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Court on Its Own Motion Vs. Ram Piara Comrade - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Reported in1973CriLJ1106
AppellantCourt on Its Own Motion
RespondentRam Piara Comrade
Cases ReferredR. v. Davies
- sections 80 (2) & 89 & punjab motor vehicles rules, 1989, rules 85 & 80: [t.s. thakur, cj, jasbir singh & surya kant, jj] appeal against orders of state or regional transport authority imitation held, a stipulation regarding the period of limitation available for invoking the remedy shall have to be strictly construed. that is because any provision by way of limitation is in the nature of a restraint on the remedy provided under the act. so viewed two inferences are clear viz., (1) sections 80 and 89 of the act read with rule 85 of the rules make it obligatory for the authorities making the order to communicate it to the applicant concerned and (2) the period of limitation for any appeal against the order is reckonable from the date of such communication of the reasons would imply.....h.r. sodhi, j.1. this judgment will dispose of two criminal original nos. 257 and 259 of 1971 in which notices had been issued to comrade ram piara respondent, ex-m.l.a., to show cause why he should) not be punished for contempt of court.2. facts which led to the issue of notices need to .be stated rather in detail and are as follows:in the year 1971, there was posted at karnal, the district headquarters in the state of haryana, a senior subordinate-judge, shri r. l. lamba, who also exercised the powers of the magistrate 1st class. he is an officer of long standing and has. been exercising magisterial powers as it appears from his personal file which was looked into to ascertain these facts. he was chief judicial magistrate at karnal fronr 9th april, 1969 to 9th june, 1969, and then.....

H.R. Sodhi, J.

1. This judgment will dispose of two Criminal Original Nos. 257 and 259 of 1971 in which notices had been issued to Comrade Ram Piara respondent, ex-M.L.A., to show cause why he should) not be punished for contempt of Court.

2. Facts which led to the issue of notices need to .be stated rather in detail and are as follows:

In the year 1971, there was posted at Karnal, the district headquarters in the State of Haryana, a Senior Subordinate-Judge, Shri R. L. Lamba, who also exercised the powers of the Magistrate 1st Class. He is an officer of long standing and has. been exercising magisterial powers as it appears from his personal file which was looked into to ascertain these facts. He was Chief Judicial Magistrate at Karnal fronr 9th April, 1969 to 9th June, 1969, and then Subordinate Judge-cum-Judicial Magistrate 1st Class upto 4th November, 1969. He again became Chief Judicial Magistrate which post he continued to hold till 3rd August, 1970 and from which date he took over as Senior Subordinate Judge only in which post he continued upto 23rd December, 1971. His name had been brought on the Select List by a resolution of the Judges of this Court thereby making him eligible for promotion as a District and Sessions Judge. He was actually promoted and transferred as Additional District and Sessions Judge, Hissar, by a Government notification dated 27th December, 1971.

3. A complaint under Section 420, Indian Penal Code, was filed in a Criminal Court at Karnal by one Shri S.P. Jaiswal, Managing Director, Karnal Distillery Co. Ltd.. on 23rd September, 1963, against one Shri C. M. Sharma of New Delhi. The accused was summoned in that case and after some hearings the complaint was ultimately consigned to record room and the accused was discharged on 16th February, 1966, under Section 259, Code of Criminal Procedure, because of the absence of the complainant. The complaint in substance was that the accused had fraudulently induced Shri Jaiswal to deliver a huge amount of Rs. 45.700/-against a cheque issued by the accused which was subsequently dishonoured. Within less than three weeks of the discharge of the accused, one Shri B. L. Chopra, claiming to be an employee of the Karnal Distillery filed a fresh complaint on 2nd March, 1966, on the same facts under Section 420, Indian Penal Code, in the Court of Shri Lamba it being stated by him that he was doing so under instructions of Shri Jaiswal. The explanation as given in the second complaint for the new complaint not having been filed by the aggrieved person Shri Jaiswal himself was that the latter was keeping indifferent health and had in fact submitted a medical certificate by a registered medical practitioner for his absence on 16th February, 1966, but the complaint was still dismissed and that in view of his indifferent health and because of his very often living at Chandigarh this complaint by Shri Chopra became necessary. The previous orders on the file indicate that the recods of the earlier complaint instituted by Shri Jaiswal and dismissed in default of his appearance had been directed to be summoned from the record room from time to time till January, 1967, but no efforts worth the name were ever made to implement those orders. From 1967 onwards, the complaint, as it appears from the order of Shri Lamba, got mixed up with another complaint bearing the same index number. Shri Lamba took over somewhere in the year 1969 and his first order is of 14th October, 1969, wherein he asked the Ahlmad to summon the file and preferably bring the same himself from the record room before the next date of hearing which was fixed for 28th October, 1969. On 28th October, 1969, the complainant, Shri Chopra, was present in person but the Ahlmad did not bring the file of the complaint filed by Shri Jaiswal. An explanation was furnished by the Ahlmad for his omission but the Magistrate found it to be unsatisfactory and ordered that a robkar for summoning the previous file for 24th November, 1969, should issue within three days. No statement of the complainant was recorded. Shri Lamba, however, changed the complex of this order by further adding that 'the warrants of arrest will be also issued against the accused for 24th November, 1969'. This addition does not find place in the typed order but has been made in the handwriting of the officer. There is nothing to show when this addition was made or the warrants for arrest were actually issued. It will be useful to reproduce the order of 8th October, 1969, in extenso at this stage:

Present: Complainant in person.

The Ahlmad has not cared to issue any Robkar to the Record Room to summon the file of the complaint case which was dismissed on 16-2-1966. In his explanation, the Ahlmad has stated that the particulars of the said case are not stated in the complaint. Had he cared to go through the complaint, he could have found out the particulars. He should read carefully the contents of para No. 8 of the complaint to find out particulars from Register No. 1 of the Court, where the case was previously pending for issuing the Robkar for summoning the previous file for 24-11-1969. The Robkar must be issued within 3 days.

2. The warrant of arrest will be also issued against the accused for 24-11-1969.

Sd/- R. L. Lamba

J. M. I. C. KNL


4. An order on the file shows that the case had by then been transferred to another Magistrate who, because of the absence of the accused, issued non-bailable warrants for 5-1-70. Nothing happened in the transferee Court and adjournments were being granted either because the Presiding Officer was on leave or for any other reason till the case again came back to the Court of Shri Lamba and registered there on 27th August, 1970. The complainant was present in person and the case stood adjourned to 9th November, 1970, for further proceedings. On the adjourned hearing, a telegram was received from the accused in other case that he was ill at Bombay. Shri Lamba cancelled the bail and ordered warrants of arrest to issue for 14th December, 1970. The case was again transferred to the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate by latter's order of 11th December, 1970. and Mr. Lamba directed on 14th December, 1970, that the parties should appear there on 14th January 1971. On 2nd February, 1971, the accused made an application to the Chief Judicial Magistrate that the order summoning him was illegal and the proceedings on that ground should be stayed. The complainant submitted a reply to this application. The main ground for attacking the proceedings was that even the complainant had not been examined under Section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure before the issue of warrants of arrest of the accused. A statement was thereafter made by the complainant on 17th March, 1971, that he would like to withdraw the complaint and in view of this statement, the complaint was dismissed and the accused discharged on that date. The complainant stated that he would file a fresh complaint, but it is not known whether any complaint was really afterwards filed. The respondent who had formerly been a Member of the Legislative Assembly of the State claims to have got infuriated on getting information about the illegal manner in which Shri Lamba issued warrant of arrest against a person described by the respondent as respectable and well placed without ever examining the complainant under Section 200, Code of Criminal Procedure. He then made a complaint against the officer to Hon'ble the Chief Justice. There can be no two opinions that the order of Shri Lamba on the face of it is wholly illegal and uncalled for verging not only on perversity but likely to lead to speculation that some extraneous influence might have worked on him. He is after all an officer of standing and it cannot be believed that he was not aware of the mandatory requirement of law as contained in Section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, that a Magistrate taking cognisance of an offence on complaint must examine the complainant in order to satisfy himself that a prima facie case for the issue of process against an accused person is made out. He will even be justified in postponing the issue of process till he has first satisfied himself by having, if necessary, an inquiry or investigation made by a Magistrate subordinate to him or by the police or by any other person as he thinks fit that a case for the issue of notice is made out. These are all safeguards to protect a citizen from harassment by abuse of the process of the Court but strangely enough Shri Lamba did not bother about the basic requirements of law known to any Magistrate of experience and passed an uncalled for, irresponsible and inconsistent order on 28th October, 1969, which has been quoted above. On the one hand, he was wanting the file of the previous complaint to be produced before him and on the other in the same order in a most incongruous manner he straightway directed warrant of arrest to issue without giving any indications that he was satisfied that such a course was necessary. Anyone, what to say of the respondent, might form a tentative impression that the Judicial Officer acted under some influence.

