 'at any time' in the said proviso, in our opinion, clearly points to the conclusion that it is open to the House to pass a resolution for extension of time even after the expiry of two months from the date of reference, provided that the said resolution is passed before the date of presentation of the report.
The acceptance of the argument of the learned Counsel for the petitioner would mean the addition of the words 'within two months of the date on which reference to the Committee was made' after the expression 'at any time' in the said proviso. It would not be proper to add words not found in the said proviso, and, on the plain wording of the proviso as it stands, we are of opinion that it is capable of one and one interpretation only, namely that the resolution could be passed even after the expiry of a period of two months prescribed by the main portion of the Rule, so long as the said resolution was passed before the date of presentation of the report. This view would also find support from the decision of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in the case of M. S. M. Sharma v. Sim Krishna Sinha : AIR1959SC395 , to be cited presently.
12. Further, on behalf of opposite-party No. 4, it was also argued before us that this is a matter of internal management and it is not open to the petitioner who is an outsider to take advantage of any such alleged irregularity, or to question the validity of the proceedings of the Committee in Court on this ground, strong reliance in support of this aspect of the case was placed on behalf of the State on the decision of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Sharma's case : AIR1959SC395 . This case not only repels the argument of the learned Counsel for the petitioner on the question of interpretation of Rule 96 (1) but also lays down that the plea of internal management by itself provides a good shield against all attacks of this nature on the internal proceedings of the House. In this case their Lordships were dealing with the interpretation of the second proviso to Rule 215 (1) of the Bihar Legislative Assembly Rules. This proviso runs as follows:--
'Provided further that the House may at any time, on a motion being made, direct that the time for presentation of the report by the Committee be extended to a date specified in the motion.'
Dealing with the said proviso appended to Rule 215 (1) of the Bihar Legislative Assembly Rules which corresponds to Rule 96 (1) of the U. P. Rules, Das, C. J. speaking for the majority in the said case observed as follows:--
'The next argument founded on non-compliance with the rules is based on Rule 215. Clause (i) of that rule provides that the Committee of Privileges should meet as soon as may be after the question has been referred to it and from time to time thereafter till a report is made within the time fixed by the House. In this case the House admittedly did not fix a time within which the report was to be made by the Committee of Privileges. This circumstance immediately attracts the proviso, according to which where the House does not fix any time for the presentation of the report, the report has to be presented within one month of the date on which the reference to the Committee was made. Learned advocate for the petitioner argues that one month's time had long gone past and, therefore, the Committee of Privileges became functus officio and cannot, under the rules, proceed with the reference. There is no substance in this contention, because the second proviso to Clause (i) of Rule 215 clearly provides that the House may at any time on a motion being made direct that the time for the presentation of the report by the Committee be extended to a date specified in the motion. The words 'at any time' occurring in the second proviso quite clearly indicate that this extension of time may be within the time fixed by the House or, on its failure to do so, within the time fixed by the first proviso or even thereafter,' but before the report is actually made or presented to the House (cf. Har Narain Singh v. Chaudhrain Bhagwant Kuar, 18 Ind App 55 at p. 58 (PC).)
Further, the question of time within which the Committee of Privileges is to make its report to the House is a matter of internal management of the affairs of the House and a matter between the House and its Committee and confers no right on the party whose conduct is the subject-matter of investigation and this is so particularly when the House has the power to extend time 'at any time'.'
The above observations fully support the contention advanced by the learned Counsel for the State both on the question of interpretation as well as on the plea of the immunity of matters relating to internal management from attack in a Court of Law.
13. The learned Counsel for the petitioner, however, argued that there is a difference between the phraseology of Rule 215 of the Bihar Legislative Assembly which was the subject-matter of consideration by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in the above case and Rule 96 (1) of the U. P. Council Rules, in so far as in the Bihar Assembly Rule, the time specified in the rules for presentation of report by the Committee in the absence of fixation of time by the House is contained in the first proviso whereas the said matter is dealt with in the U. P. Rule under the main portion of the rule. We do not think that this difference in the arrangement of the matter would make any substantial difference in the interpretation to be placed on the meaning of the relevant proviso.
In the present case we are concerned with the question of extension of time. It is to be noted, that in both the Bihar as well as in the corresponding U. P. Rule the provision for extension of time is contained in the proviso appended to the rule--it being the second proviso in the former and the first proviso in the latter. Both the provisos, except for necessary changes, are worded in identical terms. The relevant words used in both the provisos are ''at any time', and, while interpreting the Bihar rule in the said case, their Lordships were concerned with the meaning of the same expression in the same setting. We are, therefore, of opinion that the reasoning of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Sharma's case, AIR 1939 SC 395, would be fully applicable to the present case as well.
14. Another ground urged by the learned Counsel for the petitioner was that the view taken by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Sharma's case : AIR1959SC395 , is open to question, as in the said case their Lordships did not look at the matter from the point of view of Article 212 of the Constitution of India. So far as we are concerned, it is enough for us to refer to Article 141 of the Constitution of India, which lays down that the law declared by the Supreme Court will be binding on all Courts within the territory of India. Under these circumstances, we are of opinion that the contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner in this regard cannot be accepted.
