1. These two applications arise out of certain proceedings before the Assistant Superintendent of the Doon, Mr. Sucha Singh, I.C.S., in a petty case under the Forest Act. The case appears to be one which might well have been tried summarily and disposed of in a few minutes. The accused persons thought otherwise. They engaged two or more counsel, and they set to work to delay the proceedings in every possible way.
2. Their application for transfer of the case both from the Court of Mr. Sucha Singh and from the Dehra Dun District is based, first of all, on the issue of a warrant instead of a summons for one of the accused by Mr. Sucha Singh, and secondly on the proceedings in his Court when the case came up for trial. The issue of the warrant has been explained by Mr. Sucha Singh. The Forest Ranger asked him to issue a warrant on a Sunday; and he accepting the words of the Forest Ranger, as he very well might, issued the warrant. Unfortunately he omitted to add any provision as to bail; but as soon as bail was asked for, he corrected this mistake. No objection was taken to the issue of the warrant when the case came on for hearing, and this grievance has merely been revived in order to obtain an order of transfer. No apprehension that the Court was prejudiced could possibly arise from the incident of the warrant.
3. I now come to the proceeding in Mr. Sucha Singh's Court. This gentleman was called upon to meet the tactics of certain lawyers who attempted from the beginning of the day to irritate him by making requests and applications which were of no value, and in other ways by trying to make him lose his temper. Mr. Sucha Singh preserved his temper throughout in an admirable manner. He showed not the slightest animus against either the accused or their lawyers, and I have no hesitation in saying that if ever any person was before a Court which was entirely unprejudiced and prepared to give justice, it is the case of the present applicants for transfer.
4. The further application that the case should be transferred from the District of Dehra Dun need hardly be considered in view of the fact that the Magistrate is so well fitted to try the case. But the grounds given for this application are that the District Magistrate himself has passed some general orders to the Courts relating to their treatment of counsel. These general orders apply to every case which comes before the Courts in Dehra Dun, and it would be absurd to transfer this particular case on account of those remarks made by the District Magistrate. The application for transfer is accordingly rejected.
5. The second application has been made by a practising lawyer Mr. C.P. Singh, who appeared in this case in the Magistrate's Court. He has asked this Court to expunge certain remarks, which he considers to be detrimental to himself, contained in the order of the District Magistrate refusing to transfer this case from the Court of Mr. Sucha Singh. Mr. Singh, who states that he is a lawyer of 22 years' standing, has represented to this Court, and not unfairly, that these remarks should not have been made against him exparte. I cannot understand why nobody appeared in support of the application for transfer before the District Magistrate, but the fact is that no action was taken on behalf of the applicants after filing the application, except to send the Magistrate a telegram asking him to give a date for hearing. But the Magistrate could not take any action on this telegram, and if anybody wished to be heard in the case, all he had to do was to appear in the District Magistrate's Court and ask to be heard. Consequently I am not able to accept at its face value the objection made by Mr. Singh that the remarks were made ex parte, but on the other hand I do think that he might have been able to explain his conduct in some particulars, and had he done so the Magistrate might have worded some at least of his observations differently.
6. This Court is jealous to protect the counsel who appear before the subordinate Courts from, undue interference in the legitimate exercise of their dudes to their clients, but it is also jealous to protect the Courts from harassing tactics on the part of the said counsel. I would not, therefore, be prepared to expunge any remarks made as to the conduct of counsel even from an ex parte order of the District Magistrate unless I was fully satisfied that the remarks were not deserved.
7. I have been at length into the proceedings in this case and I have considered vary carefully the application made for transfer of the case to the District Magistrate. That application was drafted by Mr. Singh though not actually presented by him, and he must be held to be responsible for the contents of the application. The gist of the complaint against Mr. Sucha Singh appears from the order passed by the District Magistrate, and the observations of the District Magistrate which Mr. Singh seeks to have expunged have been given to this Court in detail and must be considered in detail.
8. The first objection taken deals with a remark made by the District Magistrate in reference to an argument which appears to have taken place in the Court of Mr. Sucha Singh as to whether the case was being tried in a summary manner or not. It appears that Mr. Sucha Singh at first intended to try this as a summary case, and on an objection being made by Mr. Singh he was not prepared in the first instance to alter his intention, but it is perfectly clear that in the course of the examination of the very first witness Mr. Sucha Singh, finding that the case was being defended with great vigour, and having regard perhaps to the fact that a cross case had been filed for illegal confinement by one of the' accused persons, said openly that the case was not being tried in a summary mariner, and he gave effect to this by taking down all the evidence at great length. He also had a vernacular record made of the statements of the accused persons, which would not be done in a summary trial. In the application made to the District Magistrate there are two paragraphs which deal with this question and there can be no doubt that the suggestion is that the case was being tried in a summary manner. That is the only conclusion which I can arrive at from, reading the two paragraphs 4 and 7 of the application for transfer. It is true that it is not definitely said that the Magistrate is wrongly trying this case as a summary case, but it is stated that the Magistrate wanted it to be tried as a summary case, and it is also stated that the counsel were not aware that he was not trying the case as a summary case. The District Magistrate does not believe that anyone thought that the case was being tried as a summary case, and in my opinion the District Magistrate was right in taking this view. Two of the objections cover this question., Nos. 1 and 6 in the list of passages which the applicant seeks to have expunged.
