1. This case was started on a reference made by the Sub-divisional Magistrate of Cuttack, against the Editors, Printers and Publishers of two Oriyanewspapers of Cuttack named 'Matrubhumi' and 'Krushak' on the allegation that during the pendency of two criminal cases of defamation (C. C. No. 787 of 1952 and C. C. No. 786 of 1952) the said papers published a series of articles which have a tendency to interfere with the fair trial of those cases and that the Editors, Printers and Publishers have committed contempt of Court.
2. The said two complaint cases were filed before the Sub-divisional Magistrate of Cuttack, Sadar, by one Sri Bijayananda Patnaik who has figured somewhat prominently both in the political and industrial circles of Orissa in recent years. He is a member of the Orissa Legislative Assembly and belongs to the Congress Party which has been the Party-in-office ever since the Congress came to power in 1947. It has been alleged and not denied that he is a close friend of Sri Harekrushna Mahatab who was for some time the Chief Minister of Orissa and also the Hon'ble Minister for Industries in the Government of India. It is also an unchallenged fact that during recent years several industrial companies such as Orissa Textiles Mills Ltd., the Kalinga Refrigerator Co., and the Kalinga Tubes Co. were floated in Orissa mainly through the efforts of Sri Bijayananda Patnaik and for some of these companies Government gave substantial financial help.
The 'Krushak' is admittedly an organ of the Socialist Party of Orissa which is somewhat hostile to the Congress Party. The political affiliations of 'Matrubhumi' are not on record. But a perusal of the impugned articles appearing in that paper leads to a fair inference that it is also anti-Congress. When Sri Harekrushna Mahatab was the Hon'ble Minister for Industries at Delhi there were some allegations to the effect that Sri Bijayananda Patnaik and some other local Congress men obtained permits for controlled commodities through their influence with him in the names of bogus companies and resold the permits at great profit.
On 5-6-1952, 'Matrubhumi' came out with an article under the caption 'Fifty bales of yarn disappeared. 'Congress leader's mysterious' (sic). It was alleged therein that due to the mischief of a Congress M.L.A. and with the assistance of Sri Mahatab permits for fifty bales of yarn were obtained for the purpose of dyeing the same in the name of a bogus company and that the entire quantity of yarn disappeared mysteriously. In that article there was also a reference to the securing of quota of flour for a bogus biscuit company by some Congress M.L.AS. and high officials who were 'pets' of Sri Mahatab. Though in this article Sri Bijayananda Patnaik was not specifically named the reference to a Congress M.L.A. in charge of companies would, in the then political context of Orissa, lead to a reasonable inference that the article was a veiled attack on none else but himself. However, Sri Bijayananda Patnaik took no action on that article.
3. Some time in the 1st week of June, 1952, the Central Intelligence Police Department carried out extensive searches in the houses of several persons at Cuttack including the residence of Sri Bijayananda Patnaik. At about the same time during the reshuffle of the Central Ministry Sri Harekrushna Mahatab was not included in the Central Cabinet. This fact inevitably led to all sorts of rumours about the alleged black-marketing in permits said to have been indulged in by Sri Bijayananda Patnaik and other favourites of Sri Mahatab when he was Minister for Industries and the anti-Congress papers of Orissa began to publish a series of articles attacking both of them, basing their attack on the admittedsearch by the Central Intelligence Police of the .house of Sri Bijayananda as the background.
In the 'Matrubhumi' of 17-6-1952 the followingarticle (translated into English) appeared.
' 'MATRUBHUMI', DATED 17th JUNE, 1952. Extensive searches in the Town of Cuttack. Dangerous fraud and conspiracy about to be unearthed. Theif's house does not remain dark always'.
(From our own correspondent)
Cuttack -- 12.6.
At present the Central C.I.D. are carrying on extensive searches in the town of Cuttack. With the help of the Police of Cuttack and with the co-operation of the staff of the Central C.I.D., Puri, officer of the Central C.I.D. in the afternoon of last Saturday searched the house of Nandalal Modi in Nayasarak, the house of Uchhab Samantrai in Rajabagicha, Pearl Cycles Store of Ranihat, the house of Mayadhar Mohanty in Petinsahi and the residential house of Congress M.L.A. Sri Bijayananda Patnaik.
The local officers were not intimated of the purpose of the searches. The searches were conducted with the help of armed constables who kept guard. People of the town gathered on the road and were seeing the sight.
Before search brother of Sri Bijayananda Patnaik raised several objections to the search of Bijayananda's house. But the town Inspector explained the position that if there is obstruction to search serious situation will arise and thereupon he agreed to the search.
It is reported that the reason for the search is that a company by the name of Eastern Mercantile Corporation was formed under the leadership of Sri Bijayananda Patnaik. Permits for importing several crores of cement, maida, sugar, steel goods, screw, unmbrella stick, cycle, yarn were obtained from the Central Government in the names of members of this company and illegally, profits of lacs of rupees were made by selling those to several persons outside Orissa. It is alleged that by such action they have cheated the Central Government, the State Government and the people. From the papers it appears that the office of the company is located at 'Ananda Bhavan' in Tulsipur; but there does not appear to be any such office in Tulsipur'. It is rumoured that these permits were got hold of when Mahatab was the Central Minister for Industries. It is further rumoured that apart from the persons whose houses have been searched, another M.L.A. of Cuttack, some distinguished people of Nayasarak & an important man of Barang Factory have manoeuvred to obtain permits from Central Government and have helped in the illegal sale of permits and are directly involved in certain transactions. During these searches, it is understood, some papers have been seized from the house of Mayadhar Mohanty, former Secretary of Mahatab.
Yesterday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. the offices of Narasing Ratha & Co. and Kalinga Tubes were searched by the Central C.I.D. with the help of Manglabag Police and they have taken some extracts from some papers.
Besides it is rumoured that there has been serious allegation that Sri Patnaik has taken lacs of rupees from the Government in the name of development of industries and has not done anything.
It is learnt that the company in whose name import licence has been obtained is not an established company nor is the company assessed to income-tax. It is being seriously investigatedas to how crores worth of permits were granted for transaction from the Central Secretariat to a company consisting of private share-holders. The mysterious manner in which the permits were sold outside viz., Madras and Bengal and lacs of rupees worth of profit were made have already been investigated by the Central C.I.D. in those States'. It is learnt that Poddar andCo. of Calcutta are implicated in this matter. The application addressed to the Central Government for permits and other papers have been seized.
It may be remembered that it was published in Daily Matrubhumi a few days back that although it has no dyeing factory 50 bales of yarn were obtained from the Secretariat of the Insustries Minister Mahatab and were not tobe traced. It was also published that without intimating the State Government permit for maida was obtained from the Central Government and was not to be traced. It was published similarly without having a biscuit factory,maida for two months quota was obtained and was not to be traced'.
'As it is learnt that Central C.I.D. even though belated will systematically investigate into every matter and frame proper charges against some persons'. 'It is rumoured that some of the share-holdersof the company were running to Delhi prior and subsequent to elections and gave substantial financial help at the time of elections'.'
That the article is grossly defamatory of Sri Bijayananda Patnaik will be apparent. The substance of the allegation contained in that article is that he organised a bogus company named 'Eastern Mercantile', obtained several permits for various controlled commodities from the Central Government taking advantage of the presence of Sri Harekrushna Mahatab as Minister for Industries and resold them at great profit to black-marketeers of Madras and Bengal. It was also alleged that there was a rumour to the effect that Sri Bijayananda Patnaik obtained lacs of rupees from the State Government for the purpose of development of industries but had not done anything. There was also a reference to the previous article dated 4-6-1952 regarding the mysterious disappearance of fifty bales of yarn and the permit for flour for manufacture of biscuits. Strangely enough Sri Bijayananda Patnaik did not take any action against the newspaper soon afterwards.
In the meantime, agitation against the activities of Sri Harekrushna Mahatab and Sri Bijayananda Patnaik was started in other anti-Congress papers of Orissa such as 'Krushak'. The 'Matrubhumi' also came out with two other articles on 21-7-1952 which were as follows:
''MATRUBHUMI' DATED 21st July, 1952'
IS MAHATAB AT THE ROOT OP ALL MISDEEDS?
He should be immediately arrested with his friends and followers. Straightforward statement by ex-Congress M.L.A.