15. In the end, the learned counsel for the petitioner strongly relied on a case of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Strawboard . v. Gutta Mill Workers' Union : (1953)ILLJ186SC . The facts of this case are that there was an Industrial dispute between the appellant Company and its employees under the U, P. Industrial Disputes Act (Act XXVTII of 1947). The Governor had referred the said dispute to the Adjudicator for his award under the said Act, and had fixed the 5th April 1950, as the date by which time the award should be submitted. The award, however, was not submitted till the 13th April 1950, i.e., eight days after the expiry of the date fixed for the submission of the award. Thirteen days after the delivery of the award, i.e., on the 26th April 1950, the Governor passed an order extending the time for delivery of the award up to the 30th April 1950. The important point to note in this connection is that their Lordships of the Supreme Court in the said case observed that there was no provision in the U. P. Industrial Disputes Act empowering the State Government to extend the time for making the award by the Adjudicator.
In the present case there is express provision in the proviso to Rule 96 (1) empowering the House to extend the time for the presentation of the report. In the case cited, in the absence of any provision in the U. P. Industrial Disputes Act empowering the Government to extend time, reliance was sought to be placed on Section 21 of the U. P. General Clauses Act. While considering the effect of Section 21 of the U. P. General Clauses Act on the facts of the case before them, their Lordships observed that 'this power to specify the time does not and indeed cannot include a power to extend the time already specified in an earlier order.' Further they observed that where an authority is given power to fix time in respect of a matter, it has no inherent power to extend time in respect of the same. None of these observations of their Lordships of the Supreme Court made in the above case can apply to the present case in view of the fact that there is an express provision in the proviso appended to Rule 96 (1) entitling the House to pass a motion for extension of period of submission of the report by the Committee of Privileges. The above case relied on by the learned counsel for the petitioner is, therefore, clearly distinguishable and can be of no avail to him.
16. For the above reasons, we are of opinion that there is no substance in the first contention advanced by the learned Counsel for the petitioner. We must, therefore, overrule it,
17. The second contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner before us was that in the present case Rule 75 (1) (b) is contravened. The relevant portion of Rule 75 provides as follows:--
'75 (1) At the commencement of the first session of every calendar year, the Chairman shall nominate-
(b) a Committee of Privileges, with the Chairman as Its Chairman, to examine a complaint about breach of privilege referred to It and to recommend remedies or punishments for the breach, if any.'
18. In the present case the argument of the learned Counsel for the petitioner is that a Committee of Privileges was constituted for 1964-65. In paragraph 4 of the supplementary affidavit it is stated that the first session of the House began on the 8th February 1965, and concluded on the 30th April 1965. The names of the members of the Committee of Privileges which was constituted for 1964-65 are given in paragraph 5 of the writ petition. In the present case the motion for breach of privilege was referred to the Committee on the 25th February 1965. The Committee to which reference was made summoned the petitioner and took his evidence on the 25th March 1965. According to the averment contained in the supplementary affidavit, the new Committee was constituted after the 15th May 1.965. The names of the members of the new Committee are given in paragraph 7 of the writ petition. It would appear that only five out of 11 members of the previous Committee were also members of the now Committee. The remaining six members of the new Committee were fresh . members. The report containing the recommendations of the Committee was submitted by the new Committee, and was approved by the House on the 17th September 1965.
19. On the above facts the argument of the learned Counsel for the petitioner is that the new Committee of Privileges which submitted its recommendation to the House was not validly constituted as it was not formed 'at the commencement of the first session'. It is argued that the Chairman has power to constitute a Committee of Privileges only at the commencement of the first session and not thereafter. According to the learned counsel, the lime specified in Rule 75 (1) for the appointment of the Committee of Privileges is a mandatory provision of law. The slightest deviation from the time specified therein deprives the Chairman altogether of his power to appoint a Committee with the result that if the Chairman appoints a Committee after the commencement of the session, the Committee thus formed cannot be said to be validly constituted.
20. In reply to this argument on behalf of the petitioner a two-fold answer is given on behalf of the State. In the first place it is argued that reference to time in the opening part of Rule 75 is merely a directory and not a mandatory provision. Secondly, it is argued that, in any case, this is a matter of internal management and is immune from scrutiny by Courts of law. So far as the first argument is concerned, it is submitted that, no doubt, the said rule has used the word 'shall'. The use of the word 'shall', however, does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the provision of law in respect of which ft is used is a mandatory one.
The question as to whether the word 'shall' in a provision of law is to be construed as having a mandatory or a directory effect would depend on the nature of the authority in respect of which the word 'shall' is used, the object of the legislature in making the said provision, the purpose which the said provision was intended to sub-serve, the inconvenience which might result in construing it one way or the other, and various other considerations, such as the presence or absence of a provision to the effect that in case of non-compliance with the requirement in question the relative act itself would be vitiated or certain consequences of a penal nature would follow Bearing in mind the above considerations, it was argued on behalf of the State that the provision regarding the specification of time in Rule 75 (1) is merely a directory one. Having heard the learned counsel for the parties, we are of opinion that there is force in the contention advanced on behalf of the State in this regard,
21. It would be relevant in this connection to refer to the Rules which indicate the purpose of the constitution of the Committee of Privileges and the limited scope of its functions and powers. A reference to these Rules shows that the Committee of Privileges is merely a limb of the House. It is created by the House to facilitate the transaction of business by it. Its appointment at the earliest opportunity is recommended as it is for the benefit of the House and in its interest.
