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M.K. Acharya, Additional District Magistrate Vs. Revashankar Narbadaprasad and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContempt of Court
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Misc. Application Nos. 2 of 1954 and 24 of 1955
Judge
Reported inAIR1959MP238; 1959CriLJ842
ActsContempt of Courts Act, 1952 - Sections 3
AppellantM.K. Acharya, Additional District Magistrate
RespondentRevashankar Narbadaprasad and anr.
Appellant AdvocateP.R. Sharma, Government Adv.
Respondent AdvocateV.V. Kulkarni, Adv. for Opponent 1 and ;Party in person for Opponent No. 2
Cases ReferredM. Y. Shareef v. Judges of Nagpur High Court
Excerpt:
- - kulkarni but the magistrate had good reason to suspect that the allegations must have been made within his knowledge and this became plain when in the high court in answer tothe notice for contempt the allegations were repeated in as unrestrained language as in the application orperhaps still more. 28. however i fail to appreciate the part played by mr. kulkarni in this episode and particularly while justifying the contempt in the proceedings against the contemner revashankar and strongly disapprove of the manner in which he has failed to safeguard the dignity and prestige of the court of which he should be considered as a limb. 29. i would like to serve a stern warning to mr......were placed before mr. dixie and chaturvedi jj., who directed issue of notices both against mr. kulkarni and rewashankar to show cause why they should not be proceeded against for contempt for the aspersions made against the court of mr. acharya in the reply filed in the contempt proceedings in criminal miscellaneous case no. 2 of 1954. criminal miscellaneous case no. 24 of 1955 relates to this matter. notices were accordingly issued and rewashankar again submitted a reply practically covering the same grounds as in earlier reply.9. all the three matters are placed before us for disposal.10. in n. k. acharya v. revashankar, criminal misc. case no. 2 of 1954, the high court of madhya bharat took the view that the jurisdiction of the high court was ousted by reason of provisions of.....
Judgment:

V.R. Nevaskar, J.

1. The facts giving rise to the present proceedings for contempt have been discussed in the judgment of this Court prior to remand by the Hon'ble the Supreme Court and in the judgment of their Lordships of the Supreme Court remanding the same to this Court. They may briefly be stated again for the purpose of this judgment as under :

2. One Gangaram, who is the husband of Chandramukhibai stated to be the landlord of the opponent Revashankar filed a suit against the latter in the Court of Additional City Civil Judge, Indore, No. 1383 of 1952 for ejectment and arrears of rent. The suit was said to be in the name of both Gangaram and his wife Chandramukhibai. In this suit one Mr. Umashankar Chaturvedi appeared on behalf of Gangaram.

It was alleged that Chandramukhibai had not in fact signed the plaint filed by Gangaram butGangaram under the advice of his lawyer signed the plaint in the name of his wife. Chandramukhibai is said to have submitted an application against Gangaram in this suit for the prosecution of her husband for this act of foregery on his part. Another application was filed by certain other persons said to be other tenants of Gangaram in which some allegations were made against Rewashankar. On 29-6-1953 Rewashankar lodged a complaint against five persons for an alleged offence under Section 500 I. P. C.

The complaint was verified on 13-7-1953 and was registered as Criminal Case No. 637 of 1953 in the Court of Additional District Magistrate Indore presided over by Mr. N. K. Acharya. Complainant Rewashankar in this case was represented by Mr. Kulkarni an Advocate. On behalf of the accused persons an objection, was taken for appearance of Mr. Kulkarni an the ground that he was named as one of the witnesses in the case.

This was followed by a spate of applications and counter applications and on 10-10-1953 the learned Additional District Magistrate passed an order that the application and the counter applications should be sent to the District Magistrate for necessary action. In the meantime a criminal complaint was filed by Gangaram against Rewashankar for an alleged offence under Section 497 I. P. C. which was registered and numbered as Criminal Case No, 644 of 1953.

3. In this background of events an application was submitted before the Additional District Magistrate Mr. N. K. Acharya in the defamation case of Rewashankar No. 637 of 1953 containing allegations which may be summarised in the following four categories :

1. From the order passed by Additional District Magistrate Mr. N. K. Acharya dated 12-10-1953 it appears clear that he wants to favour Mr, Umashankar Chaturvedi,

2. From the expression of opinion in the said order the applicant was sure that he will not get) impartial and legal justice at the hands of the learned Magistrate.