9. The District Magistrate said that he considered it
more probable that it, (meaning by this the allegation that the Magistrate was trying the case in a summary manner) is a deliberate false hood designed to mislead me and to induce me to order a summary transfer,
and later on he said:
Mr. C.P. Singh knows perfectly well that the case is not being tried summarily. He was definitely told by the Court in writing on 2nd June that the proceedings are not summary. I cannot only suppose that this paragraph is intended to mislead me and that the reason why Mr. C. P. Singh's signature is (imperfectly) erased from the application at the place which I have initialed today is that it was on his, and not Mr. Gupta's, application that the Court, on 2nd June, wrote that the proceedings were not summary.
10. The only part of this passage which Mr. Singh can be said to have explained is that dealing with the imperfect erasure of his signature: In that, no doubt, he did nothing wrong. The application was first presented to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate in Dehra Dun and was subsequently sent to Mussoorie for presentation through another counsel. There is nothing to show that Mr. C.P. Singh did not accept full responsibility for every thing said in the application for transfer. But, apart from this mistake made by the Magistrate, which might have been corrected had Mr. Singh chosen to appear before him, I can see nothing in the District Magistrate's comments on this part of the application for transfer which is undeserved.
11. The second remark made by the District Magistrate deals with a question put in cross-examination to the first witness, the Forest Ranger. This question was disallowed by the Court as being a scandalous question. I am saitsfied that it was a scandalous question; and if it was put by Mr. C.P. Singh, he certainly should have known better. The District Magistrate was fully within his right of saying so.
12. I now deal together with objections 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8 made to the District Magistrate's comments, as they all deal with the same incident. After one of the counsel, Mr. Sundar Singh, had been cross-examining the Forest Ranger for three quarters of an hour, Mr. Sucha Singh asked him how long he would be. The counsel replied that he had some more questions to ask, and Mr. Sucha Singh said that he could only allow him another minute or two, as he could not go on for ever. In my experience, observations of this kind are made daily without any offence being meant or taken, and they serve to call the attention of counsel to the fact that cross-examination is being unduly prolonged. On this occasion counsel objected and asked for more time. It does not appear that the Magistrate refused him more time or gave him any definite time limit. At this point, Mr. Singh, who was not cross-examining the witness, interposed and told his fellow advocate to leave no important question unasked because of the time limit. I can only regard this act of Mr. C.P. Singh as improper and provocative. The witness was in charge of another counsel, who was able to deal with the Court himself. Mr. Singh's interference, which he admits himself in so many-words, creates in my mind a most unfavourable impression as to the manner in which this case was being conducted, and lends colour to the view taken by the District Magistrate that counsel was engaged in 'baiting an badgering the Magistrate'. It is on this occasion that the District Magistrate has observed that the counsel for the defence have not been co-operating, that is to say with the Court, but have been trying to obstruct and. delay the case and that the counsel had been deliberately giving provocation to the Court to induce it to lose its temper. An application was put in at the time in which Mr. C.P. Singh said that
every lawyer would feel discouraged if he is told that cross-examination would be stopped in a minute.
13. Now, Mr. Sucha Singh never said that the cross-examination would be stopped in a minute, nor did he as a matter of fact stop the cross-examination. He merely gave a proper warning to counsel that he would have to bring the cross-examination to an end in a minute or two. This is quite a different thing from fixing a time limit to the cross-examination, and the counsel knew this very well. This objection raised therefore in the words which I have quoted was not a genuine objection. It was in fact misleading, and it was intended to be misleading. At the time Mr. Sucha Singh observed that the description of the incident was false. At the request of counsel, he changed the word false to erroneous. The District Magistrate has upheld Mr. Sucha Singh in the use of the word false. Personally I consider that a lie is a lie, however it is described, and it makes very little difference whether counsel's misrepresentation of the words used by the Magistrate are described as being false or erroneous. In either case. I am prepared to support the action of the Magistrate who used the words.
14. The District Magistrate also took exception to an impertinence on the part of Mr. Singh when he said that Mr. Sucha Singh 'gave a sermon' to the counsel. It is suggested by the learned Counsel who appears for Mr. Singh that the use of the word 'sermon' is not offensive. In this I cannot agree. The word 'sermon' or 'lecture' in such a connection is used in a disparaging manner, and the word is intended to be so used in this application. It is highly improper of a counsel to use words of this kind in referring to a very proper rebuke made by the Magistrate to the counsel for highly unprofessional behaviour.
15. There are two more passages to which exception is taken in the District Magistrate's order.
16. First is No. 9, and runs as follows:
It was counsel who fell in to his own trap and lost his own temper, since he refused to withdraw his application and has brought this absurd petition for transfer.
17. In my opinion this was a fair comment, and nothing further need be said of it.
18. The last observation of the District Magistrate is as follows:
The Bar should realize that the baiting and badgering of a Magistrate is not a legitimate form of defence in criminal cases.
19. I am informed that the District Magistrate has had these views circulated to the Courts subordinate to him. P cannot conceive that any exception could be taken to the District Magistrate's, general observations. He does not imply, as far as I can understand, that the methods adopted by Mr. Singh are generally practised at the Dehra Dun Bar, though he certainly says that ' it is not the first complaint that has been made to me by members of the Bar against Subordinate Courts' I shall be most loath to belive that Mr. Singh's method of conducting the case is the method generally adopted by bar in Dehra Dun or elsewhere. In my opinion his method consists in attempting to provoke the Magistrate trying the case into some unguarded expression and then applying for a transfer. It is a method which is neither in the interest of his client nor in the interest of justice. I am not able to order the expunction of any one of the District Magistrate's remarks. For the most part, I think, they are well deserved. Mr. Sucha Singh appears to have behaved with great self restraint throughout, and counsel who choose to call attention to their own misdemeanours by making frivolous applications for transfer are liable to find that the appellate Court views their action with disapprobation and is, in some cases, not afraid to say so. The application is rejected, and the papers maybe returned.