22. The question of breach of privilege is initiated in the House by a member drawing the attention of the House to the matter (vide Rule 223). The permission to make such a motion is accorded by the House as provided in Rule 226. If the House grants leave, then under Rule 227 the member may move that the matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges or he discussed and decided upon forthwith. The matter is referred to the Committee of Privileges only if the House chooses to do so. Rule 75 (1) (b) indicates that the power of a Committee of Privileges is confined merely to making recommendation of remedies or punishments for the breach, if any. To enable the Committee to submit its recommendations to the House the Committee is invested with certain powers of investigation. Under Rule 91 the Committee has power to summon a witness and to call for production of such documents as are required by it. Under Rule 92 the Committee has power to send for persons, papers and records.
Under Rule 93 the Committee can make a special report to the House on any matter that comes to light in course of its work. Rule 95 lays down the procedure for the examination of witnesses by the Committee. Rule 95 cm-powers the Committee to appoint one or more sub-committees to report on any particular matter. Rules 96 and 97 deal with the manner of preparation and method of presentation of the report by the Committee to the. House. Rule 229 lays down that the report may be presented to the House by a motion on the part of any member giving notice of his intention to move that the Council agrees with the recommendation of the Committee. Thereupon time is allotted for the discussion of the motion. Under Sub-rule (2) of Rule 229 it is open to any member to move may amendment to the recommendation made by the Committee, and under Sub-rule (3) it is open to the Chairman to issue directions to regulate the consideration of the motion by the Council.
23. The above provisions clearly indicate that the Committee of Privileges is merely an investigating agency created by the House and appointed on its behalf to do all the spade work, and to prepare ground for action by the House. It does all the routine work and then examines the case and makes its recommendations to the House. Its recommendations are not binding on the House. The House may accept, modify or even reject them. The Committee of Privileges is thus merely an advisory body. Its report is placed before the House to help it in arriving at its own decision. The preliminary investigation conducted by the Committee of Privileges enables the House to dispose of the matter expeditiously thereby saving its time.
In its absence the House may itself have to waste its time in doing all the preliminary work of investigation and examination which could very well be done on its behalf by the Committee of Privileges. The Committee of Privileges being a smaller body can deal with the matter more quickly, It would, therefore, appear that the purpose of the direction contained in Rule 75 to the Chairman to constitute the Committee at the very commencement of the session is to see that the facility provided by the Committee of Privileges is available to the House from the very beginning of the session. The direction regarding time in the above provision is for the benefit and convenience of the House, being in its own interest. This consideration, it is argued, would support the inference that the reference to time in Rule 75 is merely of a directory nature.
24. Another factor that supports the same conclusion is that there is no provision anywhere in the Rules to the effect that non-compliance with the direction regarding time or the failure to appoint a Committee of Privileges at the commencement of the session would have the consequence of divesting the Chairman of his power of appointment altogether with the result that any appointment made subsequently would be invalid. It is conceded that both the previous as well as the new Committee were the Committees of the same House. It is also conceded that the Chairman who appointed both the Committees was the Chairman of the same House. Rule 78 (iii) provides that casual vacancies could be filled by the Chairman timing the period. Under the circumstances, it is difficult to accept that the intention of the Rule makers was that any accidental lapse on the part of the Chairman resulting in his failure to constitute the Committee at the commencement of the first session would deprive him altogether of the power to nominate the Committee.
If the purpose of the Rule-makers, in providing the Committee of Privileges was to promote the convenience of the House, as it appears to be so, then the result of interpreting this provision as a mandatory one would be to defeat the very object of the Rule-makers. It may also be noticed in this connection that this requirement is a matter of purely internal proceeding which governs the relation between the House and its agent, namely the Committee of Privileges. In other words, it is merely a matter; of internal management. So far as an outsider is concerned, he is not at all affected by the time of the appointment of the Committee, nor is mere any provision in these Rules indicating that any breach regarding the rule relating to internal management would give a cause of action to an outsider so as to enable him to question the validity of the proceedings of the Committee in this regard. Moreover, the final decision in tie matter is taken by the House, and it is difficult to understand how any irregularity at the investigation stage of a matter y a subordinate agency can have the effect of vitiating the final decision given at the conclusion or the trial stage by the adjudicating authority.
25. We may now refer to some cases of the Supreme Court which support the line of reasoning indipated above. The principles of interpretation governing the determination of the meaning of the word 'shall' in a provision of law are exhaustively discussed by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in the case of The State of Uttar Pradesh v. Manbodhan Lal Srivastava : (1958)IILLJ273SC . In this case their Lordships of the Suprerne Court had to consider the meaning of the word 'shall' as used in Article 320(3) of the Constitution of India, which provides that the Union Public Service Commission or the State Public Service Commission, as the case may be, shall be consulted on certain matters specified in Clauses (a) to (e) thereafter. Clause (e) relates to disciplinary matters affecting a person in the service of the Government or India or the Government of a State.
In this case, one Manbodhan Lal Srivastava was demoted and compulsorily retired without full compliance with the said requirement. Manbodhan Lal Srivastava, therefore, filed a writ petition challenging the validity of the order of his demotion and compulsory retirement on this ground. Their Lordships of the Supreme Court in the above case held that the word 'shall' in the aforementioned provision of law should be construed to be merely directory and not mandatory. One of the reasons given by their Lordships for interpreting the word 'shall' in a directory sense was the consideration that the Public Service Commission was merely a consultative body and its advice was not binding on the Government. Their Lordships have put this matter thus:--
'If the opinion of the Commission were binding on the Government, it may have been argued with greater force that non-compliance with the rule for consultation would have been fatal to the validity of the order proposed to be passed against a public servant. In the absence of such a binding character, it is difficult to see how non-compliance with the provisions of Article 320(3)(o) could have the effect of nullifying the final order passed by the Government.'