5. The respondent, as it gleans from the record and the arguments addressed by him in person, seems to be least hesitant in making allegations and complaints to vindicate what in his own light he considers to be the rights of a citizen and would take upon himself to raise a voice against eradication of corruption whether sometime there is any basis for his assertions or not. He will not many a time have an inhibition in using indiscreet, intemperate and wild language. On 13th October, 1971, he, claiming to be a crusader against corruption, high-handedness, favouritism and maladministration made a complaint to Hon'ble the Chief Justice of this Court against Shri Lamba, pointing out that the latter's integrity was doubtful and he was not fit to be considered for promotion as Additional District and Sessions Judge the consideration of which matter, he believed, was pending with the High Court. An appeal purports to have been made by him to the Chief Justice, S. Harbans Singh, to have an inquiry made into the conduct of Mr. Lamba in the good name of the country and democracy which, according to him, would have a gloomy future if judiciary started functioning unbecomingly, illegally and through the greasing of the palm. This complaint by the respondent was based on the order of Shri Lamba as made on 28th October, 1969, and it was alleged by the respondent that such an order was an abuse of the process of the Court. The ultimate prayer made by the respondent to the Chief Justice was that the file relating to the complaint case mentioned above be ordered to be taken into custody without loss of time and looked into at convenience so that if the allegations made by him are convincing then suitable action be taken against the officer, as in that event such an officer would not be fit to remain in judicial service. In the last para he repeated what he had said earlier in the body of his complaint and submitted that the reputation of Shri Lamba even otherwise be got inquired into officially for which purpose some person be appointed to go to the Court premises and the Bar Room incognito. A request for acknowledgment of his letter by the Chief Justice was also contained in the complaint copies whereof had been sent to Hon'ble the Chief Justice of India and the Governor of Haryana. Admittedly no acknowledgment was received from this end by the respondent. He has shown to us acknowledgments from the Chief Justice of India and the Governor. Another letter more in the nature of a reminder was sent by him to the Chief Justice of this Court on 23rd October, 1971, in which the attention of the latter was invited to the earlier letter sent per registered post Acknowledgment Due on 13th October, 1971, on the same subject. A grievance was made by the respondent in this letter that his complaint was not being acknowledged though acknowledgments had been received by him from my Lord the Chief Justice of India and the Governor of Haryana. It was pointed out by the respondent that no doubt he had sent copies of the complaint to the Chief Justice of India and the Governor of the State but the primary duty to look into the complaint was of the High Court and that the nature of the complaint being serious it was necessary to take the files in custody besides holding an inquiry for fixation of responsibility for the alleged abuse of the process of Court involved in the issue of warrant of arrest in a complaint to which two big industrialists were parties. Again, no acknowledgment was received by the respondent who started writing again and again that probably somebody was working to suppress the papers regarding his complaint against Shri Lamba whom he depicted as a corrupt officer with a long arm. He then sent another reminder on 3rd November. 1971 and similar reminders followed on 26th November, 1971 and -30th November, 1971. Tn every reminder the respondent repeated the complaint and his role of a crusader against high-handedness of the executive and a desire to see the judiciary pure though reference to the executive was wholly out of place and presumably the result of habit. Copies of the letters were every time sent to the Governor and the Chief Justice of India. These copies were sent as it appears from the contents of his letters that he believed that action could be taken against Shri Lamba by the High Court or by the Governor or by the Chief Justice of India. In the reminder of 3rd November. 1971, he appealed to both the executive and the judiciary to own the responsibility of punishing corrupt officials, otherwise faith in judiciary was bound to shake and was in fact being shaken. It was reiterated by him that his worry was that 'Shri Lamba has long hands and normally a corrupt officer has' and that he 'may not succeed in getting the case suppressed till he is promoted.' It is common ground and needs to be mentioned at this stage that on the original complaint as well as on the subsequent reminders-cum-complaints, the Hon'ble the Chief Justice passed orders that they be handed over to the Hon'ble Judge going on inspection to Karnai, The Chief Secretary to Government. Haryana, addressed letter No. 6967-3GSI-71, received on 25th November, 1971, to the Registrar of this Court and it reads as under:

Sub: Integrity of Shri R. L. Lamba, Senior Sub-Judge, Karnal, who is being considered for promotion as Additional District and Sessions Judge.


I am directed to forward a copy of the letter dated 3rd November. 1971, from Shri Ram Piara Comrade, Ex-M.L.A. on the subject rioted above, for favour of necessary action.


Superintendent General,


for Chief Secretary to Govt. Haryana.

Another letter dated 17th December, 1971, to the same effect was written by the Chief Secretary and it is in the following terms:

Sub: Complaint against Shri R. L. Lamba, Senior Sub-Judge, Karnal.

In continuation of Haryana Government letter No. 6967-3 GSI-71, dated the 25th November, 1971, on the subject noted above, I am directed to forward a copy of the letter dated 30th November, 1971, from Shri Ram Piara Comrade, Ex-M.L.A. for favour of necessary action.

Yours faithfully,


Dy. Superintendent General


for Chief Secretary to

Government, Haryana.

