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Ganpati Chander Gupta Vs. Hardwari Lal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1981CriLJ1239
AppellantGanpati Chander Gupta
RespondentHardwari Lal and ors.
Excerpt:
.....acquire knowledge of passing of the said order. - 3 from joining the post but they failed to do so. it is well settled that contempt proceedings are in the nature of quasi-criminal proceedings and the charge should be proved beyond a shadow of doubt. singhal from joining the post in view of the stay order, which he failed to do, and thus he is also guilty of the contempt of court. he, however, instead of adopting the said course, adopted a unique course by putting a query, which was not expected from a responsible officer like the registrar......1 and 2 to the same effect at 16.50 hours on the same date. the respondent, however, issued the letter of appointment to dr. s. b. singhal, respondent no. 3, who had been selected against the said post, on 24th july, 1978, at about 16.30 hours.4. thereafter, it is further stated that the petitioner sent a certified copy of the stay order to respondent no. 2 on 25th july, 1978, at about 9.30 a. m. the personal . assistant to respondent no. 2, after reading the copy, returned it saying that he had no instructions to accept documents from him. the certified copy was then sent to respondent no. 1 which was received by an officially his office. on 27th july. 1978, a news item appeared in the tribune under the caption 'm. d. u. restrained from filling post of hindi professor', wherein.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Rajendra Nath Mittal, J.

1. Briefly, the case of the petitioner is that he was working as Professor and Head of the Department of Hindi, at Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtalc, hereinafter referred to as the University. He, vide letter dated 20th April, 1978, resigned from the seryice, with effect from 20th July. 1978. Mr. Hardwari Lai, Vice-Chancellor of, the University, respondent No. 1, appcepted his resignation on 22nd April. 1978, with immediate effect and got its approval from' the Executive Council in its meetirig held on 6th May, 1978. Respondent No. 1 thereafter 'proceeded to fill up the post which was held by the petitioner.

2. The petitioner filed a writ petition in this Court for quashing the, order' of respondent No. 1 dated 22nd April; 1,978, and the decision of the Executive Council conveyed to him vide letter dated 24th May. 1978. He further prayed that pending disposal of the writ petition, the University be restrained from filling up the post held by the petitioner and the order pi the Vice-Chancellpr directing him to vacate the house occupied .W' him be staved. The writ petition came up for hearing before a' Division Bench of this Court on 24th July, 1978, Sind the 'learned Judges is dud notice of motion for 3rd August, 1978,' and granted ad interim relief as prayed for. The order passed by the Bench is as follows:-

Notice of motion for 3-8-1978. Dispensing1 with the requirements of Clause (4) of Article 226 of the Constitution of 'India for the reason that the petitioner did not have sufficient time to serve the notice of the petition upon the respondent, it is directed that the post alleged to have been vacatpd shall not be filled till then and the petitioner shall not be dispossessed of his residence occupied by him in the University campus.

(Emphasis supplied),

3. It is alleged that the petitioner applied for a certified copy of the order dated 24th July, 1978, and it was delivered to him on the same date, that is, 24th July. 1978. He also booked a P. P. Call to the Registrar of the University at about 15.40 hours on that date and it matured within ten minutes. The Personal Assistant to the Registrar attended to the telephonic call. The petitioner ditated to him the message to the effect that filling up of the post of Professor and Head of the Department of Hindi had been stayed by the High Court on that date and the latter undertook to inform the Registrar about it. The petitioner also sent express telegrams to respondents Nos. 1 and 2 to the same effect at 16.50 hours on the same date. The respondent, however, issued the letter of appointment to Dr. S. B. Singhal, respondent No. 3, who had been selected against the said post, on 24th July, 1978, at about 16.30 hours.

4. Thereafter, it is further stated that the petitioner sent a certified copy of the stay order to respondent No. 2 on 25th July, 1978, at about 9.30 A. M. The Personal . Assistant to respondent No. 2, after reading the copy, returned it saying that he had no instructions to accept documents from him. The certified copy was then sent to respondent No. 1 which was received by an officially his office. On 27th July. 1978, a news item appeared in the Tribune under the caption 'M. D. U. restrained from filling post of Hindi Professor', wherein details regarding the case were given.

5. It is next stated that respondent N0. 3 was personally present in the Hah Court on 24th July, 1978, and he was aware of the stay order passed on that date. It is stated that in spite of that, respondent No. 3 joined the University as Professor and Head of the Department of Hindi, on 27th July 1978 (after-noon). Furthermore. Dr. H.C. Verma, who was Reader in the Department of Hindi and held the charge of the said post, was directed to hand over the same by respondents Nos. 1 and 2 on 3rd August, 1978, in pursuance of which he handed over the charge to respondent No. 3 on 4th August. 1978. It is averred that the respondents have intentionally and wilfully disobeyed the orders of the Court dated 24th July, 1978, and were thus guilty of contempt of Court.