In a way the Public Service Commission was an independent organ of the State and had the status of a consultative body. The Committee of Privileges is, as observed by us above, merely a limb or the House, or its agent and does not even possess that status. It, therefore, stands on a weaker footing. The above consideration, therefore, applies with greater force to the present case.
26. The second consideration that weighed with their Lordships was that there was nothing in the Constitution providing that the non-compliance with the said provision would result in invalidating the proceedings. On this point their Lordships expressed themselves as follows:--
'The question may be looked at from another point of view. Does the Constitution provide for the contingency as to what is to happen in the event of non-compliance with the requirements of Article 320(3)(c) It does not, either in express terms or by implication provide that the result of such a non-compliance is to invalidate the proceedings ending the final order of the Government.
This aspect of the relevant provisions of Part XIV of the Constitution, has a direct bearing on the question whether Article 320 is mandatory'.
The above consideration is also fully applicable to the present case.
27. Thereafter their Lordships of the Supreme Court referred to the following passage in the judgment of their Lordships of the Privy Council in the case of Montreal Street Rly. Co. v. Normandin, 1.917 AC 170, with approval:--
'..... .The question whether provisions in it statute are directory or imperative has very frequently arisen in this country, but it has been said that no general rule can be laid down, and that in every case the object of the statute must be looked at. The cases on the subject will be found collected in Maxwell on Statutes, 5th ed. page 596 and following pages, When the provisions of a statute relate to the performance of a public duty and the case is such that to hold mm and void acts done in neglect of this duty would work serious general inconvenience, or injustice to persons who have no control over those entrusted with the duty, and at the same time would not promote the main object of the Legislature, it has been the practice to hold such provisions to be directory only, the neglect of them, though punishable, hot affecting the validity of the acts done.
'The principle laid down in this case was adopted by the Federal Court in the case of Bishwanath Khemka v. Emperor . In that case, the Federal Court had to consider the effect of non-comliance with the provisions of Section 256 of the Government of India Act, 1935, requiring consultation between public authorities before the conferment of magisterial powers or of enhanced magisterial powers, etc.
'The Court repelled the contention that the provisions of Section 256, aforesaid, were mandatory. It was further held that non-compliance with that section would not render the appointment otherwise, regularly and validly made, invalid or inoperative. That decision is particularly important as the words of the section then before their Lordships of the Federal Court, were very emphatic and of a prohibitory character.'
Subsequently, their Lordships quoted with approval the following passage from Crawford on 'Statutory Construction'--Article 281 at p. 516:--
'The question as to whether a statute is mandatory or directory depends upon the intent of the Legislature and not upon the language in which the intent is clothed. The meaning and intention of the Legislature must govern, and these are to be ascertained, not only from the phraseology of the provision, but also by considering its nature, its design and the consequences which would follow from construing it the one way or the other ...'
In the present case, as already shown above, the intention of the rule-makers can be implemented and the object of the above rule sub-served only by interpreting it in a directory sense. Considerations of resulting inconvenience also point in the same direction.
28. Their Lordships then observed that, in any case, the breach or such a provision would not confer any right on a third person so as to enable him to enforce the same in writ proceedings. The relevant passage runs as follows:--
'We have already indicated that Article 320(3)(c) of the Constitution does not confer any rights on a public servant so that the absence of consultation or any irregularity in consultation, should not afford him a cause of action in a Court of law, or entitle him to relief under the special powers of a High Court under Art, 226 of the Constitution or of this Court under Article 32.'
The law on this point has been summarised by their Lordships or the Supreme Court in Raza Buland Sugar Co. Ltd. v. The Municipal Board, Rampur : 1SCR970 . in the following words:--
'The question whether a particular provision of a statute which on the face of it appears mandatory--inasmuch as it uses the word shall' as in the present case--or is merely directory cannot be resolved by laying down any general rule and depends upon the facts of each case and for that purpose the object of the statute in making the provision is the determining factor. The purpose for which the provision has been made and its nature, the intention of the legislature in making the provision, the serious general inconvenience or injustice to persons resulting from whether the provision is read one way or the other, the relation of the particular provision to other provisions dealing with the same subject and other considerations which may arise on the facts of a particular case including the language of the provision, have all to be taken into account in arriving at the conclusion whether a particular provision is mandatory or directory'.
Bearing in mind the principles laid down by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in the aforementioned cases in regard to the interpretation of the word 'shall' and applying them to the present case, we are of opinion that the requirement regarding time in Rule 75 (1) should be construed to be a directory and not a mandatory provision. Its breach, therefore, can, at the most be considered to be a mere irregularity within the meaning of Article 212(1) of the Constitution of India and not an illegality. It cannot, therefore, have the effect of invalidating the appointment of the Committee itself. Reference in this connection may be made to the following observation of Sinha, C. J. in M. S. M. Sharma. v. Dr. Shree Krishna Sinha : 1SCR96 .
'Secondly, the validity of the proceedings inside the Legislature of a State cannot be called in question on the allegation that the procedure laid down by the law had not been strictly followed. Article 212 of the Constitution is a complete answer to this part of the contention raised on behalf of the petitioner.'