Before this letter of 17th December, 1971, Shri G. D. Malik, who was then Secretary to Governor, wrote a demi-official letter dated 7th December, 1971, to the then Registrar wherein a suggestion was made that since Shri Ram Piara respondent had cast aspersions on judicial proceedings held by Shri Lamba in the case of Shri B. L. Chopra, the desirability of taking some action by way of contempt proceedings or defamation against him be considered. An extract from that letter reproduced below is quite significant :

The honour of government officers has to be protected against malicious attacks. Since the complaints were addressed to the Hon'ble Chief Justice and also because Shri Lamba is under the jurisdiction of the High Court, I am to suggest that you may bring this fact to the notice of the Hon'ble Chief Justice for such action as he may deem fit.

6. When letter of 25th November, 1971, was received from the Chief Secretary suggesting necessary action on the complaint of the respondent against Shri Lamba, tha office processed the matter, but in view of the orders of the Chief Justice made from time to time that the complaints were to be passed on to the inspection Judge, no further action was taken. Gopal Singh, J. was to inspect the Courts at Karnal from 8th December, 1971 onwards and all the complaints of the respondent were handed over to the learned Judge. The tour programme was, however, later cancelled and the comnlaints were received back in the office. The Registrar submitted the papers on 9th December, 1971, to Hon'ble the Chief Justice for necessary orders about the complaints as the tour programme of Gopal Singh J. stood cancelled. By this time, Shri Malik's letter had been received and Hon'ble the Chief Justice in consultation with Maha-jan J. ordered on 15th December, 1971, that action for contempt of Court be taken against the respondent with the result that the complaints which were earlier directed to be looked into by the inspection Judge were not handed over to the latter when he went for inspection on 19th January, 1972. Since contempt proceedings against the respondent were to start on the basis of complaints said to contain serious allegations against Shri Lamba, the papers were entrusted to the Superintendent Criminal Branch to comply with the orders and put up the case before a Judge of this Court on the motion side.

7. Before the Motion Bench could pass an order directing the issue of the rule, another registered letter acknowledgment due, dated 17th December, 1971, addressed jointly to the Governor, Chief Justice and the Chief Minister had been received from the respondent. It was nothing but reiteration of the allegations already made against Shri Lamba and it was asserted by the respondent that the reason for his letters not being acknowledged or any action taken against Shri Lamba was some sort of kind consideration towards the officer, A protest was lodged by the respondent as to why action was not being taken and instead a kind consideration shown towards a corrupt officer at the cost of, what he thought to be, judicial standards. The respondent went to the extent of writing that he learnt from reliable sources that Shri Lamba who was to be promoted as Additional District and Sessions Judge had been summoned to Chandigarh. The respondent high-lighted that previously he had once made a complaint against a judicial officer in the time of the former Chief Justice, Mr. D. Fal-shaw, and an immediate inquiry was then ordered whereas now even the file was not being summoned to look into the conduct of Shri Lamba. As in the previous letters, the respondent ventilated the grievance that his letters were not being acknowledged by the High Court. The final request as made in this letter was that the file be summoned, examined and then, if thought expedient, Lamba promoted. This letter was processed in the office of this Court and a proposal initiated that since other complaints had been sent to the Criminal Branch for taking necessary action by way of contempt proceedings, the said complaint too be attached with them. The proposal was approved by the then Registrar. This complaint is supposed to form the basis of Criminal Original No. 259 of 1971.

8. After the order of the Motion Bench on 19th January, 1972, notices in the two Criminal Originals were issued by the office of this Court to the respondent for an actual date. In reply to the notices, the respondent wrote a letter addressed to the Superintendent, Criminal Branch, in which he asked for copies of the aforesaid criminal originals and the charge-sheet. He also posed a query as to which letter of his formed the basis of his prosecution as the original complaint to the Chief Justice was of 13th October, 1971, and that he had sent many reminders thereafter. He claimed that he had seen the Chief Justice on 11th January, 1972, at 3-40 P.M. in his Lordship's Chamber and had been assured of a thorough probe into the complaint against Shri Lamba, and was further told that an Hon'ble Judge who would be visiting Karnal very shortly would hold an inquiry into the complaints and that the respondent should better see the inspecting Judge there. The file relating to the complaint against Shri Lamba was also, according to the respondent, promised by the Chief Justice to be sent for but curiously enough the papers were not handed over to Gopal Singh J. who inspected the Courts at Karnal. It was mentioned in the said letter that the respondent met Gopal Singh J. at Karnal but the Hon'ble Judge showed his inability to look into the complaints as the papers had not been handed over to him. The respondent purported to show surprise at his being prosecuted when the Chief Justice had himself promised to inquire into his complaints.

