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The State Vs. Pt. Ram Chander Sharma - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContempt of Court;Criminal
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Original No. 4 of 1958
Judge
Reported inAIR1959P& H41; 1959CriLJ81
ActsContempt of Courts Act, 1952 - Sections 3; Constitution of India - Articles 19(1) and 215
AppellantThe State
RespondentPt. Ram Chander Sharma
Appellant Advocate N.L. Saluja, Adv. General
Respondent Advocate Anand Sarup, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....writ appeal will lie. but, no writ appeal will lie against a judgment/order/decree passed by a single judge in exercising powers of superintendence under article 227 of the constitution. - 5. in justification, the learned counsel urged that in determining the passage in question, the whole of the news item had to he read and considered and the pieces complained of should not be taken out of their real context. the purpose principally was to expose and condemn the parly in power in making the police and administrative machinery subversive to its wishes to the detriment of interest of tile common man......printer and publisher of the bi-weekly 'hariana tilak', rohtak.2. the complaint related to the news items, appearing at page 1 and continued at page 4 of the bi-weekly 'hariana tilak' rohtak issue dated 15-9-1957, stating. 'no police officer has any business to commit such an act without receiving a hint from the top. now-a-days the police officers and a majority of magistrates who are not self-respecting have to act in this manner ......tere rej men rehna to unt balai le gia han ji han ji kehna. it was contended that the caption amounted to contempt.3. the facts giving rise to this petition by the state briefly stated were that on 29-8-1957, one dr, sat vir and others were challaned under section 107 read with section 151 of the code of criminal procedure in the court of.....
Judgment:
ORDER

R.P. Khosla, J.

1. This is a petition under Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952. Contemner-respondent is one Pt. Ram Chander Sharma, Editor, Printer and Publisher of the bi-weekly 'Hariana Tilak', Rohtak.

2. The complaint related to the news items, appearing at page 1 and continued at page 4 of the bi-weekly 'Hariana Tilak' Rohtak issue dated 15-9-1957, stating. 'No police officer has any business to commit such an act without receiving a hint from the top. Now-a-days the police officers and a majority of magistrates who are not self-respecting have to act in this manner ......tere rej men rehna to unt balai le gia han ji han ji kehna. It was contended that the caption amounted to contempt.

3. The facts giving rise to this petition by the State briefly stated were that on 29-8-1957, one Dr, Sat Vir and others were challaned under Section 107 read with Section 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the Court of Sub-Divisional Magistrate Jhajjar. Rao Mangli Ram, a Congress worker of some repute, was called and summoned as a witness for the police for a hearing fixed for 28-8-1957. According to. the news item in question said Mangli Ram was alleged to have contacted the Police Sub-Inspector concerned on 28-8-1957, with a view to find out the nature of the evidence that the witness was supposed to give in the case in question.

The news item further disclosed that the Sub-Inspector told Rao Mangli Ram to depose against the accused concerned and also to state that apart from their raising 'Save Hindi' slogans, the accused were raising slogans that the 'Sikhs should be murdered''. Mangli Ram is stated to have declined to make such a statement and was consequently given up by the police. It is after this incident of 28th August that the news item in question was printed and published. It is necessary to note here that when the news item was published the case under Section 107/151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was sub judice. The claim of the State in instant case is that the publication of the said news item constituted a gross contempt of Court for the reasons:

(a) that the magistracy in general had been dubbed as devoid of self-respect and playing to the tune of those who were concerned with the running of the administration;

(b) that criminal justice was not being administered by the magistracy in the State in impartialmanner; and

(c) that the news item was also alleged to prejudice the mind of the reading public against the integrity of the magistracy and the truthful character of the witnesses appearing in Courts and was claimed to prejudice the mind of the Court trying the case and thus deflect the course of justice.

4. In response to the process of this Court, Shri Ram Chander Sharma, Editor, Printer and Publisher of said bi-weekly 'Hariana Tilak, Rohtak filed his written statement and appeared before me wi.th his counsel Mr. Anand Sarup. The respondent in his written statement as also before me pleaded justification of the impugned publication. it was maintained that the news item in question did not amount to contempt of Court It was pleaded that if this Court came to the conclusion that the publication amounted to contempt, the respondent offered unqualified apology.

5. In justification, the learned counsel urged that in determining the passage in question, the whole of the news item had to he read and considered and the pieces complained of should not be taken out of their real context. It was submitted that the author was giving general background of the atrocities that were perpetrated by the ruling party in the wake of Hindi agitation in the Slate. The purpose principally was to expose and condemn the parly in power in making the police and administrative machinery subversive to its wishes to the detriment of interest of tile common man. It was also claimed that the impugned publication was a statement issued to the press by a prominent public man of the district and expressed his feelings as to the state of affairs that obtained in tbe State and were brought about by the police excesses in obedience to the administrators in power in the State. The news publication in question was urged to have been a publication of a statement of a public man on public affairs; a necessary adjunct for maintaining a healthy atmosphere and for achieving progress in a democratic society.

6. I heard counsel for the contemner at length and so also the counsel for the State. After having given my anxious thought and careful consideration to the matter, I am of the view that the respondent is guilty of contempt. The public men and publishers of newspapers are within their rights particularly in a free country to vindicate public grievances. Freedom of press, liberty of speech, and action so far as they do not contravene the law of contempt are to prevail without let or hindrance. But at the same time the maintenance of dignity of the Courts is one of the cardinal principles of rule of law in a free democratic country and when the criticism which mav otherwise be couched in language that appears to be mere criticism results in undermining the dignity of Courts and course of justice in the land it must be held repugnant and punished. No Court can look with equanimity on a publication which may have tendency to interfere with the administration of justice. I have carefully examined the matter.

The impugned publication in the present case undoubtedly would nave the tendency to lower the prestige of the Magistrate before whom the proceedings under Section 107/151, Criminal Procedure Code, were sub judice in particular and magistracy in the State generally. The licence of freedom of speech or publication must in the circumstances of this case be held to have been abused. I have no hesitation in concluding that the publication in question has the effect of creating an atmosphere of prejudice in the mind of readers that the Magistrates are amenable to extra-judicial pressure,

7. For all these reasons I am of the view that the respondent has committed contempt. Finding him guilty under Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act I would convict him, but in view of the unqualified anology of the contemner-respondent a warning administered would meet the ends of justice. I would order accordingly.


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