Later on, in the same judgment it is observed as follows:---
'Even though it may not have strictly complied with the requirements of the procedural law laid down for conducting its business, that cannot be a ground for interference by this Court under Article 32 of the Constitution. Courts have always recognised the basic difference between complete want of jurisdiction and improper or irregular exercise of jurisdiction. Mere non-compliance with rules of procedure cannot be a ground for issuing a writ under Article 32 of the Constitution vide Janardan Reddy v. State of Hyderabad : 2SCR344 .'
29. On behalf of the petitioner, learned counsel placed strong reliance on a decision of their Lordships of the Privy Council in Nazir Ahmad v. King Emperor, . In this case, their Lordships of the Privy Council held that the provisions of Sections 164 and 364 of the Code of Criminal Procedure regarding the manner in which the confession of an accused should be recorded by a Magistrate are mandatory. Their Lordships laid special emphasis on the fact that these sections specified with minute particularity the manner in which such confession should be recorded. It is significant to note that this provision of law was enacted in the interest of an accused person and for his benefit. On the other hand, as already observed above, the requirement regarding the time of appointment of the Committee and the direction mat such appointment should be made at the commencement of the session was meant to be in the interest of the House and for its benefit.
Their Lordships further observed in this case that if the conditions laid down in the aforesaid sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure with regard to the manner in which a confession is to be recorded are disregarded, the very purpose of the law in that regard would be defeated. The same cannot be said with regard to the requirement of time prescribed under Rule 75 (1) of the Rules. On the other hand, if this requirement is construed to be a mandatory provision of law, then the result would be that the Chairman would be divested of his power to nominate a fresh Committee at a subsequent stage, thereby defeating the very purpose for which this rule was framed. This case, therefore, does not appear to lend support to the contention of the learned counsel.
30. Secondly, learned counsel on behalf of the State argued that, in the alternative, the plea regarding the immunity of matters relating to Internal management from scrutiny by Courts of law itself provides a complete answer to this argument. This plea was accepted by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Sharma's case, : AIR1959SC395 , in which they held that the question of time under the Bihar Rule corresponding to Rule 96 (1) of the U. P. Rule was a matter of internal management of the affairs of the House and a matter between me House and the Committee and confers no right on the party whose conduct is the subject-matter of investigation. It may be noted that the question of time in the said rules was in the nature of a prescription of limitation. On the other hand, time specified in Rule 75 for the appointment of a Committee by the Chairman does not obviously lay down any rule of limitation. It is merely a point of time at which the Chairman is directed to exercise his authority with regard to the formation of a Committee to enable the business of the House to be transacted in the course of the session more efficiently and expeditionary. The above remarks would, therefore, apply with much greater force in the present case.
31. Reliance in this connection was also placed on behalf of the State on the following observation in the case of : 1SCR96 :--
'No Court can go into those questions which are within the special jurisdiction of the Legislature itself, which has the power to conduct its own business.'
32. For the above reasons, we are of opinion that the argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner that there has been a breach of any mandatory provision of law with regard to Rule 75 (1) in the present case must be repelled as being without force.
33. The third contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner was that the power of the House of Commons to commit for contempt had itself not been transferred to the State Legislatures in India under Article 194(3) of the Constitution, The argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner in this regard was that this power was possessed by the House of Commons as a Court of law. The Legislatures in India are not Courts of law. Hence this power cannot be considered to have been transferred to them.
34. We find it difficult to uphold this contention. It cannot be said that the power is primarily a concomitant of law Courts only. In Mays Parliamentary Practice (17th Edition) at p. 92 it is stated:--
'In modern times the indispensability of the power of commitment to any body responsible to public opinion, whether its functions are legislative or judicial, has been amply demonstrated by experience. Being shared by the Courts, it is not an exclusively parliamentary privilege.
'. . .Representative bodies must necessarily vindicate their authority by means of their own, and those means lie in the process of committal for contempt. This applies not to the Houses of Parliament only, but. ..... as was observed in Burdett v. Abbott. (1811) 14 East 1 (138), to the Courts of Justice, which, as well as the Houses, must be liable to continual obstruction and insult, if they were not entrusted with such powers' (Denman, C. J., in case of Sheriff of Middlesex, 3 St. Tr. (n.s.), 1253).''
35. It may be that in its origin the power to commit for contempt was judicial in nature and is reminiscent of the days when the Parliament acted as 'the High Court of Parliament'. This is, however, only a historical aspect of the matter. The question before us does not relate to the origin or nature of the power, nor is any such distinction warranted by the terms of Article 194(3) of the Constitution. What we have to determine is whether this power was actually possessed by the House of Commons on the 26th January 1950, which is the relevant date for our purposes, and is actually transferred to the Legislatures of States through the medium of Article 194(8) of the Constitution of India.
So far as the High Courts in India are concerned, this matter has been set at rest by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Sharma's case : AIR1959SC395 . of the judgment in the said case it has been clearly stated that the Legislative Assembly of Bihar does possess this power, and is entitled to take proceedings for a breach of its privileges. On this point, again, the learned Counsel for the petitioner argued that this view is open to reconsideration, as certain points were not considered by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in this case. As already observed by us, so far as we are concerned, the declaration of law on this point by their Lordships of the Supreme Court is final and unquestionable. This argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner, therefore, has no force and must be rejected.