9. When the criminal originals first came up before a Division Bench on February 16, 1972, the respondent complained that copies of the complaints or the alleged offensive matter which formed the basis of his prosecution had not been supplied to him. It was ordered by the Division Bench that the needful be done. In pursuance of this order copies of the letters dated 3rd November, 1971, 26th November, 1971, 30th November, 1971, and 17th December, 1971, were issued to him. It is common ground that the respondent was not furnished copies of letters of 13th October, 1971, and 23rd October, 1971. The Deputy Registrar (Judicial) in an office letter addressed to the respondent, stated that he had been directed by the Hon'ble Division Bench consisting of Gurdev Singh and Gopal Singh, JJ. to forward therewith the copies of the letters dated 3rd November, 1971, 26th November, 1971 and 30th November, 1971, addressed to the Governor of Hary-ana and the Hon'ble the Chief Justice and letter dated 17th December, 1971. There is nothing in the order of the Bench from which it could be warranted that copies of other letters were not intended to be supplied to the respondent. The order which is unambiguous reads as under:

He complains that copies of the complaints or the offensive matter on the basis of which notice for contempt has been issued to him have not been supplied to him. Let the same be furnished to him within 10 days. To come up for further proceedings on 15th of March, 1972.

The long history of the complaints by the respondent had to be stated in order to appreciate the various points raised by him and also to determine whether in such circumstances the petitioner could be held to have committed the offence of contempt of Court by scandalising or tending to scandalise the authority of the Court of Shri Lamba or Ire has in any manner prejudiced or interfered with or tended to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceedings or obstructed or tended to obstruct the administration of justice in any manner. Mr. Mehtani, appearing for the Advocate-General, concedes that Section 3 was wrongly mentioned and that >in fact action was intended to be taken under the present Contempt of Courts Act which had come into operation by the time the matter was put up to the High Court on its judicial side. Since the respondent is not represented by a counsel, no arguments were addressed on the question as to the effect, of the repeal of the old Act and if action could be taken under the old Act after the repeal. The main argument of Mr. Mehtani is that the persistent complaints about the integrity of Mr. Lamba made by the respondent to the High Court, copies whereof were sent to the Chief Justice of India, Governor of Haryana and the Chief Minister of Har-yana, amounted to scandalising the Court of Mr. Lamba, Senior Subordinate Judge, Karnal, and therefore, such an act constituted the offence of contempt. The gravamen of the charge indeed is that the respondent in his letters addressed to the Chief Justice as referred to above, made a per-senal attack on the integrity of the Presiding Officer, Mr. Lamba, attributing to him abuse of authority and suggesting extraneous motive on the part of the said officer which motive probably was the obtaining of illegal gratification as it is the only meaning that could be given to the expression 'greasing of palm' as used in the said letter. In the letter dated 13th October, 1971, which was the first complaint made to the Chief Justice, the respondent stated,'integrity of Shri R. L. Lamba, Senior Sub-Judge, Karnal, who is being considered for promotion as Additional Sessions Judge, not only doubtful but my allegation dubs him as corrupt'. Since there is no regular complaint made in this case, wherein the charges were crystallised, it becomes necessary to quote a few expressions used by the respondent from time to time in his letter:

If some of the limbs of Judiciary also start working unbecomingly, illegally and through the greasing of the palm, then the fate of our country and democracy would be very gloomy. I have reliably learnt that Shri R. L. Lamba at present Senior Sub-Judge, Karnal, who acted most unbecomingly by putting the sacred name of Judiciary in shame, illegally obliged one Shri B. L. Chopra .... Shri R. L. Lamba as an experienced Judicial Magistrate, without having recorded the statement of the complainant (B. L. Chopra) without recording the preliminary evidence of any of the witnesses ... issued in the first instance bailable and then non-bailable warrants against Shri C. M. Sharma. Could such process be considered as a gross irregularity? Such an abuse of power/process of the Court can never happen unless the palm of Shri R. L. I.amba was greased. When this abuse of process became public, the complainant Mr. B. L. Chopra, withdrew the complaint on 17th March, 1971. My mind refuses to believe that Shri R. L. Lamba did not know this simple law, that without recording the statement of at least the complainant, no person can be summoned as an accused and unless some one has been summoned as accused, warrants cannot be issued against him.