6. All the three respondents contested the petition.

7. Respondent No. 1 pleaded that on 25th July, 1978, he initiated action assuming that the copy of the order supplied to the office was the reflection of Genuine orders of the High Court. His attention was drawn by the office to the fact that Dr. Gupta's post had already been filled up and the appointment letter to the person selected to succeed him had been issued and that everything done in the shape of the reversal of the appointment would involve the University in numerous complications. Appreciating the position, he did not order cancellation of Dr. Singhal's appointment as successor to Dr. Gupta though he ordered that Dr. Gupta should not be dispossessed of his residence in the campus, pending further orders.

8. Respondent No. 2 averred that he did not receive any communication from the petitioner on 24th July. 1978, through either telephonic call or telegram. He enquired into the matter and found that Mr. Sher Singh, his Personal Assistant, had received the teleeram on 25th July, 1978, and marked, the same to the Private Secretary to the Vice-Chancellor. It was not shown to him as he was on leave on that date. Even thereafter, it was not shown to him as his Personal Assistant had sent it to the Vice-Chancellor's office. He did not issue the appointment letter to Dr. S.B. Singhal and it was issued by the Assistant Registrar (Establishment)' at his own level. He had no knowledge about the stay order passed by the High Court either on 24th or 25th July. 1978. The position is that Dr. Singhal was issued the appointment letter on 22nd July, 1978, which was despatched on 24th July, 1978. The selection of Dr. Singhal had been approved by the Executive Council in its meeting held on 21st July, 1978. Dr. Singhal submitted his joining report on 27th July, 1978, in the afternoon to the Assistant Registrar (Establishment) and joined the Department. The joining report was shown to him for information on the morning of 28th July, 1978. As he read the news item in the Tribune, he put a query asking if there was any stay order regarding filling up of the post of Professor of Hindi on which Dr. Singhal had joined. He received the stay order from the High Court officially on 28th July, 1978. He did not show any disrespect to the High Court and in no way had disobeyed its orders.

9. Respondent No. 3 has alleged that he did not know about the stay order passed by D. S. Tewatia and K. S. Tiwana, JJ., on 24th July. 1978. in the writ petition of Dr. Ganpati Chander Gupta as he was not present in the Court. He was present in the Court of the Division Bench consisting of S.S. Sandhawalia, C.J. and S.S. Dewan, J. as he was a petitioner in the Civil Writ Petition filed by Dr. C.N. Tripathi and Dr. S.P. Goyal against Kurukshetra University and Dr. J.B. Goyal. The Hon'ble Bench rose at about 11 A.M. and he left immediately for Kurukshetra along with his co-petitioners in that case. He did not see Dr. G.C. Gupta anywhere in the Court. He was selected for the Professor's post in Rohtak University and was told about it by the Vice-Chancellor at the meeting of the Selection Committee on 1st July, 1978, and he signified his assent and gave an assurance that he would join whenever desired. On 25th July, 1978. he received a notice from the Vice-Chancellor of the Kurukshetra University saying that he should cot relieved from his then position of Reader in Hindi at the Kurukshetra University to join as Professor of Hindi at M. D. University. Rohtak, without delay. He left for Rohtak in the morning of 27th July. 1978, to take over as Professor of Hindi there and submitted his joining report to the office in the afternoon on the same day. He had no knowledge before joining M.D. University of the news item appearing in the Tribune dated 27th July, 1978, regarding the stay order of this Court, He has said that he did not subscribe to the Tribune and read Hindustan Times.

10. It is vehemently contended by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that respondents Nos. 1 and 2 had come to know about the order dated 24 July. 1978. on the same day, but they intentionally did not pass an order stopping the issuance of the letter of appointment. It is further contended by him that in any case they came to know about it on 25th July. 1978, and at that stage they could stop respondent No. 3 from joining the post but they failed to do so. Therefore. they are guilty of the contempt of Court.

