M.N. Shukla, J.
1. This case came to us on a reference made by the learned District and Sessions Judge. Saharanpur under the Contempt of Courts Act. 1971. The brief facts of the case are that Shri N. C. Gupta is the editor and Shri Surendra Pandit is the proprietor of the Hindi Newspaper 'Vidambana' published from Hartfwar and Dehradun.
2. The editorial dated 11-4-1972 of the 'Vidambana' contained wild allegations about the Judges and Lawyers in this country and used vitunerative language, Hence, the learned District and Sessions Judge made a reference to this Court for taking such action as may be deemed proper against the publisher and the editor of the paper.
3. This Court issued notices to the two contemners, who filed affidavits and they were also present before us today at the time of the hearing of the case. We perused the original editorial published in the newspaper 'Vidambana' dt. 11-4-1972 and also the affidavits filed by the contemners offering their defence. So far as contemner No. 2. namely Shri Surendra Pandit (Surendra Kumar Sharma) is concerned he averred in his affidavit that Shri N. C. Gupta alone was responsible for the editorial which appeared in the newspaper; that he exercised exclusive control over the editorial written in the paper and that the deponent, who was merely a Sanrakchhak (Patron), did not share the duty of either editing the newspaper or otherwise managing it. He also offered his unqualified apology for the leading article, which had been published in the paper, Considering the apology tendered by Shri Surendra Kumar Sharma we do not think that it will be expedient to punish him for contempt, even though he may not be right in completely disowning any connection with this newspaper. We examined Shri N. C. Gunta in this Court and in his statement he threw the entire responsibility on Shri Surendra Kumar Sharma. However, it is not necessary for us to probe into this matter further, as we are satisfied that Shri Sharma is really remorseful for the publication of an article of this nature in the newspaper 'Vidambana'. We, therefore, accept his apology and discharge him.
4. So far as Shri N. C. Gupta is concerned, he admits that he is the editor of this newspaper. We recorded his statement in which he admitted that he was the author of the aforesaid editorial dated 11-4-1972. He had also filed an affidavit justifying the article and at the samp time tendering an apology. From his demeanour in Court and from the general tenor of his affidavit we were not impressed by the kind of apology contained therein. We. therefore, examined him with a view to ascertaining as to whether he really felt regret for writing and publishing such article and whether his apology was bona fide. Before we comment on his own attitude to the said article, it is necessary to advert to the offending passages contained therein. Apart from a general criticism of the system of justice. there are aspersions on Judges and lawyers, which cannot, pass muster under garb of fair criticism;
(1) In the first place, it is said in the article that wealthy persons are able to secure verdicts in their favour from Judges by means of money. How can a poor man, who has no money to spend in these courts, expect justice from them?
(2) Whether it be the courts of Hardwar, Roorkie, Saharanpur or Dehra-dun. at some places there is sant ganth (conspiracy) between lawyers and nudges, at others the courts are offered the temptation of wine and women 'Madhu Bala aur Madhu Hala.
(3) Justice which is meted out today cannot be regarded as impartial since the courts of today are the citadels of corruption and bribery.
(4) The justice which is administered in this country today is a puppet in the hands of the rich. If anyone points out the corruption and bribery relating to the courts he is threatened with proceedings for contempt of Court. For example, one Judge of Dehradun threatens to draw contempt proceedings at every step, which has caused' embarrassment to the public. Will this condition of the independent judiciary of our country persist?
The entire article is written in a reckless spirit and employs the most intemperate language. None can justify an abridgement of the right of fair criticism or an objective appraisal of any institution existing in the country. At the same time scurrilous remarks which on the face of them tend to pour ridicule on the judiciary or for that matter on any institution are not to be overlooked. A person cannot be allowed to indulge in such wild allegations with impunity. There is not the least doubt that the above remarks have the effect of bringing into disrepute the bench and the bar of India. The author or the article has tarred with the same brush the lawyers as well as Judges of this country and has also gone to the extent of saving in substance that there is an unholy conspiracy between these two vital organs of society, which is resulting in a travesty of justice. Vilification could not go farther than this. The other remark viz. that by virtue of their wealth rich persons can secure verdicts in their- favour from the Judges is again a flagrant reflection on the courts of law functioning in. the country. It is patent and unabashed indictment of the entire judiciary of India. Attacks on individuals, buttressed by specific data, may in certain circumstances be proved but a sweeping slanderous remark on an institution as a whole is obviously the product of an uninhibited and destructive mentality and its potential for mischief cannot be exaggerated. Edmund Burke referred to this pernicious tendency of the human mind when he declared, 'I do not know a method of drawing up an indictment against a whole nation.' The editorial written by Sri N. C. Gupta is a specimen of writing which would do no credit to any person with the slightest notion of the duties of a -journalist. Journalism justifies its existence by its capacity to educate public opinion and enlighten the ignorant and the uninformed man in the street. As Thomas Carlye perceived, 'Great is journalism. Is not every able editor a ruler of the world, being a persuader of it?' An editor enjoys some privileges but at the same time he must be alive to the necessity of restraint which his profession demands. Sri N. C. Gupta is evidently not aware of the thorn in the cushion of the editorial chair, It is by all standards a vitriolic statement on his part that the courts in our country do not act on considerations of justice but are influenced by the lure of wealth, wine and women. Such downright condemnation betrays an impetuosity which ill becomes an editor. There can be no two opinions that the article was highly contemptuous and was likely to scandalise all the courts in this country and particularly those functioning in the region of Hardwar, Roorkie. Saharanpur and Dehradun.
5. On examining Sri N. C. Gupta in this Court we were convinced that his apology was not genuine. He took deliberately false pleas before us. He deposed that some of the remarks contained in the offending passages were due to the printer's devil. No such plea was taken in his affidavit We out a straight question to him as to whether he now realised that the above quoted comments had exceeded the limits of law and propriety. He persisted that they were within the limits of fair criticism. We drew his attention to the remarks made by him in the editorial that the rich and affluent were able to procure justice in their favour by dint of their wealth. He deposed before us that he still adhered to the same statement. These categorical replies given by Shri N. C. Gupta to our questions completely negative the apology contained in his affidavit. It appeared to us from his demeanour and his statement made before us that he was far from apologetic and he did not realise the error of publishing such objectionable matter in his article.
6. On a request made by Shri K. B. L. Gour on behalf of Shri N. C. Gupta we re-examined him and at this stage Shri N. C. Gupta stated that he was sorry for the editorial, which he had written in the newspaper and that he would refrain from writing an article of this kind in future. Later Sri Gupta again changed his mind and refused to sign this part of his statement. It clearly demonstrates that the contemner's apology was not bona fide and his above statement was not the outpouring of a penitent heart. It seems, to have been inspired by the insistence and solicitude of his counsel and also put forward by the contemner in the hope of avoiding the consequences of his contemptuous action. We, therefore, reject his apology.
7. The contemner Sri N. C. Gupta is guilty of gross contempt as his editorial was bound to shake the confidence of the public in the administration of justice. It is imperative that he should be brought to book. We were inclined to punish him by sending him to jail but his counsel Sri K. B. L. Gour made a vehement appeal to our sense of mercy and submitted with all the humility at his command that his client was still a student of law and of immature mind and in an unguarded moment he had exceeded the limits of fair criticism in his editorial. We, therefore refrain from awarding a sentence of imprisonment to him.
8. Accordingly we convict Sri N. C. Gupta and sentence him to pay a. fine of Rs. 200/- and also Rs. 100/- as costs to the Government Advocate within a month from the date of this order. In case of default in payment of fine he shall undergo simple imprisonment for a week.