Pandit Lakshminarayan Misra, a well known Congress leader and worker of Sambalpur, was a Congress member of the previous Legislative Assembly of Orissa. The follower of Mahatab had taken the shelter of bribery, falsehood, black-marketing etc., with his help, support and active co-operation when he was the Chief Minister and thereafter when he was prompted from this office to the post of the Union Minister of Industries and Commerce, in respect of which the C.I.D. was investigating recently. In that connection Pandit Misra wrote in thepaper 'Subrati' which is published under his editorship from Sambalpur dated 3-7-1952 under a headline 'Arrest' as follows:
It is a matter of great surprise that Bijayananda Patnaik and others are not yet arrested. These are the charges against them that they have opened a false, i.e., fraudulent company, arranged permits for flour, cycle, yarn, iron and other articles of daily use worth many lakhs and received a huge amount through black-marketing. It is, however, understood that no scent of the matter named Bijayananda Patnaik & Co. is even known to the Income-tax Department. All their fraudulent attempts are thoroughly known to the Government of India. But we want to make it known through the clearest language according to the doubt and demand of the public that Harekrushna Mahatab himself is at the root of all sorts of misdeeds and he should be arrested at the first instance. If Jawaharlal's Government was prepared to prevent corruption, then they should arrest Mahatab, Bijay and Biren immediately without showing them any kindness and sympathy and should not utter the name of surety until the end of the investigation.
X X XIn this way they are collecting a huge amount and again taking lakhs after lakhs from the Kendu leaves lessees and others under the leadership of Mahatab, created so vicious atmosphere in the political field of Orissa at the time of election that the people became impatient with hatred and irritation. Land-Rover cars which were brought by Bijayananda through his gambling and cheating were sent to different districts as the property of the Congress.
Pandit Misra is one of the influential leaders of the Congress Circle of Sambalpur. We have no language to have stronger remarks than the strong remarks which have been published out of his aforesaid writing regarding the movement of Mahatab with his friends and followers.'
''MATRUBHUMI:' DATED THE 21st JULY,
FIRE SMOULDERING INSIDE.
It will burn one day to destroy the black-marketeers of Orissa.
The result of the investigation of C.I.D.
Recently some business firms of Cuttack were under the strict vision of the C.I.D. Articles of lakhs of rupees were imported on the strength of some import permits issued from, the office of Mahatab when he was the Minister of Commerce and Industries and were sold in Calcutta, Madras and other places through black-marketing. Such allegations were heard at that time. The name of Kalinga Mercantile Corporation was alleged specially in this connection and the houses of the so-called Directors of this firm were searched. After the departure of the C.I.D. from Orissa on completion of their work, it is understood that a case on behalf of Bijayananda Patnaik has been filed in High Court showing that such investigations and searches have no reasonable grounds of their own.
However, in this connection it is propagated on behalf of some papers and institutions connected with Bijayananda Patnaik that the allegations for which the C.I.D. was investigating & searching in Orissa are baseless and such of their works are entirely illegal. But the correspondent of Matrubhumi has come to understand through the secret enquiry in this connectionthat the propaganda which is now made regarding the extinguishing of the fire is smouldering inside and will burn violently in flaming tongue. The profiteer of his party who, getting Mahatab in the office of the Commerce and Industries in the Centre, made the flow of the black-marketing in the country on the strength of the import permits, will be captured one after one and will be properly punished according to their malpractices. The C.I.D. is still engaged in their primary work relating to it.'
Apparently, being an anti-Congress paper it wanted to utilise the series of incidents that had taken, place with a view to discredit the two of the prominent Congress men of Orissa, namely, Sri Harekrushna Mahatab and Sri Bijayananda Patnaik.
4. The 'KRUSHAK' also started a similar agitation. On 18-7-1952 it published an article under the caption--
'SEARCH IN ORISSA AND DEEDS OP MAHATAB. Mahatab had to quit his office of minitership as he was detected in his attempt to hoodwink Nehru.
Not even one out of cycles of ten lakhs of rupees was consigned to Orissa.'
A major portion of the article is devoted to a venomous attack on Sri Harekrushna Mahatab which is not material for the purpose of this case. But the later portion which deals with the alleged activities of Sri Bijayananda Patnaik may however be quoted.
''KRUSHAK, DATED THE 18th JULY, 1952'. 'Not even one of the cycles consigned to Orissa'. It was demanded first on behalf of the Orissa Government to issue import license to Oriyas to import cycles to Orissa. It was a loss to Orissa from the first instance when it was so planned to tender the license to Bijayananda Patnaik ignoring the people whose name Orissa Government recommended. Cycles of five lakhs of rupees was quota for Orissa. One clever, businessman of Delhi snatched away the license of two lakhs of rupees out of that when it was very hastely planned to issue the licence in the name of 'Eastern Mercantile Co.' and consequently Orissa got licence to import cycles of only three lakhs of rupees. Not even one of those cycles is yet consigned to Orissa. It is exhausted just there. Now Bijayanand Patnaik points out a very fine legal defect that he got the licence to import the cycles, but no such particular condition was imposed on him to consign the cycles to Orissa. He says that he has not sold over the licence to outsiders but has sold the articles. All who sell away the permits manage cleverly to colour the transaction as of articles in paper.
HOW DID THE SILK DISAPPEAR.
License to import silk of high standard of about some lakhs from America was obtained and it is ascertained from the papers that such has been imported. But not even a string out of it has crossed the boundary of Orissa and brought into. Such silk is much appreciated in Indonesia. Bijayananda is well acquainted in Indonesia. Some enquiry is being taken up in this connection. The list did not end here. Nothing is known about the license to import screws of lakhs of rupees.'
'GOVERNMENT OP INDIA COULD NOT BE ENTRAPPED. BIJAYANANDA PATNAIK RETURNED DESPERATE.
Minister, Industry, declared in Orissa Assembly that there is no reason to apprehend about thefuture of the Kalinga Refrigerator as the Managing Agent of the company has left for Delhi to arrange for money.
Many, at this statement, apprehended that India Government shall no more be entrapped by Bijayananda Patnaik. It so happened in the long run.
There is one institution of India Government named Industrial Financial Corporation which grants loan to different industrial institutions of the country. Bijayananda's Orissa Textile Milla has incurred a loan of about forty lakhs of rupees from that institution. It is so inferred that perhaps that institution did not grant loan to Kalinga Refrigerator this time. Patnaik has, returned desperate. The company in Madras to which this Oriya institution was to be handed over refused for the last time to take it up. Negotiation is going on with one Marwari at Cuttack. It will be final by this week as far as it is understood.
THE INNER AFFAIRS OF THE REFRIGERATOR CO.
Many must be anxious to know why this company failed. It is understood after enquiry that the capital of the Company rose to about 25 lakhs of rupees. The industrialists of Delhi and Bombay so opine that this amount is sufficient for a refrigerator Co. It also availed some facilities through the grace of Mahatab, the then Chief Minister, Orissa. But there is no cash balance of the Company except a few machinery and instruments. Accounts show that articles for about more than ten lakhs of rupees have been purchased. The article which is available in India at three hundred rupees is shown in accounts to have been purchased from England at more than double the amount. Not only this, but also up to twenty thousand rupees have been spent in each tour of Bijayananda Patnaik to England and he has gone several times on behalf of the company. There is no limit to the expenditure on cars and petrol. When the expenditure for the workers was six thousands a month eight thousands were on the supervising staff.
WHAT THE FACTORY WAS DOING?
The Minister, Industry, Orissa replied in Assembly that this factory began to function from the August, 1951. But till now only 161 units have come out whereas the capacity of the factory is to produce 75 units a week. These really seem mysterious.
GIVE OUT THE REAL FACT.
Government money was poured out to strengthen the narrow party which Mahatab formed in Orissa. The authorities of the Company should inform the public at once how far the rumours regarding this company are true or otherwise. Let the company give out the real truth if the rumours are not true. If the authorities remain silent it would be better if the Government appoint an enquiry committee who would give out the real truth to the public.'
It will be noticed that the substance of the allegation against Sri Bijayananda Patnaik in the 'KRUSHAK' is also similar to that published in the 'MATRUBHUMI' of 17-6-1952, namely, that he has misused his position as Congress M.L.A. and as a friend of Sri Mahatab by obtaining permits in the names of bogus companies in Orissa and reselling them in black-market and that hehad persuaded the Government to invest huge sums of money on some of the companies started by him thereby causing heavy loss to tax-payers. A special mention was made of the Kalinga Refrigerator Co. In the next issue dated 25-7-1952 also the same topic was discussed as will be clear from the extract given below.
'KRUSHAK. DATED, THE 25th JULY, 1952. ANOTHER NINE LAKHS OP RUPEES SHALL GO PROM THE ORISSA TREASURY.
A NEW DEVICE OF BIJAYANANDA PATNAIK.
AN ATTEMPT TO MAKE CHOUDHURY, THE
CHIEF MINISTER, AGREEABLE. Cuttack, 23.7.
A complicated situation has come up after India Government's refusal to finance to run the Kalinga Refrigerator Factory. Bijayananda Patnaik has approached the Orissa Government for nine lakhs of rupees pointing out that the factory cannot run unless at best another ten lakhs of rupees are given. None but one in Orissa Ministry agrees to the proposal. Bijayananda Patnaik with that Minister approached the Chief Minister and explained that there is little possibility of getting back the amount which the Orissa Government have already advanced to the company unless further amount be given. The Chief Minister has expressed neither his assent or dissent after hearing all these.