36. The fourth argument of the learned Counsel for the petitioner is that there has been a breach of the principles of natural justice in the present case. So far as this point is concerned, it is conceded by the learned Counsel that the previous Committee of Privileges was a properly constituted Committee. It Is further conceded by the learned counsel that that Committed did give an opportunity to the petitioner to defend himself. In the petition itself it is stated that the petitioner was called by the Committee on the 25th March 1965, and the evidence of the petitioner was taken down by the Committee on that date. The report of the Committee of Privileges further indicates that the petitioner was given a further opportunity to make any written representation that he liked. The petitioner availed himself of that opportunity also, and submitted a written representation to the Committee of Privileges subsequently. It is also stated in the writ petition itself that the petitioner submitted a written representation to the House also for a reconsideration of the matter. In this situation, it cannot be said that the petitioner was not given any opportunity to defend himself. It is nowhere alleged even in the writ petition that the opportunity given to him was an inadequate one. It was not even alleged that the petitioner was prejudiced in any manner on this score.
37. The facts of the case indicate that the question was a very simple one. It depended solely on the question whether the petitioner was responsible for sending Annexure 3 to Shrimati Savitri Shyam. This matter was put by the Committee of Privileges to the petitioner, and the petitioner had taken full responsibility in that regard on himself and had admitted sending the said letter to the member concerned. Even in paragraph 3 of the writ petition the petitioner has admitted this by stating as follows:--
'The petitioner then wrote a letter to Smt. Savitri Shyam on February 24, 1965. Office copy of this letter is annexed to this petition as Annexure 3'.
This statement is verified as true to the personal knowledge of the petitioner in his affidavit. Under the circumstances, the question whether the sending of a letter like Annexure 3 to a member of the House was tantamount to a breach of privileges of the member of the House was only a matter of inference from the contents of the letter. At this stage it would be relevant to refer to a passage at p. 138 of May's Parliamentary Practice (17th Edition). The said passage runs as follows:--
'It has been objected that to adjudge that the offence has been committed before hearing the accused party is a very serious deviation from the common course of criminal justice. . . As however, the question whether, the writing is defamatory can, in most cases, be determined from the terms of the document without recourse to the extrinsic evidence, and as the falsity of the libel is not an essential element of the offence, if the defamatory character of the writing is apparent on its face, no explanation which might be offered would alter the decision of the House on that point, though it might materially influence the House in deciding what punishment, if any, to inflict upon the parties responsible for the publication.'
In view of the above circumstances, it must be held that adequate opportunity was given to the petitioner to defend himself and that the principle of natural justice was not contravened in the present case.
38. The further contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner in this regard was that the Committee of Privileges which had sent the recommendation to the House was not the same as that which had recorded his evidence. His argument in this connection was that the authority recording the evidence has the advantage of watching the demeanour of a person, and that has effect on the finding, arrived at by the said authority. We have already observed above that in a case like the present one nothing turned on the demeanour of the petitioner before the Committee of Privileges, The sole question was as to whether the petitioner had written the letter Annexure 3 to the person concerned, and was responsible for sending the same. Once he had admitted doing it, the question became merely one of inference from his conduct in addressing and sending a letter of that type to a member.
His demeanour before the Committee of Privileges would not have in any way altered the conclusion which the Committee of Privileges or even the House might have arrived at on the merits of the case, Further, in any case, the new Committee was, as observed by us above, merely a recommending authority. It had no power to decide the matter finally. The final decision was to be given by the House. In this situation, we do not think that the mere fact that the recommendation was not made by the Committee that recorded the evidence has such a serious effect as to enable the Court to hold that there has been a breach or the principle of natural justice in the present case.
39. The learned Counsel argued that it is an invariable principle of natural justice that in every case the authority that records the evidence must be the authority that gives the finding, and that it is not open to an authority that has not recorded evidence to even make any recommendation in respect of a matter in which the evidence was recorded by another body. We find it difficult to uphold this contention. The learned Counsel for the petitioner, however, cited some cases in support of his contention. An examination of these cases shows that they are clearly distinguishable.
40. The first case cited by him was Amulya Kumar v. L. M. Bakshi : AIR1958Cal470 . The facts of this case indicate that a departmental, enquiry against the petitioner who was charged with misconduct was entrusted to the Director-in-Charge, Lake Depot, Government of West Bengal. Notice or the date of hearing to the person charged was also issued by the said Director-in-Charge. The petitioner was further directed to be present before the same authority for the purpose of defending himself. On the date appointed, however, the case was not heard by the Director-in-Charge but by another person who was the Superintendent, Lake Depot, On these facts the Court observed that it was wholly improper for the Director-in-Charge to have delegated his duty to some one else, and took the view that the enquiry was not properly conducted.
