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Amarnath Sawan Mal Vs. Joginder Singh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal;Contempt of Court
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Original No. 25 of 1959
Judge
Reported inAIR1961P& H18; 1961CriLJ146
ActsContempt of Courts Act, 1952 - Sections 2 and 3; Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) - Sections 491
AppellantAmarnath Sawan Mal
RespondentJoginder Singh and ors.
Appellant Advocate M.R. Sharma and; S.S. Mahajan, Advs.; K.S. Kwatra, A
Respondent Advocate Bhagirath Das, Adv.
Cases Referred(Vide Blankenburg v. Commonwealth
Excerpt:
.....raj bad merely been called for interrogation on 19th and 20th june 1959, he persisted, that sukhdev raj had not been kept in detention after 20th june 1959. it is difficult to take a lenient view of this conduct of sub-inspector sunder das, as the evils that are likely to follow in the wake of any condonation, palliation or lenity, could be disastrous in the extreme......to the city magistrate, duty magistrate, deputy commissioner and the senior superintendent of police, amritsar:'unfortunately i and my sons who are highly educated are against the evil of corruption from the last thirty five years. corrupt officials in ordcr to wreak vengeance and to put undue pressure, harass and trouble us have been carrying on all sorts of nefarious activities.my wife died a week ago and my son sukhdev raj who is a social worker of the congress party has to perform all the death ceremonies of his mother. tomorrow is a dusherra ceremony and day-after-tomorrow kirya. some inimical persons in order to disrepute and trouble us have maliciously joined hands. the city staff police took my son in custody at 4 p.m. we fear of harsh and illegal treatment. we pray that.....
Judgment:

Tek Chand, J.

1. This is a petition under the Contempt of Courts Act praying that respondents-be suitably punished for having committed contempt of Court in the following circumstances. By my order dated 29-10-1959 I have discharged the rule against respondent No. 3 and at present there-is before me the case against the remaining two respondents -- the first being Shri Joginder Singh. Inspector, C. I. A., Staff,' Amritsar, and the second Shri Sunder Lal alias Sunder Das, S. I., C. I. A-Staff, Amritsar.

2. The petitioner has four sons. Sukhdev Raj, who was 18 years of age at the time of this incident, is the youngest. The petitioner's wife died on the night between 11th and 12th June 1959 and the customary obsequial rites had to l>e performed every day till 21st June 1959 which was fixed for the Kirya ceremony of the deceased. Sukhdev Raj was performing these rites every day. On 19th June 1959 according to the petitioner Sukhdev Raj was taken into custody at 4 p. m. by C. I. A. Staff, Amritsar. The petitioner on coming to know of this addressed the following telegram to the City Magistrate, Duty Magistrate, Deputy Commissioner and the Senior Superintendent of Police, Amritsar:

'Unfortunately I and my sons who are highly educated are against the evil of corruption from the last thirty five years. Corrupt officials in ordcr to wreak vengeance and to put undue pressure, harass and trouble us have been carrying on all sorts of nefarious activities.

My wife died a week ago and my son Sukhdev Raj who is a social worker of the Congress Party has to perform all the death ceremonies of his mother. Tomorrow is a Dusherra ceremony and day-after-tomorrow Kirya. Some inimical persons in order to disrepute and trouble us have maliciously joined hands. The City Staff Police took my son in custody at 4 p.m. We fear of harsh and illegal treatment. We pray that Sukhdev Raj be ordered to be medically examined or yourself should be kind enough to inspect the body of Sukhdevraj.' On 21st June 1959 Shri Kewal Krishan, elder brother of Sukhdev Raj, who was employed as Secretary, Municipal Committee, Adampur, came to Amritsar in the morning and on learning of the arrest of Sukhdev Raj on 22nd June 1959 he presented an application to the Duty Magistrate (copy , of which is Ex. P-l) conveying his apprehension that he was going to be involved in a false case by the local police and requested that he be got produced in the Court and also got medically examined. The Duty Magistrate, Shri Sehgal, sent an order that Sukhdev Raj should be produced in his Court at 12 noon. Respondent Sunder Das submitted a report (vide Ex. P-6) to the effect that Sukhdev Raj is neither in custody in connection with any case nor is he with the police.