3. The Additional District Magistrate Mr. N. K. Acharya had a hand in the conspiracy hatched by Mr. Mohansingh Mukhtyar and Mr. Umashankar Chaturvedi regarding the ornaments of Chandramukhibai with the object of involving the applicant, his brother Sushil kumar and Chandramukhibai.

4. Mr. Umashankar Chaturvedi had declared before the friends of the opponent that Rs. 500/- had been paid to Mr. Acharya through Gangaram and that he would see how the opponent could succeed in Mr. Acharya's court.

4. The learned Magistrate Mr. Acharya on 17th was sitting as a court, as it appears from bis observations in the penultimate Para of his report to this Court dated 11-11-1954 and ground No. 2 in the application on behalf of the State for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

5. The application for transfer containing these scandalous allegations against the Court of Shri N. K. Acharya were, according to the learned Magistrate, totally false and had been submitted before him mala fide with a view to interfere with the course of justice by the petitioner and his adviser. The learned Magistrate felt that Rewashankar's counsel Mr. Kulkarni had a hand in the matter. He therefore reported the matter to the High Court of Madhya Bharat for necessary action after initiating an inquiry if necessary.

6. The High Court of Madhya Bharat issued notice to Rewashankar to show cause why action should not be taken against him for contempt of Court.

7. In reply to this notice a long reply was submitted by the opponent Rewashankar countersigned by Mr, Kulkarni. This reply too contained aspersions as grave as those contained in the application dated 17-12-1953 submitted before the Magistrate or perhaps clearer.

8. The Government Advocate thereupon submitted an application for taking proceedings for contempt as regards allegations made in the reply submitted on behalf of Rewashankar in the contempt proceedings referred to above both against Rewashankar on whose behalf the reply was submitted and his counsel Mr, Kulkarni who countersigned the reply. The matters were placed before Mr. Dixie and Chaturvedi JJ., who directed issue of notices both against Mr. Kulkarni and Rewashankar to show cause why they should not be proceeded against for contempt for the aspersions made against the Court of Mr. Acharya in the reply filed in the contempt proceedings in Criminal Miscellaneous Case No. 2 of 1954. Criminal Miscellaneous Case No. 24 of 1955 relates to this matter. Notices were accordingly issued and Rewashankar again submitted a reply practically covering the same grounds as in earlier reply.

9. All the three matters are placed before us for disposal.

10. In N. K. Acharya v. Revashankar, Criminal Misc. Case No. 2 of 1954, the High Court of Madhya Bharat took the view that the jurisdiction of the High Court was ousted by reason of provisions of Section 3 (2) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952. This view was held by their Lordships of the Supreme Court to be erroneous. According to their Lordships the aspersions referred to above in the application of the opponent Rewashankar. dated 17-12-1953 and his affidavit dated 21-12-53 amounted at their face value to what is called scandalising the Court itself thereby tending to create distrust in the popular mind and thereby impairing the confidence of the people in the administration of justice.

11. The aforesaid case was therefore remanded to this Court for a decision on merits.

12. It is clear from the summary of principal allegations capable of being divided into four categories referred to above, that those allegations and particularly the allegations referable to categories third and fourth involve scurrilous attacks upon the character and conduct of the Magistrate.

13. Their Lordships of the Supreme Court in the course of their order of remand in this case while considering the question of jurisdiction observed :

'Learned counsel for the parties have taken us through the application dated 17-12-1953 and the affidavit dated 21-12-1953- The aspersions made therein prima-facie showed that they were much more than a mere insult to the learned Magistrate; in effect, they scandalised the Court in such a way as to create distrust in the popular mind and impair the confidence of people in courts.'

14. In the latter part of the judgment it was observed :

'Taking the aspersions made by the respondent in the application dated 17-12-1953 and the affidavit dated 21-12-1953 at their face value, we have already expressed the view that they amounted to something more than a mere intentional personal insult to the Magistrate; they scandalised the court itself and impaired the administration of justice.'

15. If then the aspersions made in the application and the affidavit amount to scandalisation having the effect of impairing the administration of justice the only question is whether the opponentRewashankar deserves to be punished for the set and if so what would be the adequate punishment.

16. In the case of Brahma Prakash v. State of U. P. reported in AIR 1954 S. C. 10, their Lordships while dealing with defamatory matter contained in the resolution of a certain Bar Association were required to consider, further whether the same amounted to contempt of court. They observed at page 15 Column 1 :

'To answer this question, we have to see whether it is in any way calculated to interfere with thedue administration of justice in these courts, or in other words, whether such statement is likely togive rise to an apprehension in the minds of litigants as to the ability of the two judicial officers to deal properly with cases corning before them, or even to embarrass the officers themselves in the dis-charge of their duties.'