11. I have given due, consideration to the argument of the learned Counsel. The case of the petitioner is that on the day of passing of the order, that is, on 24th July, 1978, he contacted Mr. Sher Singh, Personal Assistant of the Registrar, on telephone and informed him about the stay order. He also sent telegrams to the Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar in that regard on that day which must have been received by them the same day. It is alleged that still the letter of appointment was allowed to be posted to respondent No. 3. The petitioner, in order to prove his case, appeared as his own witness and produced a clerk of the Post Office, High Court. Chandigarh. The petitioner deposed that on 24th July. 1978. he booked a call in the name of the Registrar and communicated the stay order to Mr. Sher Singh, his Personal Assistant, who assured him that he would communicate the same to the Registrar and the Vice-Chancellor of the University. On the same day, he sent telegrams to the Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar. Mr. Sher Singh has filed an affidavit wherein he denied having received any message on telephone from the petitioner. The Registrar has also denied having received any information on 24th July, 1978. He further said that he was on leave on that date. The receipt of the telegrams on 24th July. 1978. is also denied by respondents Nos. 1 and 2. However, it to not disputed that a copy of the stay order passed by the High Court, was received by respondent No. 1 on 25th July. 1978. The original file containing the stay order has been produced in the Court by the learned Counsel for respondent No. L On the back of the copy of the order, respondent No. 1 passed the following order :-

Appointment letter to Dr. S.B. Singhal should not be issued.

He marked it t0 the Registrar/Assistant Registrar (Establishment), on the same day. Thereafter, on that day, a note was written presumably by the Assistant Registrar (Establishment). as under:-

Registrar (on leave). The appointment letter has already been issued. (It was issued on 24-7-1978 please). For kind information PI.

It was marked to the Vice-Chancellor, who, after seeing the note, passed the following order:-

Seen. Reply to the petition to be filed.' (Photostat copy placed on the file).

12. Details regarding issuance of the letter of appointment to Dr. Singhal are contained in Annexure 'B' annexed to the reply of respondent No. 2. It is evident from the said notes that the proposal to issue the letter of appointment to Dr. Singhal was initiated on 22nd July, 1978, along with a fair letter for signature. The letter was received by the Assistant Registrar (Establishment) on the same day and was signed by him. He also ordered that the same be issued. 23rd July, 1978, was Sunday and the papers were received by the Superintendent Establishment on 24th July, 1978. Further orders have not been reproduced in the copy. The respondents' version is that the letter was despatched on 24th July, 1978. It appears to be correct, as Dr. Singhal has stated, that on 25th July. 1978, a note was received by him from the Vice-Chancellor of the Kurukshetra University that he should get himself relieved from the position of the Reader in Hindi and join as Professor of Hindi at the University without delay.

13. The petitioner, in order to fortify his case that respondents Nos. 1 and 2 came to know about the stay order on 24th July. 1978. also produced Om Parkash P. W. 2. Clerk in the Post Office, High Court. Chandigarh, who stated that at about 3.15 P.M.. a P. P. call was booked from the Post Office, High Court, to the Registrar, Rohtak. at telephone No. 2639 on that date. It matured at about 3.40 P.M. The person who booked the call had talk for three minutts with the Registrar. In cross-examination, he could not say as to who booked the call and who heard it at Rohtak. Prom the statement of the petitioner and that of the witness, it is proved that a call was booked by the petitioner but it is not clear as to who heard the same in the office of the Registrar at Rohtak. It is well settled that contempt proceedings are in the nature of quasi-criminal proceedings and the charge should be proved beyond a shadow of doubt. It has already been noted that respondent No. 2 was on leave on 24th July, 1978. In the aforesaid situation, it cannot be held that respondent Nos. 1 and 2 came to know about the stay order on 24th July. 1978, and that the letter of appointment to Dr. Singhal was issued after receipt of the information.

14. The next question that arises for determination is whether respondents Nos. 1 and 2 came to know about the stay order on 25th July, 1978, and if so, what is its effect.

15. Respondent No. 1 admittedly received the stay order on 25th July. 1978. The orders passed by him on the back of the copy of the stay order have been reproduced above. He, however, in his written statement states that he was distrustful of everything coming from Mr. Gupta but still he initiated action assuming that the copy supplied to the office was reflection of the genuine orders of the Hon'ble High Court. The copy of the order which was given by the petitioner in the office of respondent No. 1 contained the detailed order passed by the Hon'ble Bench. It was duly certified and bore seal of the Court. In the circumstances, there could be nothing suspicious about the order. Therefore, I am of the opinion that respondent No. 1 came to know about the order of this Court on 25th July, 1978.