LET THERE BE ENQUIRY FIRST.
Let us leave what amount of the poor people of Orissa has already been spent, it is rather surprising how again device is being contrived to throw away further amount. Let there be an enquiry first regarding the machinery and instruments already in stock of the factory and also as to possibility of at best the amount the Government can recover out of ten lakhs already given.
It was declared on behalf of the Government in the assembly that the managers of the factory are arranging money and will run the factory in no time. Now the Government should inform how far the amount has been arranged and to what extent the proposal of running the factory has reached.
Nothing should be done in secret in such a big affair.'
5. Apparently, Sri Bijayananda Patnaik's patience became exhausted. On 12-8-1952 he served registered notices on the editors, printers and publishers of the two news-papers calling upon them to make amends for publishing defamatory articles against him and threatening them with legal proceedings if no satisfaction was given. The notices were received by them on 14-8-1952. The 'MATRUBHUMI' sent a reply dated 16-8-1952 in Which it requested Sri Bijayananda Patnaik to specify which portions of the articles were considered to be defamatory. The 'KRUSAK' also sent a reply on 20-8-1952 stating that the articles were published after careful enquiries from reliable sources so that the public might know the truth. Then Sri Bijayananda Patnaik filed a complaint (C. C. No. 787/52) on the 21st August in the Court of the Sub-divisional Magistrate of Cuttack against the editor, printer and publisher of 'MATRUBHUMI' and another complaint (C. C. No. 786/52) against the editor, printer and publisher of 'KRUSHAK' on the same date. We were informed that processes under Section 500, I.P.C.have been issued against these persona and the cases are still pending in the Court of a Magistrate at Cuttack.
6. It was alleged that after the receipt of the notice from Sri Bijayananda Patnaik both the-aforesaid newspapers published a series of articles extending over several dates, the contents of which were not only defamatory but had a tendency to prejudice the fair trial of the two defamation cases. The impugned articles in the 'KRUSHAK' (translated into English) are seven in number and they are as follows:
'KRUSHAK'. DATED THE 15th AUGUST, 1952. INDIA WIDE ENQUIRY AGAINST MAHATAB. AFTER THE ENQUIRY AT CUTTACK MANY NEW INFORMATIONS WERE AVAILABLE. PERMIT WORTH Rs. 70 LACS TO PATNAIK.
Reply of the Government of India to the-effect that the enquiry about the sale of permits is not yet over. Question in the Council of States with regard to the search of Mahatab's residence.
* * *LIST OF IMPORT LICENSES.
A list of import licenses given by Mahatab at one instalment to the Eastern Mercantile Corporation constituted by one young man Mayadhar Mohanty who is the Secretary of Mahatab, & Bijayananda Patnaik and others is in our hands. That is given below.
Imitationsilk yarn (resam). . .
Cotton twisted yarn
Maidaof superior quality . .
Imitationof silk yarn
Silkof inferior quality
In words (Rupees sixty nine lacs and fifty thousand only).
Now investigation is going on all over India as to commodities worth how many rupees which. was given to a Company in Orissa as import license in order to import goods from 'the' foreign countries where the said commodities were sold and who sold them.
INDIA WIDE INVESTIGATION AGAINSTMAHATAB.
D. o. letter written by Patnaik to Mahatab while getting these import licenses.
It is said that Mahatab promised to Bijayananda Patnaik that nobody else would be permitted like this to import goods of such nature. Patnaik can safely sell them in India, while Bijayananda Patnaik was carrying the import. licenses in a hot haste, he received a piece of sad news, some other businessmen managed. to do some sleight in the effect that some of' the said commodities were declared to be open general licence, that means import restrictions were waved out of the said commodities. Things so happened in Delhi that Mahatab was compelled to sign such an order. Receiving such information it is said that Bijayananda Patnaik. returned some of the import licences with a D.O. letter to Mahatab. The said D.O. letter is In the hands of the Government at present, and it discloses the relationship of Mahatab and Bijayananda. Then the Eastern Mercantile Corporation got back the import permit and carriedon some business. Investigation is now going on about the said matter.
Many substantial matters have come out of trifle searches.
* * *What the people are asking? Now the people Are asking each other.
1. Have these people got so much of capital to receive import licences worth seventy lacs?
2. What commodities have come to India?
3. What are the commodities which, have not at all seen the soil of India?
4. How much of income-tax has the said company paid to the Government when it received import licences worth so much?
5. Did any portion of the food stuffs like Suji and Maida come to Orissa?
6. If not, what happened to them?
7. It was published in newspapers that one of the ministers of the Government of Orissa fought his best at Delhi in order to issue some of the import licences in favour of the businessmen in Orissa. Did the Government of Orissa recommend to issue import licences worth so much money in favour of this company?
8. If not, did the Government of India issue such permit on proper investigation?
9. Did the licences which are said to have been returned go out of the share of Orissa?'
(2) ' 'KRUSHAK' DATED, THE 29th AUGUST, 1952. OBSTACLES IN THE INTEREST OF ORISSA AT HIRAKUND.
Secret collusion with Madras campany though contracts worth rupees two crores were undertaken in the name of the Oriyas.
The Government of India believes that the Orissa Firm got the work. Another story about Bijayananda Patnaik.
We have got some proofs regarding the happenings at Hirakud and the things being done in the names of the Oriyas. Uptil now the idea of the people of Orissa was that the party of Mahatab Bijayananda Patnaik were running business by taking lakhs of rupees from the poor tax payer in the name of the development of industry.
But they were not only industrialists but also they have undertaken contractory work of crores of rupees,
All sorts of things are going on in the name of 'Kalinga'.
Along with Kalinga refrigerator, Kalinga Airways and other works of Kalinga, the Kalinga Construction Company was established. That company first of all started the work Hirakund. Works are being entrusted to the Oriyas.
Vigorous objections were raised in the Parliament and Council of State in the month of July last that the Punjabi and people outside Orissa are getting the same. In reply thereto, the Minister of the Government of India said that the biggest work has been offered to the Kalinga company and it is a firm of Orissa.
On getting this reply the people must be anxious to know the actual whereabouts of this company. Bijayananda Patnaik is the founder of this company. In the year 1949, the company was favoured with works for the first time worth repees 67 lakhs. But no progress was made due to ignorance about works. 34 lakhs of rupees were sanctioned for the fourthgap of power channel. After lapse of few days alteration was made in the Hirakund project & the work entrusted to the company was suddenly closed. Thereby the company got opportunity to present any kinds of grievances.
Again earth-work of rupees 150,00,000.
Although no distinct progress of work was made by the company tender was opened on 25-12-1951.'
(3) ' 'KRUSHAK'. DATED THE 29th AUGUST 1953.
The acts of the Government of Orissa in the plea of development of industry. Don't throw dust in the eyes of the people confusing statements. Sarangadhar Das, Memeber of the Parliament insists to set up a Judicial Commission. Congratulation to 'Krushak' as it discloses true facts.
Sarangadhar Das, Member of the Parliament and leader of the Socialist-Praja Party in the house of Commons has given the following statements about the aims and objects of the Orissa Government.
Since last five or six years, the Government of Orissa is trying to establish work-shops like cloth factory, factory for ice box, work-shop for making petrol from coal, workshop for making tractors and work-shop for making steel pipes by giving lump sum of money to Bijayananda Patnaik the Pilot and rising industrialist, and 'Krushak' has been much praised by the tax payers of Orissa by bringing the most confidential (bhitiri) news to broad day light. I praise 'Krushak' for the same. The interest of the public is the chief interest and it is the duty of the newspapers to safeguard that interest.
'Krushak' has done its duty by' presenting the 'hak katha' before the public on minutely scrutinising the subject-matter and by sacrificing the wishes and interests of favourites. Let the public of Orissa and their representatives do their duties henceforward.
It is very hopeful that Dr. Parija and other leaders of the opposition party in Assembly have begun this work. I believe that they will try till the end to bring out the real fact.
From the publications made in the last few editions of the 'Krushak' I come to this conclusion that the Government of Orissa entrusted to anybody and anybody nominated by Orissa Congress and Harekrishna Mahatab, the entire amount contributed by the tax payers of Orissa, the entire donation of the India Government towards development as also the loans taken from the Government of India, even though such person was entirely a stranger in the affairs of trade, commerce and machinery etc. The Orissa Congress is silent in these circumstances. Harekrushna Mahatab has no zeal to read 'Krushak' and the present Orissa Government is also silent. Yes, to-day afternoon I read the Press note published in defence of the Orissa Government. There was no satisfactory reply.
