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Roop Chand Sharma Vs. Avtar Singh Brar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContempt of Court;Criminal
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Original No. 41 of 1960
Judge
Reported inAIR1961P& H101; 1961CriLJ308
ActsContempt of Courts Act, 1952 - Sections 3
AppellantRoop Chand Sharma
RespondentAvtar Singh Brar
Advocates: Anand Swarup, Adv.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredIn Emperor v. V.B. Kolte
Excerpt:
.....is passed in exercise of jurisdiction under article 226, a 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. - kolte, air 1941 nag 241, it was observed that interference with the administration of justice in one of the well-recognized heads of contempt. as stated above, it is duty of the head of the executive in the district to keep people informed as to what is happening in his jurisdiction and especially when an unfortunate incident like the one in the present case takes place......the petitioner and other members of the public on that very day, that the respondent issued a press note which was published in 'the tribune' dated the 2nd july 1960 and other newspapers having wide circulation in the state of punjab, giving a one-sided and coloured version of the incident, its background and its details, that the press note issued by the respondent is calculated to interfere with the due course of justice and to prejudice mankind against the petitioner and his co-accused, and that the respondent at the time of issuing the press note knew or should have known that criminal proceedings against the petitioner and his co-accused were imminent. it is, therefore, alleged that the respondent by issuing the press note in question has committed serious contempt of court,.....
Judgment:
ORDER

J.S. Bedi, J.

1. Roop Chand Sharma, resident of Faridabad, District Gurgaon, has put in this petition under section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952, alleging that on the 29th June 1960 there occurred an incident at Faridabad as a result of which two members of the public and one member of the hospital staff were killed by police firing and an Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police was also killed, that a case was registered by the local police for theft, rioting and murder against the petitioner and other members of the public on that very day, that the respondent issued a press note which was published in 'The Tribune' dated the 2nd July 1960 and other newspapers having wide circulation in the State of Punjab, giving a one-sided and coloured version of the incident, its background and its details, that the press note issued by the respondent is calculated to interfere with the due course of justice and to prejudice mankind against the petitioner and his co-accused, and that the respondent at the time of issuing the press note knew or should have known that criminal proceedings against the petitioner and his co-accused were imminent.

It is, therefore, alleged that the respondent by issuing the press note in question has committed serious contempt of Court, and is prayed that proceedings under section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952, be taken against the respondent and he be suitably punished. A copy of the press note in question has also been annexed to the petition.

2. Unfortunately the words 'Contempt of Court' have not been defined in the Act itself. The learned counsel for the petitioner, however, submitted that the press note issued by the respondent calculated to interfere with the due course of justice and to prejudice mankind against the petitioner and his co-accused, and also that at the time the respondent issued the press note he should have known that criminal proceedings against the petitioner and his co-accused were imminent and has thus committed contempt of Court. In support of his contention he has cited In re, Subrahmanyan, Editor Tribune, AIR 1943 Lah 329 (FB), State v. Bherulal, AIR 1954 Madh-B S6, State v. Editor Printer and Publisher of Matrubhumi, (S) AIR 1955 Orissa 36 and Leo Roy v. R. Prasad, 1958-60 Pun LR 255: (AIR 1958 Punj 377).

3. In AIR 1943 Lah 329 (FB), what is contempt of Court has been described at some length. In this authority it was observed as under:

'One kind of contempt of Court is scandalizing the Court itself. Any act done or writing published calculated to bring a Court, or a Judge of the Court into contempt, or to lower its or his authority is a contempt of Court. Further, any act done or writing published calculated to obstruct or interfere with the due course of justice or the lawful process of the Courts, is a contempt of Court. There may be likewise a contempt of the Court in abusing parties who are concerned in causes there or in prejudicing mankind against a party before the cause is heard. In the class of cases of contempt of Court where anything is done which is calculated to interfere with the due course of justice or is likely to prejudice the public for or against a party the essence of the matter is the tendency to interfere with the due course of justice. Any publication which is calculated to poison the minds of jurors, intimidate witnesses or parties or to create an atmosphere in which the administration of justice would be difficult or impossible, amounts to contempt.'

The same view is taken in the other authorities mentioned above. The essence of the whole matter is that the person committing the contempt of Court should have intended or calculated to interfere with the due course of justice, or to prejudice mankind against any party. Unfortunately the authorities cited in this case arc distinguishable as most of them relate to the journalists. In the present case, however, we find that the res-pondent is the Deputy Commissioner of District Gurgaon, and he was duty bound to bring the facts of this case before the public without any comments.

In Rizwan-ul-Hasan v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1953 SC 185, it was laid down that '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. The Court will not exercise its jurisdiction upon a mere question of propriety. In Emperor v. V.B. Kolte, AIR 1941 Nag 241, it was observed that

'interference with the administration of justice in one of the well-recognized heads of contempt. What has to be seen is whether the person sought to be proceeded for contempt did interfere or did intend to interfere with the administration of justice. Courts, no doubt, have to be jealous to guard against any interference with their functions, but, on the other hand, they should not be too sensitive where no harm has been caused or was intended to be caused.'

In 1958-60 Pun LR 255: (AIR 1958 Punj 377) it was laid down that

'a Court should not exercise its extraordinary power of committal unless the publication is calculated or intended to cause substantial prejudice to the petitioner or unless a real attempt has been made to interfere with the due course of justice.

The power of the Court to punish a contempt should not be exercised upon light occasion but only when the ends of justice require its use. The very delicacy of the power should be a safeguard against its abuse. Proceedings for contempt are initiated in Court for the purpose of protecting either the Court itself or the party concerned and to use it for any other purpose would constitute an abuse of the process of the Court. The Court's 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.''

4. In the present case we cannot say that the respondent had any intention to interfere with the administration of justice by issuing the press note in question. As stated above, it is duty of the head of the executive in the district to keep people informed as to what is happening in his jurisdiction and especially when an unfortunate incident like the one in the present case takes place. As stated above, the press note in question only gives the facts and not comments. If the principle propounded by the petitioner's counsel i was accepted, then the facts of any case given in ra newspaper would bring the writer, the publisher etc., within the ambit of contempt of Court.

5. For the reasons given above, I see no reason to issue notice to the respondent as prayed for. The petition is, therefore, dismissed.


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