10. No useful purpose will be served by the multiplying the extracts from various letters and suffice to state that the trend of all the letters is more or less to the same effect except that the respondent was in subsequent letters using sometime mere intemperate language insinuating that the High Court was suppressing his complaints in order to help Shri Lamba so that his complaints did not see the light of the day before the officer was promoted as Additional District and Sessions Judge which happened on 27th December, 1971. Howsoever baseless the insinuations be, the fact remains that these complaints were not handed over to the inspecting Judge as it had been earlier directed under the various orders of Hon'ble the Chief Justice and Shri Lamba did get the promotion. The charge against the respondent lies not in committing contempt of the High Court by making undesirable insinuations but is confined only to the contempt alleged to have been committed by him by scandalising the Court of Shri Lamba. He has raised the following contentions before us which must be reproduced even if some of them may not be strictly necessary to be discussed since they are hardly relevant:

(1) That notice served on him under Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act calling upon him to show cause as to why he should not be punished for contempt is bad in law, as the old Act under which notice purports to have been issued stood repealed and action could be taken only under the present Act which had come into force by the time a rule was issued by the Motion Bench on 19th January, 1972.

(2) That the action against him is motivated inasmuch as in spite of reference by the Chief Secretary of the State Government suggesting to the High Court to look into the respondent's complaints and the orders of the Chief Justice and latter's personal assurance that he (Chief Justice) would have an inquiry made by an inspecting Judge, no action was taken on those lines and instead on receipt of the demi-official letter dated the 7th December, 1971, from the Secretary to the Governor, a prompt action was taken in launching a prosecution against him for the offence of contempt of Court. The said letter of the Secretary, it is urged, was not issued under the directions of the Governor but was the result of some manipulations.

(3) That copies of the complaints made by him about the integrity of Shri Lamba were not supplied and even when supplied on his asking, two complaints dated 13th October, 1971, and 23rd October, 1971, were deliberately withheld, though, according to the respondent, it was the original complaint of 13th October, 1971, which was the real one as the subsequent complaints were only in the nature of reminders to the Chief Justice.

(4) That notice in Criminal Original 259 of 1971 purports to have been issued because of the letter of the respondent of 17th December, 1971, addressed to the Governor, the Chief Justice and the Chief Minister, though the office orders were only to the effect that the said letter be tagged on to the earlier letters. Criminal Original 259 of 1971 has, according to the respondent, been initiated only to further harass him though no fresh cause had arisen.

(5) That the respondent was' within his rights as a citizen to make a complaint or complaints to the authorities competent to appoint, dismiss, or exercise disciplinary control over judicial officers and that he did so bona fide and in good faith to have an inquiry made in order to avoid any misgivings about the independence and integrity of the Subordinate Court. To establish his good faith, the respondent relies on two orders of Mr. Lamba as made on 14th October, 1969, and 28th October, 1969. It is vehemently urged that if the file had been summoned by Hon'ble the Chief Justice, His Lordship would have been satis-fled about the lack of integrity of Shri Lamba but unfortunately it was not so done and instead the complainant was driven to stand in the dock as an accused person.

11. The respondent has strenuously urged that the letter of Mr. Malik was not under the directions of the Governor but at his own as a result of some connivance with someone interested in the prosecution of the respondent. The aspersions cast by the respondent on the Chief Minister who does not figure at all in the case are wholly ill-founded. The Chief Secretary could not have asked the High Court to take action on the complaint of the respondent if the Chief Minister did not so desire. We are convinced that the Chief Minister too was wanting that the complaints of the respondent against Shri Lamba be looked into by the High Court, and the respondent has dragged in the name of the Chief Minister presumably for reasons best known 10 him. If any one was interested in getting a letter written by Mr. Malik it could be none else than Mr. Lamba. The change in law was probably not known to Mr. Malik when he wrote the letter and he seems to have thought that because of the intemperate language used by the respondent against a Judicial; Officer action for contempt was called for and it was in that view of the matter that the High Court issued a notice to the respondent so that all the aspects could be judicially examined. It could have been just by chance that since it had been decided to proceed against the respondent for contempt, the office of the High Court did not hand over the complaint papers against Shri Lamba to the inspecting Judge who visited Karnal on 19th January, 1972. It would have been better if an inquiry was got made yet in any case nothirig turns on that so far as the alleged commission of the offence of contempt of Court is concerned. An inquiry into the conduct of Mr. Lamba and the contempt alleged to have been committed by the respondent are two distinct matters.