Now it is alleged that this was a false report made by respondent Sunder Das, S. I., and Sukhdev Raj was under wrongful and illegal confinement. On 22nd June 1959 the petitioner came to. Chandigarh and filed a petition under S. 491 Cr. P. C., for the issue of directions in the nature of Habeas Corpus to S. Joginder Singh Inspector ,and Shri Sunder Das, S. I., the two respondents. .The allegations were made that Sukhdev Raj had been beaten while in wrongful police custody. On 23rd June 1959 Redi, J., issued notice and directed that Sukhdev Raj be produced in his Court on 6th July 1959. The petitioner on returning to Amritsar sent a telegram on 24th June 1959 to the Superintendent of Police, Deputy Commissioner and City Magistrate, and Duty Magistrate, Amritsar to the following effect:

'My son Kewal Krishan. B. A.. LL.B., sent a written report under Ss. 342, 348, 330, I. P. C., against Joginder Singh Inspector and Sunder Lal Sub-Inspector Police C. I. A. Amritsar for the wrongful confinement etc., of Sukhdevraj. The report was sent to your address by post under an express delivery on 23-6-1959. The report relates to cognizable offences. The report is F. I. R. and it may kindly be recorded and the investigation may be started. The number of the F. I. R. may be intimated and the copy of the F. I. R. may also be supplied.'

According to the statement of Sukhdev Raj after he had been arrested on 19th June 1959, he was kept in the police custody till the morning of 22nd June 1959 and was taken to Sarhali police station. He was brought back to Amritsar on 23rd June 1950 and produced before the Magistrate at Amritsar on 25th June 1959. The Magistrate remanded him to police custody till 29th June 1959. From 29th June 1959 he remained in the judicial custody up lo 9th July 1959 when he was ordered to be discharged on the application of the police.

3. An affidavit which was sworn by respondent Sunder Das on 29th June was filed in the High Court in answer to the notice under S. 491, Cr. P. C. In that affidavit the respondent denied the allegations contained in the plaint and stated that Sukhdev Raj had not been taken into custody at 4 p.m., on 19th June. At 6-30 p. m., according to him Sukhdev Raj was joined in the investigation of a case (F. I. R. No. 63 dated 3rd May 1959 under S. 457/380 I. P. C,) involving theft of ornaments. He had been called at 6-30 p.m. and was permitted to leave for his house at S p. m. He was again joined in the investigation at 3-30 p.m., on 20th June 1959 and he left the C. I. A. Staff premises at 5 p.m.

Thereafter he absconded and despite search could not be found. He was arrested at 1 p.m. on 24th June 1959 and was produced for remand before the Ilaqa Magistrate Shri H. S. Kwatra, Magistrate 1st Class on 25th June 1959 and was remanded to police custody till 29th June 1959. The arrest of thy said Sukhdev Raj was made by Shiv Raj Singh, A. S. I. (R. W. 8) there being credible information with the police justifying his arrest. On 6th July 1959 the petition under S. 491, Cr. P. C., was dismissed. In the meanwhile the petitioner had moved this Court under Contempt of Courts Act on 2nd July 1959, and notice was issued by Gosain J., on 3rd July 1959. In answer to the notice issued to the respondents they filed affidavits in this Court. In his affidavit Sunder Das stated that on 19th June 1959 he joined Sukhdev Raj at 0-30 p.m., in the investigation of a theft case and had permitted him to leave the staff at 8-30 p.m., and that on 20th June 1959 he again joined Sukhdev Raj in the investigation of the case at 3-30 p. m. and permitted him to leave the office of C. I. A. staff at 5 p.m. with instructions to attend the office on the next day, i.e., 21st June 1959, but he did not attend on 2Ist June 1959 and absconded.

On 21st June he had Instructed the members of the staff to remain on the look out and to arrest him. On 22nd June 1959 at 10 a.m., he received a Robkar from the court of Shri B. P. Sehgal requiring him to produce Sukhdev Raj, but as he was not present, he made a report to that effect. It was also stated that a search was made for him from 21st June to 24th June, 1959. S. I.Shiv Raj Singh (R. W. 8) succeeded in locating him at 1 p.m., in the Ram Bagh Gardens and he arrested him in the presence of Ch. Ram Singh and Ch. Mool Raj, two respectables of the locality.

4. The other respondent, Inspector Joginder Singh also filed an affidavit, deposing that a theft case involving clothes and ornaments worth Rs. 8,000/- was investigated under his supervision from 15th May 1959. On 19th June 1939 the investigation showed the complicity of Sukhdev Raj and under his instructions lie was joined in the investigation of S. I. Sunder Das. lie then stated that later on from case diaries he learnt that Sukhdev Raj had been arrested on 24th June 1959.