When I was a member of the Orissa Legislative Assembly in the year 1948-49, I pointed during the discussions made in the Assembly that the people of Orissa should gain the knowledge of craftmanship of making the materials of daily use instead of going after manufacturing petrol and making tractors. After this, the question of petrol and tractor will come automatically. If you don't follow this prin-ciple, you will find that after 3 or 4 years crores of rupees have to be wasted for nothing. It is true that petrol workshop has not been established but RS. 6,00,000/- (six lakhs) hava been spent for its investigation and not a single report even available. Therefore the Government of India determined to extract petrol from the coals of Jharia. Workshop cannot be established due to scarcity of money. There is little possibility of establishing the workshop. On whose strength Harekrishna Mahatab and the Orissa Government gave this six lakhs of rupees without asking the Government of India? When and from whom the said money will be realised? The Government of Orissa is in traps. Again, in the year 1950, I invited the gentlemen who devoted themselves in the service of the public for the purpose of dismissing the matter' by pointing out of the misappropriationof Government's money in a book styled 'Government of Orissa is in trap'.
But neither during my speech in the Assembly nor in the year 1950, I have not heard anybody showing interest in the matter. The bureaucracy are treading on wherever they wish as public are not alive. Once I exposed the matter about corrugated-sheet of a person having equal status of a Congress Minister. But the then Prime Minister and the Congress leaders suppressed the matter. At that time the public did not utter a word. Let the public discuss the matter in an impartial way that has been published in the 'Krushak'. Then only the favouritism and playing with the money of the tax payers can be checked in future.
The Government does not give frank statement. The facts that an agreement was signed at the time of giving loan to the Orissa Textiles Ltd. and the particulars of the properties given a security have not been clearly stated in the Press Note published today by the Government of Orissa. I wanted to see that agreement during the time when the matter relating to this loan was discussed in the Board of Industries. But Narasimham Aiyangar, Chairman of the Board, said that agreement has been made and has been kept in the custody of the Government. It is not desirable to disclose it here. Why not the Government state definitely that an agreement has been made? How long Mahatab will throw dust in the eyes of the people toy giving collusive statements?
I urge as the representative of the public that let the Government publish the Audit Report of the year 1951 and let the public know as to
what is true and what is false.
There are some honest men in the Government and I respect them. For the welfare of those men, I urge that let a Judicial Commission of high status be appointed and let that commission state the real facts after investigating into these allegations.'
(4). ' 'KRUSHAK'. DATED THE 12th SEPTEMBER, 1952.
The conscious public will give the reply. The statement given by the Secretary to the Socialist Party, Orissa, about the suit against the paper.
Cuttack, 5-9- -- Bankabihari pas, the Secretary to the Socialist Party, Orissa, has given the following statement about the suits filed against Matrubhumi and Krushak. He has written -- I am not at all astonished to know about the defamation suit filed by Sri Harekrushna Mahatab against Matrubhumi Capi-talists and bankrupt politicians instead of opposing through newspapers any statement published in any paper take to such recourses. Now as the case has been instituted in a Court of law I have nothing to say about its consequences etc. The Court will ascertain the truth of it. But now it is a war cry for the newspapers and the public. The responsibility of disclosing all the facts relating to a politician like Mahatab lies with the public and the newspapers. The weekly newspaper Krushak also confronted with such a call from an industrialist who is a man of the Congress Party. The said suit is now pending for decision & as such, I have nothing to say with regard to that. The conscious public of Orissa will surely give its proper reply. The public and the newspapers of Orissa will surely help us in order to reveal all the facts before the Court.'
(5). ' 'KRUSHAK', DATED THE 12th SEPTEMBER, 1952.
Defamation suit filed by Bijayananda Patnaik. The bankers are unwilling to give him loans. He has alleged that the news published in the Krushak is false and baseless and it has damaged his reputation. The case is fixed for trial on the 22nd.'
(6). ''KRUSHAK', DATED THE 12th SEPTEMBER, 1952. Case against us.
Everybody in Orissa is aware of the fact that a defamation suit has been filed against Krushak. The allegation against us is that we have published some false and baseless news as a result of which the reputations of the persons concerned have been damaged. It will be known at the end of the suit what we have written; why we have written; from which source we have received the information; and whether we have written the same in order to guard the interest of the public or to defame individuals. If at all we have written anything in order to defame a particular individual then we should be punished by the Court. But if we have written anything in order to guard the interest of the public and to serve humanity then those who have alleged against us will be known by the people. The people must thank us because we have given them the opportunity to know everything while the case is continuing. Before the interest of the public the harm caused to an editor or the reputation of an individual, however rich or big he may be, is very meagre. Hence we consider ourselves fortunate being impleaded in such a suit
But we want to say one thing. The people who are incharge of the administration of Orissa today are much aware of their faults and weakness than ourselves. They always suspect that the people may know their secret affairs. The suspicion makes them perturbed. They shall be always careful to see that their opponents do not get justice. But for that we cannot lose our confidence from our judiciary. People should always have the confidence to get justice from the judiciary. We are sorry to admit that money is necessary in order to get justice in the present system of law that prevails. We believe that our readers and well-wishers will bear the cost that we would incur in order to summon the persons as witnesses by whom the real truth will be revealed. We are grateful to some of the pleader and advocate friends who have come forward to help us. Some of the famous citizens of Cuttack are trying to form a Committee known as the
'Krushak Atma Rakshya Committee' (Committee to save the interest of Krushak) and they are keeping letter correspondence with all classes of people in Orissa.
We request the public of Orissa to co-operate fully with the 'Krushak Atma Rakshya Committee' in order to publish truth.'
(7). ' 'KRUSHAK', DATED THE 12th SEPTEMBER, 1952.
Cases have been instituted against Krushak. This is not new. When Krushak was first published the Zamindars instituted cases against it and tried to make an end of it. But Krushak did not die. It gathered new strength out of that Zamindaries have been abolished. But a new type of blood has grown up. They have behind them either direct or indirect support of the Government machinery. They have spoiled and polluted our society and political life through vice and corruption. To-day they have focussed their eyes upon Krushak. They want to trouble Krushak and stop its publication.
Krushak is the paper of the Public. Its duty is to publish the public opinion strongly without any fear. Failing which there is no need of Krushak. Hence Krushak is publishing regularly all the flaws and injustices done in the Government sphere and general sphere. The capitalists and the party in power are trembling due to this. Their secret becomes out. Source of exploitation is being choked. They have not got the courage to say that the items published in the Krushak are false. They are unable to face the public straight.
The Court will decide the matter and the editor and publisher of Krushak will give its proper reply. It is not a thing to either win or lose a case. They are ready to make any sacrifice for truth. But money is necessary in order to contest a suit. It is impossible to continue a litigation without money. The Krushak has no financial strength. Its readers and well-wishers are its only strength. It is able to manage itself for so many years without any capital only by the help and support of them. So this attack upon Krushak is a challenge to them. Can they not save Krushak from the attacks of the capitalists?
A help fund is opened in order to save Krushak from such attacks. It is happy to note that some of the lawyer friends have volunteered to fight the suit. Still then we require much money. The readers and well-wishers will bear that. I believe, the friends of Krushak will try their best. They will send help very soon. They will give themselves and will collect from others. Everybody will give as much as he can. It matters very little whether the help becomes very small. If the amount is so small that it cannot be sent by money order then postal tickets may be sent. But it should be done quickly. If delayed will not help us in the present affairs. The readers of Krushak should show that the support of the people that stands behind Krushak can smash the pride of all the injustices of the country.'
7. The impugned articles in the 'MATRUBHUMI' (translated into English) are as follows:
(1). ' 'MATRUBHUMI', DATED THE 17th
Terrific conspiracy against Matrubhumi. Many industrialists and black-marketeers combinedand determined to make vigorous attemptsin this direction.
(From our own correspondent)
News of the terrific conspiracy of a combination of many capitalists, industrialists, black-marketeers and profiteers of Orissa to wipe out 'Matrubhumi' of its existence are now available from many sources. A deep sense of fear and disappointment has been created amongst the businessmen and industrialists who were carrying a black-marketing, as this newspaper exposed the corruption and malpractices of some anti-social elements. As a result they are determined to offer a combined resistance to this paper. A few days back some distinguished black-marketeers and 'Dalalls' of Orissa met in a two storied building near Chandnichauk crossing and prepared various plans as to how Matrubhumi could be rooted out of its existence. Majority of the gentlemen who gathered there expressed the opinion that publication of the paper would be stopped if a number of suits are filed simultaneously against the paper. Hence it is understood that it has been decided; to launch the attack like this at first.'
