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Kamal Singh Baldeo Singh Thakur Vs. Gautam Sharma and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1961CriLJ491
AppellantKamal Singh Baldeo Singh Thakur
RespondentGautam Sharma and ors.
Cases ReferredR. v. Duffy
Excerpt:
.....evidence held, though presumption against appellant can be raised, it cannot be said that onus shifts exclusively and heavily on him to prove his innocence. conviction of appellant is liable to be set aside. - 4. like-wise the report in the paper and the action of the superintendent, police in taking disciplinary action against the sub-inspector for parading the accused hand-cuffed in the street do not constitute contempt, because it is not likely to prejudice the trial. 14. the principles on which courts ought to act in cases of contempt stand crystallised and well settled. interference with administration of justice is one of the well recognised heads of contempt. , observed at page 436: the reasons why the publication of articles like those with which we have to deal is treated as..........misconceived and is in consequence dismissed.shivdayal, j.6. i agree that this petition for taking action in contempt of court 3s misconceived and must be dismissed as such. however, i shall record rny reasons in my own words.7. it is stated in the petition that the petitioner lodged a report against one nanne khan for having committed the offence under sections 452 and 506 of the penal code by entering into the house of the petitioner with the intention of commit--ting criminal assault and intimidation on july 10, 1960. on his report, the police of shivpuri arrested nanhe khan on july 14, 1960 and submitted a challan to the magistrate first class shivpuri on july 15, 1960, whereupon criminaf case no. 385 of 1960 was registered. while this case was pending, the nav prabhat, a hindi.....
Judgment:
ORDER

A.H. Khan, J.

1. This question is filed by Kamal Singh with a request that suitable action be taken against all the non-petitioners under the Contempt of Courts Act.

2. The petitioner has stated that he lodged a report against one Nanne Khan under Sections 452 and 506 I.P.O. at Police Station Shivpuri, that the Police aftar arresting Nanne Khan submitted a Challan before a First Class Magistrate, Shivpuri and the case was numbered as No. 385/60. It is alleged that the Editor of Nav Prabhat, a Hindi daily paper published a news item and that the Superintendent of Police took some disciplinary action against the Sub-Inspector who challaned the case. It is contended that the news item and the action taken by the Superintendent of Police are calculated to prejudice the trial of his case.

3. From the news item, mentioned in the petition, it seems that it is about a protest made by all political parties against the action of the Sub-Inspector, who paraded a teacher, with handcuffs on, in the street. It is alleged that Nanne Khan, the accused in the case, was a teacher, who was paraded in the street. The protest by Political parties and the publication of it in. the daily paper can hardly prejudice the trial. Nothing is said about the merits of the trial and the news relates to the high-handedness with which the Police acted. I am quite clear in my mind that this does not constitute contempt of court, because as Oswald has defined it, contempt of court is that conduct which tends to bring the administration of law into disrespect or disregard or which prejudices litigants or their witnesses during litigation.

4. Like-wise the report in the paper and the action of the Superintendent, Police in taking disciplinary action against the Sub-Inspector for parading the accused hand-cuffed in the street do not constitute contempt, because it is not likely to prejudice the trial.

5. The application is misconceived and is in consequence dismissed.

Shivdayal, J.

6. I agree that this petition for taking action in contempt of Court 3s misconceived and must be dismissed as such. However, I shall record rny reasons in my own words.

7. It is stated in the petition that the petitioner lodged a report against one Nanne Khan for having committed the offence Under Sections 452 and 506 of the Penal Code by entering into the house of the petitioner with the intention of commit--ting criminal assault and intimidation on July 10, 1960. On his report, the police of Shivpuri arrested Nanhe Khan on July 14, 1960 and submitted a challan to the Magistrate First Class Shivpuri on July 15, 1960, whereupon Criminaf Case No. 385 of 1960 was registered. While this case was pending, the Nav Prabhat, a Hindi daily, published the following news in its issue of the 19th July:

The petitioner contends that these news items-were prejudicial to the petitioner's criminal case He prays for suitable action against Gautaim Sharma, Chief Editor and Indu Prasad Sewak, Printer and Publisher of the Nav Prabhat as also against Rahul Barpute, Chief Editor, and C. M. Shah, Printer and Publisher of the Nai Duniya, respondents Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively.

8. The petitioner's complaint against Prem Narain Nagar respondent No. 6 is that he supplied those news to the Nav Prabhat and the Nai Duniya after the Magistrate had taken cognizance of the case.

9. I propose to consider the three news items separately. In the first, there is no mention either directly or indirectly, of the incident of July 10, 1960, for which the petitioner states to have lodged a report and in respect of which a trial was pending. No one who read this news could connect it with the prosecution of Nanhe Khan for criminal assault and intimidation committed in the house of Kamal Singh. The only thing one could gather from this news was that the town police of Shivpuri insulted an innocent teacher at the instance of the Police prosecutor ana this caused an agitation in the mind of the public.

The news proceeded to say that on the 18th July representatives of all political parties met the Deputy Inspector General of Police and apprised him of the situation in the town. It was also suggested that in ease no action was taken against the guilty officer in a couple of days it would cause discontent in the town and the matter should be enquired into by some authority other than the police officer. It was also mentioned that a public strike was contemplated. It is quite clear that this news deals with an insult done to some teacher. It is nowhere mentioned in the petition how Kamal Singh or Nanhe Khan, was connected with this matter. It is not indicated even in the petition who according to the petitioner was referred to in the news item as the 'Adhyapak' (teacher).