This case is clearly distinguishable from the present one. In the present case the House had entrusted the matter to the Committee of Privileges. The evidence was recorded by the Committee of Privileges and the recommendation to the House was also made by the Committee of Privileges of the House. The mere fact that the personnel of the Committee making the recommendation was different from the personnel of the Committee recording the evidence would not make any difference in the nature of the body constituted. Both the Committees were the Committees of Privileges of the same House and were appointed for the same purpose, and the recommendations by either of them were open to reconsideration by the same House which was the final deciding authority in the matter,
41. The second case relied on by the learned Counsel was that of Sarba Ranjan Bysack v. Sm. Haripriya Dassi, 53 Cal WN 569. In this case it was held that evidence taken in a suit before a Judge of the Original side of a Chartered High Court who dies before concluding the trial, cannot be used as evidence in a later stage of the suit before another Judge, nor can the latter Judge proceed in the suit from the stage at which the former Judge left it. This case was decided on the basis of the special rules of procedure applicable to a Chartered High Court. These rules are referred to in Order XLIX, Rule 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure which specifies certain exemptions in the case of Chartered High Courts to the general rules of procedure provided in the Code of Civil Procedure. One of those exemptions is the provision contained in Order XVIII, Rule 15, which lays down that
'where a Judge is prevented by death, transfer or other cause from concluding a trial of a suit, his successor may deal with any evidence or memorandum taken down or make under the foregoing rules as if such evidence or memorandum had been taken down or made by him or under his direction under the said rules and may proceed with the suit from that stage at which his predecessor left it,'
The provision, therefore, relied on in the said case was an exemption to the general rule prescribed in Order XVIII, Rule 15 of the Code of Civil Procedure which permits the successor of a Judge to act on the evidence recorded by his predecessor. If the provisions of Order XVIII, Rule 15 are taken to incorporate the principles of natural justice or to serve as a guide for the same, then they cannot be said to have been contravened in the present case. In any case, this case was not based on a consideration of the principles of natural justice, and we cannot see how it can be invoked in the present case.
42. The last case relied on by the learned Counsel for the petitioner in this connection is that of Gullapalli Nageshwara Rao v. Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation : AIR1959SC308 . This case arose out of a notification issued by the State of Andhra Pradesh for the nationalisation of certain bus routes in the said State. The petitioners who operated on some of the bus routes and held permits for the same challenged the proceedings held in respect thereof by an application under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. One of the grounds of challenge was that the provisions of Section 68-D of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (X of 1939) as amended by Act 100 of 1956 read with Rules 8, 9 and 10 framed thereunder which conferred a right of personal hearing on a party filing objections, were not properly complied with by the procedure prescribed and followed in the matter.
In the case before their Lordships personal hearing was given to the party by the Secretary of the Transport Department and the decision was given by the Chief Minister to whom the papers were forwarded and who did not give any personal hearing. The question before their Lordships was whether such a procedure satisfies the requirements of personal hearing as laid down by law. Dealing with this question, their Lordships observed as follows:--
'The second objection is that while the Act and the Rules warned thereunder impose, a duty on the State Government to give a personal hearing, the procedure prescribed by the Rules impose a duty on the Secretary to hear and the Chief Minister to decide. This divided responsibility is destructive of the concept of judicial hearing. Such a procedure defeats the object of personal hearing.'
In the present case no' rule requiring personal hearing is relied upon or referred to, nor can the present case be said to be a case of divided responsibility. In the present case the responsibility for the final decision in the matter rests solely with the House and the House alone, and the Committee of Privileges is, as already observed, only an investigating agency created by the House to help it in the matter by the submission of the report containing its recommendations. It may further be noted that in this case their Lordships also held that even the personal hearing given before the Secretary of the Transport Department, which was the very department which had sought to acquire the transport undertaking, was itself vitiated on the ground of bias. Their Lordships in this connection observed:--
'The hearing given by the Secretary, Transport Department, certainly offends the said principle of natural justice and the proceedings and the hearing given, in violation of that principle, are bad.'
No question of bias arises in the present case, nor is any such ground taken an the writ petition. This case, therefore, has no application to the facts of the present case.
43. The last contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner on this aspect of the case was that he had addressed a letter to the Committee of Privileges on the 27th March, 1965,, and he should have been given a further opportunity to explain the said letter. It would be recollected that the petitioner was summoned by the Committee on the 25th March, 1965, and was' allowed to make a written representation to them. In accordance with the said permission granted by the Committee, the ' petitioner wrote the letter to the Committee by way of representation. This was the letter dated the 27th March, 1965. It is, therefore, difficult to understand how the petitioner can claim an opportunity to defend himself in respect of a letter written by himself in his own defence. At the very outset we may mention that there is no specific, reference to this letter in the body of the writ petition or in the affidavit or even in the supplementary affidavit filed with it.
There is further no grievance on the score that he was not given any opportunity of giving an explanation in respect of the letter dated the 27th March, 1965, or that he had suffered any prejudice as a result thereof. In : AIR1959SC395 it has been held at page 41.2 that a party cannot be allowed to raise any plea which has, not been made the subject-matter of the contents of the writ petition and its affidavit. In this case the pleas of mala fide and bias were sought to be argued before the Supreme Court. Their Lordships held that the said pleas cannot be allowed to be argued as the former was not stated in the petition in the form in which it was sought to be argued, and the latter was stated only in the rejoinder affidavit. It was further observed by their Lordships that even if a plea is stated in the rejoinder affidavit, it cannot be allowed to be argued as it was pleaded at a late stage, especially so when it relates to a question of fact.
44. Apart from this preliminary objection, we are of opinion that the argument has no force on merits as well. The letter written by the petitioner on the 27th March, 1.965, was not the basis of charge against him. The charge related to Annexure-3, that is, the letter written by the petitioner to Smt. Savitri Shyam. In the letter dated the 27th March, 1965, the petitioner had reasserted in a stronger form what he had already written in Annexure 3. It was, therefore, taken into consideration by the Committee merely in the matter of the assessment of the punishment to be recommend ed in respect of the petitioner. It cannot, therefore, be said that the petitioner was entitled to a further opportunity to enable him to explain the said letter. It may further be noted that the petitioner had also addressed a letter to the House subsequently for a reconsideration of the matter, and it was open to him to make any representation that he wanted to make in this connection in the said letter. For the above reasons, we are of opinion that the plea of the petitioner based on a contravention of the principles of natural justice cannot stand and must be rejected.