17. Their Lordships further observed :

'Pleas of justification or privilege are not strictly speaking available to the defendant in contempt proceedings. The question of publication also in the technical sense in which it is relevant in a libel action may be inappropriate to the law of contempt.'

18. The opponent Revashankar, tried to justify the contempt by repeating what he had stated before the learned Magistrate in the application and the affidavit of December 1953. Such a plea of justification is not open. The allegations of corruption were made designedly in such a manner that the same had no chance of being substantiated. The words are put in the mouth of Mr. Umashankar Chaturvedi the counsel for the opposite side attributing corruption to the Magistrate. This is a mean attempt on the part of the contemner to vilify the Magistrate with the idea that he could not be contradicted by a disinterested witness.

19. The impugned allegations had the double effect of creating a feeling of embarrassment to the Magistrate in the discharge of his duties as a court thereby preventing him from doing justice freely and unhesitatingly and of impairing the confidence of the actual and prospective litigants in placing reliance upon the Court's administration of justice. He therefore deserves to be dealt with under this Court's summary jurisdiction for contempt.

20. There is hardly any expression of regret or apology by him worth the name in this case.

21. Since however the allegations were made in the application and the affidavit and the extent of publication was as far as can be seen within theprecincts of the Court I would consider it proper to impose a fine of Rs. 200/- upon the opponent Rewashankar. In imposing this fine I have taken into account the repetition of the allegations before the High Court in answer to the notice to show cause. No separate punishment therefore for that action is necessary.

22. As regards Mr. Kulkarni, the Advocate for Revashankar, it appears clear that the learned Advocate did not restrain himself from identifying himself with his client and with the brief he was holding as an Advocate of this Court. It cannot be doubted that the objection regarding his competence to appear as a lawyer in the case was an item in the back-ground of the incident regarding presentation of the application and affidavit in question. The application of December 5 7, 1953 was not countersigned by Mr. Kulkarni but the Magistrate had good reason to suspect that the allegations must have been made within his knowledge and this became plain when in the High Court in answer tothe notice for contempt the allegations were repeated in as unrestrained language as in the application orperhaps still more. The reply before the HighCourt was countersigned by Mr. Kulkarni, How far is the action justified?

23. This brings in the question regarding the limits of professional ethics available to a lawyer acting in discharge of his professional duties.

24. In the case reported in M. Y. Shareef v. Judges of Nagpur High Court, (S) AIR 1955 SC 19, their Lordships of the Supreme Court considered this question. They observed :

'It cannot be denied that a section of the Bar is under an erroneous impression that when a counsel is acting in the interest of his client, or in accordance with his instructions he is discharging his legitimate duty to his client even when he signs an application or a pleading which contains matter scandalizing the Court. They think that when there is conflict between their obligations to the Court and their duty to the client, the latter prevails.

This misconception has to be rooted out by a clear and emphatic pronouncement, and we think it should be widely made known that counsel who sign applications or pleadings containing matter scandalizing the court without reasonably satisfying themselves about the prima facie existence of adequate grounds therefor with a view to prevent or delay the course of justice, are themselves guilty of contempt of Court, and that it is no duty of a counsel to his client to take any interest in such applications; on the other hand, his duty is to advise his client for refraining from making allegations of this nature in such applications.'

25. It was however pointed out that every form of defence in a contempt case cannot be regarded as an act of contumacy and that it depends upon the facts of each case and on the general impression about a particular rule of ethic amongst the members of the profession.

26. Mr. Kulkarni, who argued his own matter in respect of notice issued to him, at the end of his argument expressed apology.

27. We assume that the apology tendered by Mr. Kulkarni is sincere and accept the same.

28. However I fail to appreciate the part played by Mr. Kulkarni in this episode and particularly while justifying the contempt in the proceedings against the contemner Revashankar and strongly disapprove of the manner in which he has failed to safeguard the dignity and prestige of the Court of which he should be considered as a limb.

29. I would like to serve a stern warning to Mr. Kulkarni that in case he is found to resort to similar attitude a severe action against him will have to be taken in the public interest. With these observations I would discharge the rule against him.

T.C. Shrivastava, J.

30. I agree.


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