12. We have given our careful-thought to the matter and in spite of the unhappy language used and insinuations-made by the respondent in some of the letters in question, not sparing at times though obliquely even the High Court, the offence of contempt of the Court has not, in our opinion, been brought home to him, in the circumstances stated above. The offence of contempt is primarily against the-organised society since no one can be permitted to do acts or publish writings when they are calculated in the words of Lord1 Russel, C. J., in R v. Gray, (1900) 2 Q-B 36 to bring a Court or Judge into contempt, or to lower his authority, or to interfere with the due course of justice or the lawful process of the Court. A contemner is not punished out of any personal consideration for the Judge but as stated in ex parte Whit-more, 9 Utah 441, 'the power is exercised by the Court as a representative in this respect of the peoplethe ultimate sovereigns. and in their interest and in their good. The maintenance of the authority of the judiciary is indispensable to the stability of Government.' The Courts are the bulwark of the liberty and rights of the people in a democratic Constitution and all unwarranted and unjustified attacks tending to undermine their prestige and dignity must, therefore, be takeri serious notice of as criminal acts so that confidence of the people in the administration of justice is not impaired. It must not, however, be forgotten as observed in R. v. Davies, (1906) 1 K. B. 32, quoted in foot note 'f' at page 7 of Hal-sbury's Laws of England, TITrd Edition, Volume 8, 'when a trial has taken place the judge is given over to criticism, and that committals for contempt by scandalising the Court itself have become obsolete in this country.' This statement is, in some of the En.erlish decisions, considered to be too wide and it may be so but a fair criticism cannot amount to contempt. For the exercise of power of punishing a contemner the vehemence of the language used in the offending publications concerning a judge is not the only criterion. While punishing a contemner is in the interest of the society, it is equally necessary in order to protect that interest in a democratic set up that a citizen should be allowed to make a complaint to the High Court about a subordinate Judicial Officer so long as the complaint is made in good faith as the Constitution vests in the High Court full and complete administrative and disciplinary control over subordinate judiciary in the State. We should not indeed be oblivious to the growing corruption that is gradually eroding the subordinate judiciary thereby threatening the foundations of democracy. In order to have a proper control and check over the judiciary, it is but expedient that a citizen is not dissuaded by the threat of prosecution for contempt from making a bona fide complaint to the High Court against the Presiding Officer of a Subordinate Court. It was presumably for this purpose that the Parliament while defining criminal contempt provided immunity to a citizen making a complaint to the High Court against a Presiding Officer of the Subordinate Court so long as the complaint is made in good faith. The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, referred to hereinafter as the Act, defines 'contempt' in Section 2 in the following terms:

(a) 'Contempt of Court' means civil contempt or criminal contempt;

(b) 'Civil contempt' means wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court;

(c) 'criminal contempt' means the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which

(i) scandalizes or tends to scandalize or lowers or tends to lower the authority of any court; or

(ii) prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceedings; or

(iii) interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner;

(d) 'High Court' means the High Court for a State or a Union territory, and includes the Court of the Judicial Commissioner in any Union territory.' Section 6 provides that a person shall not be guilty of contempt of Court in respect of any statement made by him in good faith concerning the Presiding Officer of any subordinate Court to

(a) any other subordinate court, or

(b) the High Court, to which it is subordinate.