45. The fifth and the last argument advanced by the learned Counsel for the petitioner was that mere writing of a letter like Annexure 3 would not be tantamount to a breach of privileges of a member of the House The argument of the learned Counsel for the petitioner was that in his letter An. 3 he had merely answered the charges brought against him by Smt. Savitri Shyam, and had stated that his workers would stage a hunger strike to establish the truth of his case. On the other hand, on behalf of the State it was argued that the petitioner did not stop there but were further. Our attention was drawn to the opening portion of the letter in which it was stated that the charges levelled against the petitioner by Smt. Savitri Shyam were false. In the body of the letter also the charges were characterised as baseless. It was further stated that this conduct did not befit the dignity of a respectable legislator. In the end the writer had called upon the lady member to contradict the statements made by her in the House, and to ask for pardon through newspapers, and had threatened that, if she did not do it, the writer would distribute copies of his letter to the Hon'ble members of the Vidhan Parishad.
The above allegations were of an insulting character. They were calculated to intimidate a member of the House and would obviously constitute a breach of privilege. Reference in this connection was made to May's Parliamentary Practice (17th edition) at pages 122-124 in which it is stated that any attempt to influence Members in their conduct by threats is also a breach of privilege. Further, it is also stated that conduct not amounting to a direct attempt to influence a member in the discharge of his duties, but having a tendency to impair his independence in the future performance of his duty, will also be treated as a breach of privilege. At page 124, the following, among other instances of breach of privilege, are enumerated:--
(1). 'Sending insulting letters to Members in reference to their conduct in Parliament or letter reflecting on their conduct as such Members.'
(2) 'Inciting the readers of a newspaper to telephone a Member and complain of a question of which he had given notice.'
46. On behalf of the petitioner we were referred to Straus's case in which a member of the House of Commons had written a letter to a Minister containing remarks reflecting adversely on the management of affairs by the Electricity Board. The Minister had forwarded this letter to the Electricity Board which issued notice of proceedings of libel to be taken against the member. The House of Commons held that this was not a case of a breach of privilege. It would appear that in this case the letter was written by the member in his private capacity, and the view of the House of Commons appeared to be that it was not a part of the proceedings of the House. In the present case the letter which was the foundation of action was directly related to the speech made by a member in the House, and was, therefore, clearly a part of the proceedings of the House. It cannot, therefore, be said in the present case that the action which was the subject-matter of charge cannot be correlated to the proceedings of the House.
Once it is held, as we already have, that the House had jurisdiction to take: proceedings in respect of a breach or privilege of its members and that the action complained of is correlated to the proceedings of the House this Court has no jurisdiction to go into the question as to whether, taking, into consideration the circumstances and evidence adduced in the case, as a matter of fact, breach of privilege was actually committed by a member. This Court does not sit as a Court of appeal over the decisions of the House and cannot act as such. In this connection, it would be relevant to quote the following observations of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Sharma's case : AIR1959SC395 :--
'If the Legislative Assembly of Bihar has the powers and privileges it claims and is entitled to take proceedings for breach thereof, as we hold it is, then it must be left to the Mouse itself to determine whether there has, in fact, been any breach of its privilege. Thus, it will be for the House on . the advice of its Committee of Privileges to consider the true effect of the Speakers directions that certain portions of the proceedings be expunged and whether the publication of the speech, if it has included the portion which had been so directed to be expunged, is, in the eye of the law, tantamount to publishing something which had not been said, and, whether such a publication cannot be claimed to be a publication of an accurate and faithful report of the speech. It will, again, be for the House to determine whether the Speaker's ruling made distinctly and audibly that a portion of the proceedings be expunged amounts to a direction to the Press Reporters not to publish the same, and whether the publication of the speech, if it has included the portion directed to be so expunged is or is not a violation of the order of the speaker and a breach of the privilege of the House amounting to a contempt of the Speaker and the House.'
47. For the above reasons, we are of opinion that the last point urged by the learned Counsel has also no force and must be rejected.
48. At the close of his arguments, learned Counsel for the petitioner made a grievance of the fact that the reputation of the petitioner's institution, which is an educational institution and is rendering public service, was irreparably damaged by the speech of a member and he should have some remedy in this regard. A reference, however, to Clause (2) of Article 194 of the Constitution of India shows that the privilege of a member of the legislature in this regard is absolute, and cannot be questioned in a Court of law. It may be that this might result in certain unfortunate cases in which the reputation of a person might be assailed or damaged as a result thereof. The relief in such cases, however, lies not in resort to Courts of law but in an appeal to the Legislature which is the body authorised to give its verdict in this regard or to the electorate which is the body responsible for the return of members. We, however, think that the very width and the extensive nature of this power should make members of the House realise their own responsibility in this regard, and we have further no doubt that the authority responsible for the conduct of business of the Legislature may exercise his good sense in this respect so as to see that the interests of the public, whose representatives they are are not injured in a matter like this.
49. For the above reasons, we are of opinion that this petition has no substance. We.accordingly dismiss it without issuing anynotice. The stay application is also dismissed.