5. An affidavit of Shiv Raj Singh, A. S. I. was also produced which was to the effect that under instructions from Sub-Inspector Sunder Das given on 21st June 1959 he was on the look out for Sukhdev Raj and on 24th June 1959 at 1 p.m. he was arrested in Ram Bagh Gardens in the presence of Ch. Ram Singh and Ch. Mool Raj and he was produced in Court on 25th June 1959.

6. On 29th October 1959 I passed an order - which may be treated as part of this order - that along with the allegations made, this case Calls for inquiry as to whether a false report had been made to the Magistrate and a false denial in the affidavit was also made in this Court as to the confinement of Sukhdev Raj. I directed the Sessions Judge, Amritsar, to make an inquiry and after recording evidence of the parties he should submit a report with his findings. I did not find that any case had been substantiated against respondent No. 3 and I discharged the rule against him.

Shri Badri Prasad Puri, Sessions Judge, Amritsar, recorded the statements of 21 witnesses for the petitioner and 17 witnesses for the respondents. Both the respondents appeared as R. Ws. Nos. 16 and 17. The learned Sessions Judge also called one Behari Lal as C. W. 1 and placed on record documents tendered by the parties. He submitted a detailed report dated 2nd March 1960 and expressed his opinion that Sukhdev Raj was with the C. I. A. Police on 22nd June 1959 and that a false report had been made to the Magistrate by Sunder Das. He also expressed his view that the denial in the affidavit by the two respondents in this connection was false.

7. The question on which the fate of this case hinges is whether Sukhdev Raj, as alleged by him, had been kept throughout in police custody from 19th June till 25th June 1959 by the two respondents. There is no dispute as to his being detained in police custody in accordance with the orders of remand of Shri Kwatra Magistrate, and later in judicial lock-up, till his discharge at the instance of the police on 9th July 1959.

8. I may now advert to the evidence which had been recorded by the Sessions Judge, Amritsar. (After discussion of evidence his Lordship concluded as follows:) For the reasons stated above I am convinced that Sukhdev Raj was in the police custody throughout, and the denial on the part of Sub-Inspector Sunder Das, both in his report to the Magistrate at Amritsar on 22nd June 1959 and in his affidavit in this Court, was deliberately false.

9. But, I cannot say without doubt, that the case against Joginder Singh, the other respondent has been made Out. All that has been said is that Inspector Joginder Singh also belaboured Sukhdev Raj on 19th and 20th June 1959. About this allegation the proof on the record is scanty. In any case, howsoever grave and reprehensible such an act might be, it cannot be said to be contempt of Court. I, therefore, discharge the rule against respondent S. Joginder Singh.

10. As to the question of law emerging from the above facts, Mr. Bhagirath Das has cited Homi Rustomji Pardivala v. Sub-Inspector Baig, AIR 1944 Lah 196 (SB), for the proposition, that proceedings for contempt of Court are of a summary nature; and therefore are not suitable for the decision of a hotly contested question of fact. While enunciating the above proposition the Bench remarked:

'In this case, however, the respondents elected to give evidence and it appears to me that all the material necessary for the decision of this conflict of fact is before the Court.' (See p. 201).

11. In this case also, the respondents had full! opportunity which was availed of not only for cross-examining the witnesses for the petitioner, hut also, they led evidence and placed all the relevant documents on the record. In my opinion, no prejudice can be said to have been caused to any respondent and there is no such suggestion from their side either. No fault can thus be found on the basis of the abstract proposition noticed above.

12. It was also observed by the learned counsel for the respondents on the strength of the same decision, that proceedings for contempt of Court, though not criminal, are of a quasi-criminal nature, and therefore, where there is any reasonable doubt, the persons charged with contempt are entitled to the benefit of such doubt. I fully endorse this observation. I have already given benefit of doubt to Inspector Joginder Singh, but I do not find any room for doubt, as to the case for contempt of Court, against Sub-Inspector Sunder Das.

13. Making of a false affidavit in a cause like the present cannot, but obstruct and impede the administration of justice; and for that reason, it is punishable as contempt of Court falling under the generic name of abuse of legal process or proceeding. In this case the element which constitutes contempt of Court is that with a view to deprive the Court from properly exercising its powers of determining, whether the petitioner's son had been deprived of his liberty in accordance with, or in contravention of law, the swearing of a false affidavit has contributed to the dismissal of the Habeas Corpus petition. Thus, the right of a citizen under confinement, to procure his release, was impaired and impeded by a deceit practised on the Court,, whereby he was injured, by being kept under detention; and this wrong could not be remedied, by reason of false and deceitful representation made, first to the Court of the Magistrate, and then, in the High Court.