10. In the second news item, reproduced above, it was stated that in the 'Shikshak Kand' (teacher's incident) prosecutor Soni and the City Kotwal had been suspended. Then the context in which the suspension order was passed was stated thus. Sometime earlier, owing to personal animosity, a teacher was kept in the police custody throughout the night and was marched to the Court hand-cuffed, which caused sufficient excitement among the citizens. Representatives of all political parties, journalists and respectable citizens took this matter to authorities. The Collector the Superintendent Police and the D.I.G. Police took immediate steps and removed the unrest. In this item too there is no mention either of Kamal Singh or of Nanhe Khan. It is not stated in the petition how this news had connection with the petitioner's case pending before the Magistrate against Nanhe Khan.

11. The third news item (of the Nai Duniya) is substantially in the same terms as those published in the Nav Prabhat.

12. It seems quite clear to me that these news items really intended to inform the readers of an apprehensive situation having arisen in Shivpuri and to admire the promptness with which the situation was handled and controlled.

13. Shri Swami Saran wanted us to read the words 'Adhyapak' in these items as referring to Nanhe Khan and stated that the people of Shivpuri understood it to be so. Even if we read the news items in that light, I am unable to see how they constitute a contempt of the Magistrate's Court. I cannot gather any intention in them to injure the case of any party or to interfere with the flow of justice.

14. The principles on which Courts ought to act in cases of contempt stand crystallised and well settled. It is contempt if there is publication of a news or comment which is intended or calculated to or is likely to prejudice parties to a cause or to interfere with due course of justice. Interference with administration of justice is one of the well recognised heads of contempt. As pointed out in Emperor v. V. B. Kolte AIR 1941 Nag 241 what has to be seen is whether the per-Jsons sought to be proceeded for contempt did interfere or did intend to interfere wim the admi-nistration of justice.

15. A free press is essential in a society of free citizens. Our Constitution permits free discussion. But the freedom of the press is the same as that of every citizen of the Republic; no special privileges are conferred on it by the Constitution. Here I am reminded of the observations of the Privy Council in Canning Arnold v. Emperor, 41 Ind App 149 at p. 169 : AIR 1914 PC 116 at p. 124.

Their Lordships regret to find that there appeared on the one side in this case the time-worn fallacy that some kind of privilege attached to the profession of the Press as distinguished from the members of the public. The freedom of the journalist is an ordinary part of the freedom of the subject, and to whatever lengths the subject in general may go, so also may the journalist, but, apart from statute law, his privilege is no other and no higher. The responsibilities which attach to his power in the dissemination of printed matter may, and in the case of a conscientious journalist do, make him more careful; but the range of his assertions, his criticisms, or his comments, is as wide as, and no wider than, that of any other subject. No privilege attaches to his position.

And observations of Braund, J., in Emperor v. Tushar Kanti Ghosh AIR 1946 All 298:

We feel it proper, in general to remind those responsible for the production of news papers of the special responsibility which rests upon them of seeing that every thing is excluded from thier columns in reference to pending cases, whether criminal or civil, which might possibly have the effect of prejudicing or prepossessing the mind of any judicial officer, jury man or potential witness who might be or become concerned with it.

In R. v. Parke (1903) 2 KB 432, Wills, J., observed at page 436:

The reasons why the publication of articles like those with which we have to deal is treated as a, contempt of Court is because their tendency and sometimes their object is to deprive the Court of the power of doing that which is the end for which it exists - namely, to administer justice duly, impartially and with reference solely to the facts judicially brought before it.

The power of the Courts to punish for any publication calculated to obstruct and pervert the due course of justice is not restricted under our Constitution, as there is no conferment of any special privilege to the press. Courts have, therefore, to be jealous to guard against any interference with their function. Thus, on the one hand, Courts will maintain the liberty of the press but at the same time will not allow it to create an atmosphere of prejudice which may interfere with the course of a fair trial.

16. The essence of the offence Iies in a tendency or in a calculation to produce an atmosphere of prejudice against persons who are on trial or who may be brought to trial and a tendency to obstruct the free flow of justice. But, as laid down in Rizwanul-Hasan v. State of Uttarj Pradesh : 1953CriLJ911 , the jurisdiction in contempt is not to be invoked unless there is real prejudice which can be regarded as substantial interference with the due course of justice. It has been held in R. v. Duffy (1960) 2 All ER 891 (894) that the test for determining whether an article published in a newspaper, while criminal proceedings are sub-judice, amounts to a contempt of Court is whether in all the circumstances existing at the date of publication the article was intended or calculated to prejudice the fair hearing of the proceedings.

17. Having in view the principles stated above, I do not see any case of contempt of Court in the impugned news items.

18. Respondent No. 5 is the Superintendent of Police, Shivpuri. The petitioner's case against him is that he suspended Raghufaj Singh, Sub Inspector of Police, and that he started proceedings against the Sub-Inspector and the police prosecutor by expressing an opinion that the offence under Section 452 had been wrongly levelled against Nanhe Khan and they had wrongly implicated him. It is contended by the petitioner that this created a prejudice against the petitioner. It is remarkable that the petitioner has conveniently avoided to state when, where, in what manner, on what occasion and in what capacity the Superintendent expressed the opinion. There is no precise statement in the petition as to the ground for which the Sub-Inspector was suspended. No copy of the suspension order has been filed. The accusation is too vague to be heard.


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