1. This is a petitionunder Article 215 of the Constitution of India, read with Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act. 1971, for taking action against the respondent for contempt of Court on the ground that during the pendency of writ petition, that is. Champa v. Assistant Registrar. M. P. No. 593 of 1971, decided on 21-12-1974 (MP) the respondent purported to super-cede the Co-operative Society under Section 53 of the M. P. Co-operative Societies Act. 1960.
2. The elections to the Co-operative Society were to be held and that action of the Election Officer was challenged by one Champa in Misc. Petition No. 593 of 1971. In that case, a stay also had been granted, restraining the Election Officer from holding the Election. That petition, we have dismissed on 21-12-1974 on the ground that it has been rendered infructuous due to lapse of time. It was during the pendency of the said writ petition that the respondent Shri R. P. Navak, Deputy Registrar. Cooperative Societies, passed the order impugned, superseding the Co-operative Society, which is now subiect-matter of a challenge in a writ petition, registered as Misc. Petition No. 1103 of 1974. That writ petition was admitted recently and it is pending for hearing after notices to the respondents.
3. The contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the respondent, by passing the order of supersession of the Co-operative Society during the pendencv of the writ petition, that is. Misc. Petition No. 593 of 1971, has committed a civil contempt of this Court, inasmuch as the Election Officer had been restrained from holding the elections and for no fault of the members of the Society, the Co-operative Society has been superseded by the Deputy Registrar. Cooperative Societies.
4. In this connection, we might observe that if the authority has the statutory power to act in a particular manner, the question of mala fides or bona fides will not arise and the authority can certainlv exercise that statutory power as and when it thinks it proper. That power cannot be denied to the authority merely because of the pendency of a case in a Court of law. Of course, that statutory power cannot he exercised which would be in direct contradiction tothe subject-matter of the lis pending in a Court of law. But other action, not affecting that case, can certainly be taken if the statute empowers the authority to do so.
5. This question, we had elaborately considered in Malik Singh v. K. D. Saxena. M. Cr. C. No. 125 of 1974 decided on 11-12-1974. In that case, we had relied on a Division Bench decision of the Madhya Bharat High Court-namely Narayan Singh v. Satya Narain Dube, (1953) 2 MBLJ 164, wherein the learned Judges held that although a case may be pending before a Court, vet the doing of another lawful act. such as conducting of a departmental enquiry, cannot be regarded as amounting to contemnt of Court.
6. The said question was also considered by us In re, Mehra. Senior Superintendent of Post Offices. M. Cr. O, No. 177 of 1959 = (1960 MPLJ Notes 162), In that case, following the view of the Division Bench of the Madhva Bharat High Court, a Division Bench of this Court, had held that the scope of the departmental enquiry being altogether different from the matter involved in the criminal prosecution, the Superintendent of Post Offices could not be held guilty of a contempt of the Court by purporting to hold a departmental enquiry against the employee who was being prosecuted in a Court of law.
7. This question now would be concluded by the pronouncement of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Security and Finance (P.) Ltd. v. Dattatrava Raghav Agge, AIR 1970 SC 720. wherein their Lordships made the following observations :--
'It is well established that an authority holding an inquiry in good faith in exercise of the powers vested in it by a statute is not guilty of contempt of Court. merely because a parallel inquiry is imminent or pending before a Court. To constitute the offence of contempt of Court, there must be involved some 'act done or writing published calculated to bring a Court or a Judge of the Court into contempt or to lower his authority' or 'something calculated to obstruct or interfere with the due course of iustice or the lawful process of the Court -- (See Reg. v. Gray. (1900) 2 QB 36 and Arthur Reginald Perers v. The King. 1951 AC 482. In Tukaram Gaokar v. S. N. Shukla. C. A. No. 1579 of 1967. D/- 8-3-1968 = (AIR 1968 SC 1050)). it was held by this Court that the initiation and continuance of proceedings for imposition, of penalty On the appellant for his alleged compli-city in the smuggling of sold under Section 112(b) of the Customs Act, 1962 did not amount to contempt of Court though his trial in a Criminal Court for offences under Section 135(b) of that Act and other similar offences was imminent and identical issues would arise in the proceedings before the customs authorities and in the trial before Criminal Court. In Riswan-ul-Hasan v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 1'953 SCR 581 at p. 588 = (AIR 1953 SC 185 at p. 187) this Court stated :'As observed by Rankin. C. J.. in Anantlal Singha v. Alfred Henrv Watson, (1931) ILR 58 Cal 884 at p. 895 = (AIR 1931' Cal 257 at p. 261) the jurisdiction in contempt is not to be invoked unless there is real prejudice which can be regarded as a substantial interference with the due course of justice and that the purpose of the Court's action is a practical purpose and it is reasonably clear on the authorities that the Court will not exercise its jurisdiction upon a mere question of propriety.'
It follows therefore that even if the action of the appellants and respondent No. 1 in this case is assumed to be improper it will not justify the finding that they were guilty of contempt of Court when their action was in no way calculated to obstruct the course of justice or to prejudice the trial of the Civil Suit.' It is, therefore, clear that doing a thins in lawful manner empowered by the statute during the pendency of a writ petition, by itself, cannot amount to a civil contempt under Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act. 1971, nor can it be said to amount to a criminal contempt under Section 15 of the said Act. In such a case, the question of mala fides or bona fides would not at all arise, nor would it be relevant, because the powers so exercised can be exercised by virtue of the Statute. In this connection, we might further observe that the case of Pratap Singh v. Gurbaksh Singh, AIR 1962 SC 1172 will be clearly distinguishable. In that case, the employee, that is. Dr. Pratap Singh was departmentally punished because he had approached the Court of law without approaching the departmental authorities. Evidently, preventing a person from approaching a Court of law in order to exercise his statutory or constitutional rights will certainly amount to a contempt of Court. As such, the said case is clearly distinguishable and that principle cannot be attracted to the present case where the respondent exercised his statutory power conferred by S. 53 of the M. P. Co-operative Societies Act, 1961.
8. As a result, this petition fails and is accordingly dismissed summarily without notice to the other side.