The false representations thus made were calculated to embarrass, and obstruct the Court in the administration of justice, and in attaining that object, the respondent was successful. The act of| the respondent, not only amounted to perjury, but|there was also present, the element of obstruction to Court in the performance of its duties. The fact that perjury is also a substantive crime under the Indian Penal Code does not prevent conviction for a contempt, under the Contempt of Courts Act. The essential element which makes perjury punishable as a contempt, is an element of obstruction to the Court, which was definitely present in this case. Perjury or false swearing would constitute contempt of Court, if the alleged false statement had an obstructive effect made with the knowledge of falsity and the question was pertinent to the issue, In a leading American decision Rugg, C. J., said

'The province of the courts in cases brought before them is to ascertain the truth, to vindicate rights, to redress wrongs and to do justice according to established principles of law. Those who are interested in perverting rights and escaping the consequences of evil conduct, have an interest to obstruct the course of justice in the courts. Ingenious efforts have not been wanting for obstructing the courts by numerous means, An obvious one is to attempt to influence the decision by false testimony. Perjury as contempt of court has been considered by courts of other jurisdictions. Respecting that general subject it was said in Ex parte Hudgins, (1919) 249 US 378. at pp. 382, 383: 'Because perjury is a crime defined by law and one committing it may be tried and punished does not necessarily establish that when committed in the presence of a court it may not, when exceptional conditions so justify, be the subject-matter of a punishment for contempt.'

' * a '

This being true, we must ascertain what is essential ingredient in addition to the elements constituting perjury under the general law which must be found in perjury when committed in the presence of a court to bring about the exceptional conditions justifying punishment under both. Existing within the limits of and sanctioned by the Constitution, the power to punish for contempt committed in the presence of the Court is not controlled by the limitations of the Constitution as to modes of accusation and methods of trial generally safeguarding the rights of the citizen. This, however, expresses no purpose to exempt judicial authority from constitutional limitations, since its great and only purpose is to secure judicial authority from obstruction in the performance of its duties to the end that means appropriate for the preservation and enforcement of the Constitution may be secured. An obstruction to the performance of judicial duty resulting from an act done in the presence of the court, is, then, the characteristic upon which the power to punish for contempt must rest. This being true, it follows that the presence of that element must clearly be shown in every case where the power to punish for contempt is exerted -- a principle which, applied to the subject in hand, exacts that in order to punish perjury in the presence of the court as a contempt there must be added to the essential elements of perjury under the general law the further element of obstruction to the Court in the performance of its duty.'

(Vide Blankenburg v. Commonwealth, 172 N. E. 209 (211): (73 ALR 808(S12)).

14. After giving heed to all the circumstances, and after taking into consideration the law on the subject, the conclusion seems to be inescapable that the Sub-Inspector Sunder Das, respondent is guilty of contempt of court and the circumstances in which it was committed add greatly to the gravity of the offence. It is a precious right, preserved by the Constitution, whereby a citizen can directly invoke the jurisdiction of this Court, to enforce his right to personal freedom, by moving for the issuance of a writ, in the nature of Habeas Corpus, in order to contest the validity or regularity of his detention. Not only Sub-Inspector Sunder Das deprived Sukhdev Raj of his personal freedom by keeping him under detention at Amritsar and at Sarhali from 19th June onwards, he even went to the length of making a false report to the Duty Magistrate that he was not with him.

Except for a slight variation in his affidavit in the High Court, that Sukhdev Raj bad merely been called for interrogation on 19th and 20th June 1959, he persisted, that Sukhdev Raj had not been kept in detention after 20th June 1959. It is difficult to take a lenient view of this conduct of Sub-Inspector Sunder Das, as the evils that are likely to follow in the wake of any condonation, palliation or lenity, could be disastrous in the extreme. Not only individual liberty would be undermined, but the procedural safeguards, through which wrong is righted by the courts, would be reduced to impotence, the moment a police officer, with an easy conscience but determined disregard to truth, would be willing to make a perjured statement with a view to countermine the judicial machinery, in the expectation of thwarting the Courts from restoring or preserving constitutional liberties of the citizen. Such a conduct cannot be too severely reproved. To take a lenient view of the conduct of the respondent would imperil the effective and satisfactory functioning of the Courts, particularly in matters which involve the personal liberty of a citizen. A mere warning or even a sentence of fine cannot have the desired effect. I am, therefore constrained to impose a sentence of imprisonment upon Sub-Inspector Sunder Das respondent He is sentenced to undergo two months' simple imprisonment.


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