The explanation appended to this section explains the subordinate court to mean any jcourt subordinate to the High Court. Whatever might have been the position under the old law with regard to complaint made to the High Court against a subordinate judicial officer, though it could not be different, the making of such a complaint is surely no longer an offence if it is made in good faith. There could of course, be no grosser contempt than to allege that the Judge acted with bias and malice in the course of the performance of his judicial duties and that the case was not decided by him according to his convictions but for extraneous reasons, At the same time, the law as it now stands allows a complaint to be made to the High Court against the Presiding Officer of any Subordinate Court and the only fetter on the exercise of such a right by a citizen is that he must act in good faith. The act gives a right to any person and not only to a party to a cause in a Court to make a complaint to the High Court against a Presiding Officer of a Subordinate Court. The very idea of a complaint: has inherent in it that the person complaining is levelling some sort of accusations. The ordinary dictionary meaning of the word 'scandalize' is to occasion a scandlc, to disgrace, to bring into reproach or dishonour, and a complaint which contains accusations certainly does to some extent disgrace the person complained against, and what one has therefore to look to is the intention of the con-temnor as gathered from the complaint and' the circumstances surrounding the same. The essence of criminal contempt, as defined in the Act, is publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations, or otherwise) of a matter which is fraught with probable consequences as enumerated in clauses (i), (ii) and (iii) of Section 2(c). The complaint for which there is a lawful justification is not per se a publication unless it is a garbled version falsifying the issues raised in the complaint so as to negative any good faith. Publication is indeed a public notification in whatever form and when the subject-matter of that publication is such as to pervert the public mind and disturb the course of justice by scandalizing or tending to scandalize any Court, it will be criminal contempt within the meaning of Section 2(c). The Legislature in its wisdom has given protection to a citizen interested in the purity of administration of justice if he makes a complaint to the High Court against the Presiding Officer of a Subordinate Court. The expression 'good faith' as used in the Act has not been defined but a definition is given in Clause (22) of Section 3 of the General Clauses Act. 1897 (Act No. 10 of 1897). According to this definition, 'a thing shall be deemed to be done in 'good faith' where it is in fact done honestly, whether it is done negligently or not'. The definition as found in Section 52 of the Indian Penal Code is, however, different and a negative one. For the offences referred to in the said Code, the absence of good faith will mean simply carelessness or negligence, and may be that an act done honestly and without any malicious motive falls within the ambit of mischief of want of good faith as understood in the Indian Penal Code even though such an act is held to be careless or negligent. Under the General Clauses Act, even if an act is done negligently or carelessly, it may still be done honestly and every erroneous action will not be culpable so long as the motive is honest. Since no definition has been provided in the Contempt of Courts Act, we have to fall back on the meaning given to the expression 'good faith' in the General Clauses Act and not that in the Indian Penal Code. In a case arising under the Act, what has, therefore, to be determined is whether the contemnor acted honestly or not no matter he acted negligently or carelessly. Want of due care and caution could, however, in a proper case, be evidence of lack of honesty. A person could not be said to be acting honestly if he readily accepts an ill-based belief which belief could be avoided by a reasonable attempt to ascertain the truth. The question whether a contemnor made a complaint to the High Court in good faith will, therefore, depend on the circumstances of each case. No doubt, the respondent, as we have been able to gather from his arguments and the trend of the language used by him in his letters addressed to the Chief Justice, is a presumptuous person having no hesitation in making scurrilous attacks against any one 'who comes in his way, still it cannot be said that he has in the instant case not acted in good faith so far as allegations about Shri Lamba are concerned. The order of Shri 'Lamba is on the face of it unsustainable and unexpected of any Judicial Officer with least experience. In the case of private complaint 'filed by Shri Chopra on 2nd March, 1966, and put up to him (Shri Lamba) on 14th october, 1969, he wanted the file of the previous similar complaint filed by Shri Jaiswal to be summoned. On 28th October, 1969, Shri Lamba almost admonished the Ahlmad and fixed 24th of November, 1969, for summoning of that file but amazingly enough before he signed that order it occurred to 'him to write down in his own hand though the previous part of the order is typed one, that the warrants of arrest would issue against the accused for the same day on which the file from the record room was to be produced. The officer did not record even a statement of the complainant under Section 200, Criminal Procedure Code. As a Judicial Officer, he should have examined the complainant in the spirit of the said Section 200, in order to satisfy himself whether issue of a process was necessary but he did not care to do so. He had not even perused the file of the old case which was yet to be put up to I him. What to say of the respondent, any person is likely to be led to the impression, may be incorrect in fact, that extraneous considerations, not necessarily greasing of the palm, might have prevailed with him (Shri Lamba) when he directed warrants of arrest to issue on 28th October, 1969. It cannot reasonably be said that any of the facts stated by the respondent, so far as they relate to the orders of Shri Lamba, are wrong. He was only seeking redress from the High Court against what he considered to be a wrong done to the accused in Shri Chopra's complaint. The respondent asked for summoning of the file and for proper action against the officer after the same was examined. If the file had really been summoned, no surprise that the Chief Justice or any other Judge to whom the case was entrusted for scrutiny, might have formed the same opinion unless it could be dispelled by a proper inquiry. We are satisfied that in making allegations against Shri Lamba, the respondent did not exhibit any want of due care and caution or honesty. The order is as stated above so patently illegal that the suspicion of the respondent mentioned in his complaints to the Chief Justice that the Judicial Officer might have acted with a corrupt motive or for any other extraneous reason could not be totally ruled out as baseless so as to justify a conclusion by us that the respondent did not act honestly and intended only to scandalize the Court of Shri Lamba. The respondent instead of sending anonymous and pseudonymous complaints took upon himself the responsibility of owning the complaints and narrated positive and true facts under his own name asking for an inquiry but no such inquiry could for one reason or the other be held. The respondent had indeed been insisting for an inquiry and as a matter of fact, the Chief Secretary to Government, Haryana, also wrote twice to this Court for action on the complaints of the respondent.

13. We are, therefore, for the foregoing reasons, of the view that the act of the respondent in making complaints to the Chief Justice of this Court against Shri Lamba and sending copies of the same to the Governor and the Chief Minister, who are admittedly the appointing authorities;' though disciplinary control is with the High Court, is covered by Section 6 of the Act and does not amount to a publication tending to scandalize the Court of Shri Lamba within the meaning of Section 2(c). The mere fact that copies were sent to the Chief Justice of India who too is believed to be having supervisory control over the judiciary in India does not in any way in the instant case amout to publication within the meaning of Section 2 of the Act.

14. In the result, the rule issued against the respondent is discharged with no order as to costs.

Gurnam Singh, J.

15. I agree.

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