(2). ' 'MATRUBHUMI', DATED THE 20th
DANGEROUS IF TRUE
Mahatab's men took a cheque for Rs. l,00,000/-The enquiry started by the Central C.I.D. against some big businessmen has almost come to an end. The name of the ex-Minister of Commerce and Industries, Government of India was connected with the allegations regarding which the enquiry was conducted. It has been published in the 'Indian Life', a weekly paper of Calcutta, that the Central Police has sought the permission of the Home Minister to arrest these persons. Those who offered bribe will be arrested at first. They will be detained till the Preventive Detention Act receives the assent of the President.
In the meantime, it is understood that Dr. Meghnad Sana and Sri A. K. Gopalan, the leader of the Communist Group will raise this question in the coming session of the Parliament.
A business organisation named Kisandas Purushottamdas, located at No. 2, Royal Exchanged Place, Calcutta, handed over a cheque of Rs. 1,00,000/- to a man of the Minister of Commerce and Industries on 15-12-1951 as a bribe. This cheque was to be drawn in the United Commercial Bank.'
(3). ' 'MATRUBHUMI', DATED THE 23rd
DEFAMATION OF BIJAYANANDA AS A
MEMBER OF THE TREASURY BENCH OF
THE CONGRESS GOVERNMENT.
It is understood that the Editor and the Publisher of Matrubhumi have been summoned to be present in the Court on 10-9-1952 after the affidavit was sworn yesterday in the defamation suit filed by the Congress M.L.A. Sri Bijayananda Patnaik against the Editor and the Publisher of the paper.
Mr. Patnaik has said in his examination before the Court that the article published in the Matrubhumi not only defames him personally but also as a member of the Congress Treasury Bench.'
(4). ''MATRUBHUMI', DATED THE 5th SEPTEMBER, 1952.,
PEOPLE TO REPLY.
There was no necessity of another daily newspaper in view of the fact that there are many newspapers and periodicals being published in Grissa and that there are more than one daily paper in the town of Cuttack. But we announced at the time when Matrubhumi was started and also announce it now that people felt the necessity of an out-spoken newspaper like 'Matrubhumi' as it had become necessary to draw the attention of the public to all the drawbacks of the administration without any party affiliation, The readers of Matrubhumi in this State will bear testimony and the popularity that the paper has earned during the short period of its existence will bear proof of how the paper has progressed in its path of duty towards fulfilment of this purpose, without any sense of fear and perturbance. We have attributed many faults to different persons at the helm of the administration by repeatedly giving publication to the corrupt practices that entered into the fabrics of the administration and caused much harm rather than benefit to the administration. We will remain steadfast in this path as long as drawbacks and corruption have not disappeared from the country.
Matrubhumi has no necessity for its existence if it does not publish the gross misuse of 'power practised by the peope in authority. But Matrubhumi has now to face the wrath of people holding the destiny of Utkal in their hands. A leader of Orissa once out of anger towards Matrubhumi spoke out -- 'People to respond to this'. If the Editor of Matrubhumi committed a sin by publishing without any hope of self-aggrandisement or any evil intention and with an intent to serve the motherland, the drawbacks and malpractices of people at the top of the machinery of administration who are engaged in activities prejudicial to the interest of the people, then the country will surely take it as its own sin and in the language of the said leader, the people will respond to that.'
(5). ''MATRUBHUMI', DATED THE 7th SEPTEMBER, 1952.
VIGILANT POPULACE TO RESPOND.
Statement of the Secretary of the Orissa Socialist Party regarding the case against newspapers.
Sri Bankabehari Das, Secretary of the Orissa Socialist Party has issued the following statement regarding the suits filed against Matrubhumi and Krushak.
He writes -- I am not at all surprised at the news that Sri Harekrushna Mahatab has filed a defamation suit against Matrubhumi. Capitalists and bankrupt politicians take recourse to this method without having courage to contradict the published news through newspaper. Now I have nothing to say regarding the nature and consequence of the suit after it has been filed in the Court. The Court will ascertain its veracity. But now it is a 'war cry' to newspapers and the public. The responsibility of placing all facts regarding a politician like Mahatab before the Court is now placed on the Public and newspapers. Krushak the weekly paper of our party has also been confronted with such a 'war cry' from a Congress industrialist.
The case is now under trial & therefore I have nothing to express my opinion on that. The awakened public of Orissa will surely give asuitable reply to this. The public and the newspapers of Orissa will surely render all possible help in presenting all facts before the Court.'
(6). ' 'MATRUBHUMI', DATED THE 8th SEPTEMBER, 1952.
MATRUBHUMI WILL REMAIN UNPERTURBED.
Service of countrymen is its ultimate aim.
In the meantime more than one law suits have been filed against Matrubhumi in Courts. All are more or less aware of the history of simultaneous attacks on all sides launched against our Matrubhumi (motherland) and of how Matrubhumi (motherland) was torn to pieces by them. Even now after the independence of the country was achieved merciless attacks are going on all sides against the sentiments of Matrubhumi (motherland) and it is a matter of regret that some self-styled leaders who were brought up with the bread of our motherland and called themselves as her servants and devotees are helping like a handle to an axe. They are thinking of their personal interest of making their position higher and higher by hook or crook to be bigger than the national interest.
Singbhum has gone out of Orissa as a result of this sort of self-aggrandisement on their part. Basta, Jashpur and other territories in the west have been taken out. Similarly many places inhabited by Oriyas in the south have been captured by the province of Madras. Sareikela and Kharswan have escaped out of our clutches even though they were one day with us. Over and above that the political Orissa has raised its head as a separate State in independent India along with the ex-States. But within the State there is no limit to the oppression of the non-Oriyas on the Oriyas in broad day-light.
If we consider likewise, the prestige of our mother-land is being jeopardised in broad daylight before everyobody and in every moment. Matrubhumi was started to expose those whitewashed people who while in the seat of the leaders are encouraging that, before everybody. Otherwise, there was no necessity of 'Matrubhumi' when there were more than one daily and weekly newspapers and periodicals. Numerous readers of Matrubhumi might have known how far 'Matrubhumi' has been successful in fulfilling that purpose with which it appeared before the public during the short period of its existence. Matrubhumi is determined to endure smilingly the thunderous attacks from any quarters while exposing those people who are polluting the limited present and the vast future of the country and the nation by their preference for their self-interest to the interest of the country. Its definite move towards its goal will by no means be affected nor can it ever be. It is not to her lot to retreat if somebody thinks that 'Matrubhumi' had defamed him while trying to preserve the honour of the country and the nation. Rather it will devote itself completely with redoubled vigour to the service of the dumb millions. This is the last and the greatest promise of Matrubhumi to her countrymen in these days of her distress.'
(7). 'MATRUBHUMI'. DATED THE 8th SEPTEMBER 1952.
GRAND-FATHER AND GRAND-SON FARCE.
Grandson Who are, now-a-days, thinkingdefamed?Grandfather Those who had never, nor hasany nor shall have any fame.'
(8) 'MATRUBHUMI'. DATED THE 11th SEPTEMBER, 1952.
In an independent country the responsibilities of the newspapers are very great. The principal duty of a newspaper is to point out to the people of the country all the defects and flaws of the administrative machinery and to guide them on the right path by criticising the defects and drawbacks of the society. There is no necessity for a newspaper to continue its publication unless it serves this purpose. But while proceeding forward with such an aim it is but natural that anti-social forces must try their best to make an end of the newspaper.
Some of the newspapers, while discharging its duty today have become the object of annoyance of somebody and the others may be like that to-morrow. Under such circumstances the newspapers and the journalists should make a joint effort to fight against injustice ('anyaya').
Four cases have been instituted against Matrubhumi and Krushak. It is expected that some more may be instituted in future. All progressive newspapers' and journalists should consider the case instituted against Krushak to be their own case and should make a joint attempt to see that the newspapers do not die out.
Hence we propose that the people of the country should constitute immediately a committee in order to resist such acts. Signature:
Sri Binod Kanungo, the Editor ofKrushak.Sri Nityananda Singh, the Editor ofJanamata.Sri Nityananda Mohapatra, theEditor of Dogor.Sri K. N. Acharya, the Editor ofOrissa First.Sri Godabaris Mohapatra, the Editorof Niakhunta.Sri Raghu Rout, the Editor of SataKatha.'(9). ''MATRUBHUMI', DATED THE 13th SEPTEMBER, 1952.
A PROBLEM FOR ALL NEWSPAPERS.
A combined effort is necessary against thehowling of Congress.
Mohan Das, the Editor of 'Nua Dunia' states:
Sri Mahatab has demanded a defamation worth one lakh of rupees against Matrubhumi and also had filed a similar suit against Krushak. At this, we presented our own views in a statement. But it was not published in apprehension that somebody may interprete as contempt of Court.
