1. This is a reference made by the Sessions Judge Sambalpur-Sundargarh, recommending that the order of conviction passed by Shri H. P. Hota, Magistrate, First Class, Deogarh, under Section 228, I.P.C. be set aside.
2. The facts are that the petitioner, Puma Chandra Majhi filed a complaint under Section 504, I, P. C. against the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Deo 'garh,. Mr. Mohammad Shariff. The complainant was examined by a Magistrate of the First Class, Shri Hota, and his statement on oath was recorded. The Magistrate, however, felt that the complaint was not maintainable for want of sanction under Section 197, Cr.P.C. In this view the dismissed the complaint, petition, under Section 203, Cr. P. C.
After' pronouncing the order, the Magistrate directed the complainant to bring his lawyer so that he may go through the order passed by him. But the complainant expressed surprise at this, and enquired how his complaint could be dismissed without any examination of his witnesses. According to the Magistrate the complainant repeated this statement several times with the deliberate intention of insulting him.
He therefore drew up proceedings for contempt against the complainant, convicted him under Section 228, I. P. C., and sentenced him to a fine of Rs. 50/-; in default to undergo Section 1, for seven days. The present reference has been made by the Sessions Judge, against this order of conviction.
3. The questions put to the petitioner by the Magistrate in the course of his examination and the answers given by him are as follows:
The first question put to him was: 'what did you say when T informed you that your case had been dismissed?' The answer given by the petitioner was: 'This case had been fixed for hearing before the Sub-Divisional Magistrate. On bearing the call I came and represented to you that I may be given time to call my Vakil. You said there was no need for calling a Vakil.
'Thereafter how can you hear a Vakil' said I. 'When there were witnesses to be examined, how could my case be dismissed?' I said so then and I repeat it now also'. The next question put to the petitioner was: 'When I asked you to go and stand inside the box what did you say'? The petitioner's reply was: 'I said four or five times that I must go out for answering calls of nature, as I was nervous. I say that even now'. The above are the versions given by the petitioner of what had transpired in the Court.
4. The learned Sessions Judge holds that after pronouncing his order of dismissal the Magistrate ceased to function as a judicial officer and consequently there was no Court in the view of which the offence of contempt can be said to have been committed. It may be noted that the Magistrate was also in charge of Treasury work and at the time he was putting the questions to the petitioner he was also presumably engaged in going through some official work.
Whatever that be it is clear that after having pronounced the order of dismissal the Magistrate lost seisin of the matter and his direction to the complainant to bring his Vakil cannot be regarded as an order of the Court trying the matter. It was not unnatural for the petitioner whose case had been summarily dismissed by the Magistrate without hearing his witnesses or his Vakil to have re marked that the presence of a Vakil at that stagel was unnecessary.
Any disappointed litigant is likely to make such a statement in such circumstances and there appears to be no justification to import any intention to insult the Magistrate. After all Courts cannot be over-touchy in such matters.
5. What seems to have irritated the Magistrate is the fact that the petitioner had dared to file a criminal complaint against the Sub-Divisional Magistrate. On the facts available I am not inclined to attribute any blame to the petitioner. If the Magistrate thought that the sanction of the State Government was necessary before the complaint could be entertained, he could have asked the complainant either to obtain the sanction or to withdraw the complaint and file a fresh one.
What he did on the other hand was to refuse time to the complainant to fetch his Vakil to explain the legal position and he dismissed the complaint without giving him an opportunity to explain. In these circumstances I do not think that the petitioner had any intention other than to vindicate his right and I can see no justification for holding that the petitioner wanted to insult or interrupt the business of the Court.
6. The Magistrate also appears to have introduced extraneous knowledge into his order when be remarked that 'the accused is a Mamlatkar leading groups of villagers.' The fact that the petitioner happened to be an important village leader seems to have induced the Magistrate to disbelieve the petitioner's plea that be had been feeling the urges of the call of nature several times out of fear for the Magistrate.
In the opinion of the Magistrate this plea was false and was made with a view to avoid examination in Court. The Magistrate proceeds to say: 'This is a second instance of his contempt towards this Court by uttering such foul language falsely'. It was not proper for the Magistrate to have introduced his extraneous knowledge into has order.
I am unable to appreciate how the Magistrate could characterise the representation of the plea of the petitioner as 'false' or as having been made in 'foul' language.
7. I would accordingly accept the referencemade by the learned Sessions Judge and set asidethe order of the Magistrate. The fine, if paid,should be refunded.