We do not mean to contempt the Court nor to any associated person. It is not fair to comment upon a suit under trial. But we do want that every truth should come out to light immediately. Let the real culprit be punished. Every newspaper as well as the public of Orissa must wish it. That is why everybody should be cooperative.
Because this is a new incident generally all sorts of news regarding the political persons come to light. Thereby their fame and influence either increases or decreases. For this, generally nobody goes to Court but enlighten the whole truth through newspapers. But the Congress leaders, failing therein, now run to the Court and establish a new precedent in politics.
Well, Court will clarify everything. Therefore the contesting parties, without feeling shy, should place all the true facts. But Congress thinks that by so threatening the newspapers will be subdued. By threatening one, the others will be suppressed, people will be frightened, would not come forward to speak the truth and they will be taking the bait. For that it is learnt, the Provincial Congress Secretary is trying his best on behalf of the Congress institution.
So it is not a question of a single individual newspaper. It is a problem to all the newspapers -- a matter for the whole mass, a matter for all people who want the truth to come out. Because, truth alone can safeguard the public interest. Therefore, all the newspapers, the whole mass of people should unite. Let an immediate combined effort be made in that direction -- this is our only appeal.'
(10). ' 'MATRUBHUMI', DATED THE 16th SEPTEMBER, 1952.
It is quite clear from those suits that have been filed against Matrubhumi and Krushak in the Criminal and Civil Courts along with, the threats for such other suits to follow, that some persons and groups with vested interest who occupy the high offices of this State are trying their utmost to give such a kick on the heads of those newspapers and magazines that are slowly rising to the surface in order to safeguard the public interest that they will be crushed down to earth -- not to speak of their upliftment. Therefore, it is the duty of the public to save these newspapers, and magazines who are serving the peoples' interest, from this immediate danger. For that our combined effort is necessary. There will be a meeting to discuss the extent of public duty towards it and to decide a combined line of action. So it is requested that you all should attend this meeting and oblige.'
8. Though the 'KRUSHAK' and the 'MATRUBHUMI' are two different papers it was considered convenient to hear the contempt proceedings against both of them jointly. They were both represented by one counsel and the offending articles all deal essentially with the same subject, namely, the defamation cases brought by Sri Bijayananda Patnaik against them and his activities as a Congressman and as an industrialist of Orissa.
9. Mr. B. M. Patnaik who appeared on behalf of Sri Bijayananda Patnaik to support the rule argues that the aforesaid articles have a tendency to prejudice the fair trial of the two defamation cases in the following two ways:
(i) Some of them by asserting as true the allegations made in the original articles which were the subject-matter of the defamation cases prejudge the very points for decision by the Criminal Court;
(ii) All the articles have a tendency to prejudice the public of Orissa in general and the public of Cuttack in particular against Sri Bijayananda Patnaik and to mobilise opinion in 'favour of the aforesaid newspapers by making it appear as if they were the innocent victims of persecution from Sri Bijayananda Patnaik and other black-marketeers and swindlers of Orissa.
Mr. Patnaik urged that the contempt would come under the following two of the three classes of contempt defined in the oft-quoted saying of LordHardwick -- 'St. James's Evening Post case', (1742) 2 Atk 469 (A):
(i) abusing parties who were concerned in cases;
(ii) prejudicing mankind against persons before the cause is heard.
10. Before discussing each of the aforesaid, articles I may briefly refer to the law relating to this class of contempt. There is no doubt about the proposition that when a case is pending or imminent any matter published in a newspaper which has a tendency to prejudice one of the parties or to, mobilise public opinion in favour of a rival party would amount to contempt. In the well known Tichborne case --'Tichborne v. Tichborne', (1870) 39 L J Ch 398 (B), this class of contempt was emphasised as follows:
'......whatever tends to prejudice a cause, whatever matter is published to the world, referring to the parties to the litigation, and to the subject-matter of it, in such a way as to excite a prejudice against them, or their litigation, is a contempt of Court.'
Again in -- 'In re, Crown Bank', (1890) 44 Ch D 649 (C), a newspaper which deliberately took one side in a controversy in respect of a pending proceeding was punished for contempt of Court. Similarly, in -- 'Russell v. Russell', (1894) 11 TLR 38 (D), an article in a newspaper which cast reflection on a party in a pending case........ 'ina manner calculated to excite prejudice against her' was held to be contempt. In -- 'William Thomas Shipping Co., In re', (1930) 99 L J Ch 560 at p. 564 (E), Lord Maugham summed up the law as follows:
'I think that to publish injurious misrepresentations directed against a party to the action, especially when they are holding up that party to hatred or contempt, is liable to affect the course of justice, because it may, in the case of a plaintiff, cause him to discontinue the action from fear of public dislike, or it may cause the defendant to come to a compromise which he otherwise would not come to, for a like reason.'
11. There are several Indian decisions which follow the aforesaid rule. I may refer to --'Sathappa Chettiar v. Ramachandra', AIR 1932 Mad 26 (P); -- 'Bibhabati Devi v. Ramendra', AIR. 1939 Cal 672 (SB) (G); -- 'Supdt. & Rembr, Legal Affairs Bihar v. Murli Manohar', AIR 1941 Pat 185 (H) and -- 'Emperor v. Khushal Chand', AIR -1945 Lah 260 (I).
12. But it should be observed that authoritieshave sounded a note of caution against unduestraining of the law of contempt. As early as1889 in -- 'Hunt v. Clarke', (1889) 58 L J Q B 480(J), it was pointed out that the Court would notexercise its extraordinary power of committal forcontempt if the offence complained of is of aslight or trifling nature, but only if it is likely tocause 'substantial' prejudice to the parties to theaction. This was followed in -- 'Queen v. Payneand Cooper', (1896) 1 QBD 577 (K). In India alsoin -- 'Anantalal Singh v. Alfred Henery Watson',AIR 1931 Cal 257 (L), the same view was heldand in a recent decision of the Supreme Courtreported in -- 'Rizwan-Ul-Hasan v. State of UttarPradesh', AIR 1953 SC 185 (M), the same aspectwas emphasised in the following words:
'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.'
13. Where a pending case in respect of which (contempt is alleged to have been committed is acase of defamation and the person alleged to have been defamed is a politician, other important questions also arise for consideration. Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and the Press should have freedom to criticise the activities of public men belonging to one party or the other. Not infrequently a politician who does not want his public activities to be exposed may institute a criminal case of defamation in respect of an article appearing against him in a newspaper and then resort to the law of contempt for the purpose of gagging all hostile comments on his other public activities, while keeping the defamation case pending as long as possible. Hence, though any attempt of trial by the Press of a pending case should be sternly put down by enforcing the law of contempt, in appropriate cases the said law should not be so strained as to materially affect the freedom of speech of newspapers. A line has to be drawn between the law of contempt on the one hand and the freedom of speech of the newspapers on the other. Where an article is published with the 'intention' of prejudicing the fair trial of a pending case, there can be no hesitation in applying the law of contempt against the offending newspaper. But where such intention is absent and the Court is asked to infer that the article has a 'tendency to prejudice the fair trial of a pending case many other considerations should also be carefully weighed.
This question came up for consideration in --'Rex v. Blumenfeld', (1912) 28 T L R 308 at p. 310 (N). There one Captain Tupper who claimed to be a public worker brought a libellous action against the 'Daily Express' In respect of certain articles which appeared in the same and the editorial comments thereon. After the commencement of the action the 'Daily Express' published another article derogatory to his character and described him as a mere 'soldier of fortune'. The second article doubtless did not deal with the merits of the case but it had undoubtedly a tendency to affect the quantum of damages in the libellous action. Justice Phillimore observed:
'Of course, there were limits to the right of free speech, and no doubt articles or statements made near the time of the trial, especially on the eve of the trial or made at a place near in point of locality, were calculated to create an atmosphere unfavourable to one of the parties by deterring witnesses from coming forward and speaking their minds freely or by warning the minds of the jurymen, and these should be deemed an interference with the course of justice, and should be restrained by the wholesome exercise of the jurisdiction of the Court. But it was quite another thing to say that a man could procure himself protection for life from the exposure of his character by the issue of a writ.'
His Lordship then stated:
'Where the defendant swore he was going to justify the words of the alleged libel the Court would not grant a rule in a case of this bind unless it saw that the justification was an idle one and not genuine. Here the defendants had averred that they were prepared to justify at the risk of the damages against them being thereby inflamed, and that they were solvent and able to pay damages. Of course, that did not necessarily touch upon the question of the interference with a fair trial. The Court had to reconcile two things -- namely, the right of free speech and the public advantage that a knave should be exposed, and the right of anindividual suitor to have his case fairly tried. The only way in which the Court could save both was to refuse an unlimited extension of either right. It became, then, a question of degree.'
His Lordship further stated while referring to the plaintiff:
'While he was a public man he was the subject of public comment; he must retire into private life; as long as he remained what he was he could not complain of comment which would be made at the risk of paying damages.'
In -- 'Rex v. Editor of the Daily Mail', (1928) 44 T L R 303 (O), the same subject was fully discussed and it was observed by the Lord ChiefJustice;
'A publication made with the clear intention of prejudicing the fair trial of an issue pending before a Court was obviously a contempt of Court, and would be punished as such. But where the Court was satisfied that there was no such intention, and yet the publication was one which might conceivably prejudice a pending trial, the circumstances of the particular case must be taken into account. The nature of the proceedings which were pending, the conduct of the parties, the time, the manner, and the locality of the publication in relation to the time, the mode, and the locality of the trial had all to be considered and the Court must be satisfied that a case for its 'arbitrary and summary interference' had been made out.'
These observations apply with great force in thepresent case inasmuch as the political activitiesof Sri Bijayananda Patnaik are closely connectedwith his industrial ventures. In the articles alleged to be defamatory there is a clear suggestion that it was by virtue of his position as a Congress member of the Assembly and his friendship with Sri Harekrushna Mahatab that he was able to obtain permits for controlled commodities and make profits by selling the same and also to persuade the Government to finance several of his companies.
The 'KRUSHAK', in reply to the registered notice of Sri Bijayananda Patnaik, had stated, that the publications were made in public interest and that it would be able to substantiate the same in Court. An anti-Congress paper is undoubtedly entitled, in exercise of the right of freedom of speech, to carry on its agitation against what it considers to be the undesirable activities of a Congress member subject of course to the right of the aggrieved person to seek redress against the paper in the Criminal Court or Civil Court if the articles offended the law of defamation. But where a paper asserts that what it has said in a previous publication is true and that it was made in public interest and is ready to justify its action in the Criminal Court it will not be proper to use the law of contempt to stifle all criticisms of the activities on the ground that the previous publication was intended to prejudice the fair trial of the case or else that it has substantially such a tendency.
In this connection the unexplained delay of nearly two months in bringing the Criminal case of defamation against 'MATRUBHUMI' cannot be wholly ignored. The defamatory article appeared on 17-8-1952 and Sri Bijayananda Patnaik's criminal complaint for defamation againstthe paper was made only on the 21st August. In the mean time, several other articles had appeared both in 'KRUSHAK' and 'MATRUBHUMI' notonly against his activities but also against thoseof Sri Harekrushna Mahatab. It was strenuously contended by Mr. A. Das on behalf of the newspapers that the criminal cases of defamation were not bona fide but that they were instituted with a view to gag the mouth of the anti-Congress papers against exposure of activities of some of the Congressmen of Orissa by threat of initiating proceedings for contempt of Court when they found that their activities were likely to be fully exposed.
I do not wish to say anything definite in respect of this argument inasmuch as it might affect the fair trial of the defamation cases now pending in the Court of a Magistrate at Cuttack. But the absence of any explanation for the delay in instituting the defamation cases is a factor which cannot be ignored in considering whether one of the objects, if not the main object, of instituting the defamation cases, was to stifle hostile criticism in respect of the other public activities of Sri Bijayananda Patnaik under threat of contempt of Court.
14. Bearing in mind the aforesaid principles the following two questions have to be considered while scrutinising the offending articles:
(i) Do they indicate a clear intention of prejudicing a fair trial of the defamation case? or else,
(it) Do they have a tendency to so prejudicethat trial?
If there is no intention to prejudice a fair trial the various other circumstances fully dealt with in the judgment of Lord Chief Justice in --'(1928 44 T L R 303 (O)' have to be taken into
account in deciding whether:
(a) there was, in fact, contempt and
(b) whether it was technical or real and substantial.
15. I shall now discuss each of the offendingarticles in turn.
16. 'KRUSHAK' 1st article. -- This appeared on 15-8-1952 after the receipt of the notice from Sri Bijayananda Patnaik but prior to the filing of his complaint. It gives full information about various other permits said to have been given to Sri Bijayananda Patnaik by the Government of India and the investigation that was conducted by the Central Police Department. I do not think that there was sny intention to prejudice the trial of the defamation case which was then imminent nor can it be reasonably held that there was such a tendency. The newspaper was entitled to expose what it considered to be the undesirable activities of Sri Bijayananda Patnaik subiect of course to the penalties which it was willirg to incur under the law of defamation if the allegations were found to be untrue.
17. 'KRUSHAK' '2nd article' -- This is a general article about the sacrifice of the interests of Orissa in Hirakund construction. There is also a reference to a company started by Sri Bijayananda Patnaik which managed to secure contracts for sixty or seventy lakhs of rupees at Hirakund for construction work and transferred them to a Madras firm. In the articles of 'Krushak' which were subject-matter of the (sic)amation case there was no mention at all of the activities of Sri Bijayananda Patnaik in Hirakund construction. Consequently, this article of the 29th August could not. in any way, prejudice the trial of any fact in issue in the defamation case.
Doubtless, if the allegations in this case are false it may prejudice the activities of Sri Bijayananda Patnaik in the eyes of the public. Butas he is a public worker and a member of theAssembly, newspapers are entitled to criticise his other activities at the risk of paying damages if the articles were found, to be defamatory. The observations of Justice Phillimore distinguished in-- '(1912) 28 T L R 308 (N)' are Quite apposite in this connection.
18. 'KRUSHAK' '3rd article'. -- This articlecontains the statement of Sri Sarangadhar Das, a member of Parliament from Orissa and leader of the Socialist-Praja Party in the Parliament. Any statement from him would necessarily carry great weight not only with the general public but also with the Court which may have to hear the defamation case. In his statement he clearly stated that the Government of Orissa gave large sums of money to Sri Bijayananda Patnaik for starting various industries in Orissa and he commended 'Krushak' for having brought to light all secret matters (bhitiri katha) relating to that subject. He also stated that the chief interest of 'Krushak' was the interest of public. He further added
' 'Krushak' had done its duty by presenting the true facts (hak katha) before the public on minutely scrutinising the subject-matter and by sacrificing the wishes and interests of the favourites.'
The other portions of the article contain a severe attack on the administration of the Congress Government in Orissa and are not very relevant for our purpose. The statement ends with a request for appointment of a Judicial Committee to enquire into the activities of some of the leading Congressmen of Orissa. One of the mainpoints for consideration by the trying Magistrate in the defamation case is whether the facts stated in the articles in 'Krushak' dated 18-7-1952 and 25-7-1952 dealing with the allegations against Sri Bijayananda Patnaik are trueor not. Thus when this question is sub-judice a statement by such a responsible member of the Parliament as Sri Sarangadhar Das who is leader of the Socialist-Praja Party to the effect that 'Krushak' had renderedservice to the public by bringing out to broad dav light the most secret matters is bound to carry great weight with the public who read the statement. There is no indication that Sri Sarangadhar Das was aware of the fact that a defamation case had been instituted against 'Krushak' by SriBijayananda Patnaik. But the editor, printer and publisher of that paper were fully aware of the same. While publishing the statement of Sri Sarangadhar Das the editor stated that Sarangadhar Das was congratulating 'Krushak' for disclosing true facts (hak katlia).
Doubtless the primary 'intention' in publishing this statement appears to be to agitate for appointment of a Judicial Committee to enquire into the activities of certain Congressmen including Sri Harekrushna Mahatab and Sri Bijayananda Patnaik and not to prejudice the fair trial of the defamation cases. But the 'tendency' toprejudice the trial is fairly inferable bearing in mind the political importance of Sri Sarangadhar Das & the assertion that 'Krushak' had published true facts. I would, therefore, hold that this article amounts to contempt of Court.
19. 'Krushak'. '4th article'. -- This article contains a statement from one Banka Beheri Das, Secretary of the Socialist Party of Orissa about the defamation cases filed against 'Matrubhumi' and 'Krushak'. There is nothing in it to which exception can be taken. The writer carefullyavoided discussion of the merits of the case by saying that they were sub judice and that the Court would ascertain the truth. He just appealed to the public and the newspapers of Orissa to help in revealing all the facts before the Court. A general appeal of this type without in any way touching the merits of the case would not amount to contempt, see -- 'In re, New Gold Coast Exploration, (1901) 1 Ch. 860 (P)', following --'Plating Co. v. Farquharson', (1881) 17 Oh. D. 49 (Q).
20. 'Krushak'.' '6th article'. -- This is an article about the defamation case filed against 'Krushak' by Sri Bijayananda Patnaik. The writer is careful enough not to say that the alleged defamatory article contained a true statement of facts, though he attempted to show that the 'Krushak'is being victimised by the people in charge of the administration of Orissa. There is a general appeal for funds for defending 'Krushak' in that litigation. This article also will not amount to contempt for the reasons given in para 19 dealing with the fourth article.
22. 'Krushak'. '7th article'. -- This is an appeal by Sri Surendranath Dwibedi, a member of Parliament and a prominent leader of the Socialist Party of Orissa. Though it is a general appeal for funds for defending 'Krushak' in the defamation case there are clear statements to the effect that the alleged defamatory article published by 'Krushak' contained a true statement of facts. The following passage is of special significance.
'Krushak is the paper of the public. Its dutyis to publish the public opinion strongly without any fear. Failing which there is no need ofKrushak. Hence Krushak is publishing regularly all the flaws and injustices done in theGovernment sphere and general sphere. Thecapitalists and the party in power are tremblingdue to this. Their secret becomes out. Sourceof exploitation is being choked. They have notgot the courage to say that the items publishedin the Krushak are false. XX XXXX XX the editor andpublisher of Krushak will give its proper reply.It is not a big thing either to win or lose acase. 'They are ready to make any sacrificefor truth, X XX Thereaders of Krushak should show that the support of the people that stands behind Krushakcan smash the pride of all the injustices of thecountry.'
This statement seems to pre-judge one of the mainpoints for decision by the trying Magistratein the defamation case. It asserts vehementlythat Krushak was ready to sacrifice anything fortruth and that its accusers have not the courageto say that the items published in the Krushakwere false and that it published the flaws andinjustices not only of the Government but. of thecapitalists. The statement opens with a referenceto the case against 'Krushak' and in the contextthe 'capitalists' referred to can be none else butSri Bijayananda Patnaik and his friends. Theexpression 'political life though vice and corruption' also in the context seems to refer to him andhis group. Doubtless, in this article an 'intention'to pre-judge the trial cannot be fairly inferredbecause primarily it is an appeal for funds for'Krushak' which was described as a martyr for anoble cause. But the 'tendency' to prejudice the,fair trial of the pending case is apparent bearingin mind the important position of Sri SurendraNath Dwibedi as a leader of the SocialistParty of Orissa. I would hold that this articleamounts to contempt. A
23. 'Matrubhumi', '1st article'. -- This article is too general. It was published before the defamation case was instituted. It will be too farfetched to say that the article refers to Sri Bijayananda Patnaik.
24. 'Matrubhumi'. 2nd article'. -- This article cannot amount to contempt. It refers merely to the enquiries made by the Central C.I.D. and what further action the Government of India was likely to take on the basis of those enquiries. There is nothing in it either about the impending case of defamation or about the truth or otherwise of the allegations made in the defamatory article dated 17-6-1952.
25. 'Matrubhumi'. '3rd article'. -- This article is only a summary of the affidavits sworn by Sri Bijayananda Patnaik in the defamation case. It has no tendency to prejudice the fair trial of that case.
26. 'Matrubhumi'. '4th article'. -- This article is under the caption 'People to reply'. It is of a general nature explaining the aims and objects of 'Matrubhumi' and how it was all along drawing the attention of the public to the drawbacks in the administration without any party affiliation. There is no reference to the defamation case brought by Sri Bijayananda Patnaik either expressly or by implication. In my opinion, this article would not amount to contempt.
27. 'Matrubhumi'. '5th article'. -- This article is under the caption 'Vigilant populace to respond'. It contains the statement of Sri Banka Behari Das, Secretary of the Orissa Socialist Party. I have discussed this statement while discussing the case against Krushak in which paper also the same article appeared. This article does not amount to contempt.
28. 'Matrubhumi'. '6th article'. -- This article is under the heading 'Matrubhumi will remain unperturbed'. Service of countrymen is its ultimate aim'. The first sentence in the article refers to more than one law suits filed against Matrubhumi in law Courts. The editor has attempted to justify the publishing of the alleged defame tory articles by saying that he was exposing those who were defaming their mother land. He further states
'Matrubhumi is determined to endure smilingly the thunderous attacks from any quarters while exposing those people who are polluting the limited present and the vast future of the country and the nation by their preference for their self-interest to the interest of the country'.
There is a clear suggestion in this article with special reference to the case brought against 'Matrubhumi' that the paper was merely exposing the misdeeds of certain group of people who in the context would mean none else but the complainant of this case. There is thus an assertion of one of the main facts to be determined during the trial of the defamation case and consequently the article as a whole may amount to contempt.
29. 'MATRUBHUMI'. '7th article'. -- This is an imaginary conversation between a grandfather and his grandson. There is a reference to the fact that persons who have no fame now-a-days think themselves to be defamed. It was printed not in the ordinary columns of the newspaper but in the column headed 'wit and humour'. There may be doubtless difference of opinion as to whether such an imaginary conversation is really 'wit or humour'. But any reader with a sense of humour will not be prejudiced against Sri Bijayananda Patnaik in the defamation case merely by reading this article. In my opinion it does not amount to contempt.
30. 'MATRUBHUMI'. '8th article'. -- This is an article signed by several persons for financing, 'Krushak' and 'Matrubhumi' in the litigation launched against them by anti-social forces. There is doubtless a reference to the necessity of newspapers and journalists making a common cause to fight against injustice. But the appeal is of a general nature and I think it will be too farfetched to say that it asserts as true the very facts which have to be determined by the Court in the defamation case. The contempt, if any, is of extremely technical nature and I would not take any notice of it.
31. 'MATRUBHUMI'. '9th article'. -- This article is primarily directed against the defamation suit brought by Sri Harekrushna Mahatab in the Civil Court against 'Matrubhumi' claiming one lakh of rupees as damages and not against the criminal case of defamation brought by Sri. Bijayananda Patnaik. I do not think it will amount to contempt in respect of the latter case,
32. 'MATRUBHUMI'. '10th article'. -- This is also a general appeal by three persons for funds for defending 'Matrubhumi' in civil and criminal cases that had been instituted against it. There is no suggestion in the appeal to the effect that the alleged defamatory articles which appeared in. the aforesaid newspapers contained a true statement of facts. Hence this article will not prejudice the fair trial of the defamation cases and consequently will not constitute contempt.
33. To sum up, therefore, two articles in the 'Krushak' dated 29-8-1952 and 12-9-1952 containing the statements of Sri Sarangadhar Das and Sri S. N. Dwibedi tend to prejudice the fair trial of the defamation case then pending against 'Krushak'. Of all the articles in the 'Matrubhumi' the only article that would constitute contempt is the article dated 8-9-1952. Doubtless, none of these articles either in the 'Krushak' or in the 'Matrubhumi' can be reasonably held to have been written with the intention of prejudicing the fair trial of the two defamation cases. But they undoubtedly have such a tendency. The contempt committed by 'Matrubhumi', however, is less grave than that committed by 'Krushak' inasmuch as the offending article did not purport to have been written by prominent Socialist leaders so as to carry any extra weight. I do not think that either the public or the law Courts will be materially influenced by the article dated 8-9-1952 which appeared in 'Matrubhumi'. But the two offending articles in 'Krushak' might have a serious effect in view of the fact that Sri Sarangadhar Das and Sri Surendra Nath Dwibedi being members of the Parliament, their statements suggesting that the defamatory articles contained a true statement of facts might affect the decision of the trying Magistrate.
But it should also be remembered that the contempt was committed at a time when the cases were in their initial stages. Processes had just been issued against the accused persons and nobody knew at that time when the cases would come up for trial.
We were informed at the Bar that though more than one year and four months have elapsed since the institution of the two defamation cases the trial is still in the initial stages in the Court of a Magistrate at Cuttack. The undue pendency of criminal cases in the files of Magistrates at Cuttack and the frequency of transfers of Magistrates are too notorious to be said that the Magistrate who may eventually try these cases wouldhave read the offending articles which appeared in August and September, 1952 and would approach the cases with a prejudiced mind. Doubtless, the tendency to deter witnesses from coming forward and speaking on behalf of the complainant is, to some extent, present. But considerable time mustelapse before they give evidence and It is not probable that persons who might have read the offending articles would have clear recollection of them at the time of giving their evidence. On the whole, therefore, though I am loathe to characterise the contempt committed by 'Krushak' as very technical I would not take a very serious view of the offence.
34. I would, therefore, while making the rule absolute against the editor, printer and publisher of 'Matrubhumi' direct that no punishment need be imposed on them but that they should jointly pay Rs. 50/- as costs to petitioner Sri Bijaya-nanda Patnaik. Similarly, no punishment need be imposed on the editor, printer and publisherof 'Krushak' but they should jointly pay Rs. 100/-as costs to petitioner Sri Bijayananda Patnaik. In addition to the aforesaid costs we would further direct that the editor, printer and publisher of the 'Krushak' should jointly pay the costs incurred by' Sri Bijayananda Patnaik in publishing the requisite notices in the Press regarding Sri Sarangadhar Das and Sri S. N. Dwibedi.
35. I agree.