16. The order specifically said that the post vacated by the petitioner should not be filled till the next date of hearing, that is, 3rd August, 1978. Respondent No. 1. instead of ordering that the post should not be filled till then, passed an order that the appointment letter to Dr. Singhal should not be issued. After receipt of the information that the appointment letter had been issued, he did not pass any order regarding takinc over of the charge by the new incumbent. On the other hand, he passed an order that realty to the petition be filed. this Court did not say in the stay order that the letter of appointment be not issued to the new incumbent. Rather, it said that the post be not filled. The word 'fill' has been defined in Black's Law Dictionary, 4th Edition, as 'to possess and perform the duties of'. In the Webster's Third New International Dictionary, it means, 'to possess and perform the duties of (an office)'. From the above definitions, it is evident that the filling of a post is a step further than the issuance of a letter of appointment, and includes joining the post by the new incumbent. Respondent No. 1 could order that Dr. Singhal be not allowed to join the post till the stay order was in force. He could further direct that Dr. Singhal be informed telegraphically or telephonically. If that had been done, Dr. Singhal would not have joined on 27th July, 1978.

17. Respondent No. 1, in his written statement, has pleaded that Dr. Gupta's post had been filled up as the letter of appointment had been issued and the reversal of the order would have involved the University in numerous complications. In case he felt that if Dr. Singhal was not allowed to join, that would create complications for the University, the only course for him was to get the order of stay vacated. He could not by-pass the order on such a pretext. The plea taken by him has, thus, no merit. In my view, he is guilty of the contempt of Court.

18. Respondent No. 2, in his written statement categorically stated that he did not come to know about the stay order on that date. He was on leave on that date and a day earlier also. His Personal Assistant, Mr. Sher Singh, has denied that he received any telephonic message from the petitioner. The telegram sent by the petitioner was received on 25th July. 1980, in the University. According to respondent No. 2, he was not informed about the telegram and the same was sent to the office of the Vice-Chancellor. There are no grounds to disbelieve the affidavits of respondent No. 2 and Sher Singh in this regard. Therefore, it cannot be held that respondent No. 2 came to know about the stay order even on 25th July, 1978.

19. The counsel for the petitioner has further argued that respondent No. 2 has admitted that he came to know about the stay order from a news item in the Tribune on the morning of 27th July, 1978. Dr. Singhal joined the post on that date in the afternoon. According to him, respondent No. 2 could have stopped Dr. Singhal from joining the post in view of the stay order, which he failed to do, and thus he is also guilty of the contempt of Court.

20. I have given due consideration to the argument of the learned Counsel and find force in it. Respondent No. 2 has taken the plea that after reading the news item in the Tribune, he put a 1 query askinff if there was any stay order regarding filling up of the post of the Professor of Hindi on which Dr. Sinehal had joined. He could instead of putting the query at that staee could have passed an order that if Dr. Singhal had not joined, he should not be allowed to join. If that order had been passed. Dr. Singhal would not have been allowed to join the post in the after--noon on 27th July, 1978. Thus, the order of the High Court would have been complied with. If the respondent wanted to know as to whether Dr. Singhal had joined or not before the passing of such an order, he could immediately do so by calling the officer concerned from the office. He, however, instead of adopting the said course, adopted a unique course by putting a query, which was not expected from a responsible officer like the Registrar. After taking into consideration the said circumstances, I am of the opinion that he too is guilty of the contempt of Court.

21. The counsel for the petitioner has next contended that Dr, Singhal also came to know about the stay order on 24th July, 1978, and later on 27th July, 1978, when the news item appeared in the Tribune and he took charge on 27th July. 1978, in the afternoon. He has vehemently argued that Dr. Singhal, respondent No. 3, also committed the contempt of Court.

22. I am not impressed with this contention of the learned Counsel. Dr. Singhal has stated that he was present In the High Court before the Bench consisting of S. S. Sandhawalia, C.J. and S.S. Dewan. J. on 24th July, 1978. where he had gone to prosecute his writ petition and after the hearing, he immediately left for Kurukshetra along with his co-petitioners in that case, He further says that he did not subscribe to the Tribune and thus did not read that paper dated 27th July, 1978. He read only Hindustan Times wherein the news item did not appear. There are no grounds to disbelieve the affidavit of respondent No. 3. In the circumstances, he cannot be held guilty of the contempt of Court.

23. Now. I advert to the question of sentence. Respondents Nos. 1 and 2 have tendered apologies in the alternative. It has been noticed that there is growing tendency between the people of all ranks to disregard law on one pretext or the other and then to tender apologies. The result is that the confidence of the public in the Courts is being shaken. The purpose underlying the law of contempt is to maintain their confidence in the Courts of justice and uphold the majesty and dignity of the Courts. It is not for the sake of private persons or Judges as individuals. After taking into consideration all the circumstances, I am not inclined to accept the apologies and grant pardon to the said respondents. Consequently. I imposed a sentence of fine of Rs. 1,000 only on each of the said' two respondents, and in default thereof, fifteen days' simple imprisonment. The fine may be deposited within a period of two months. I, however, dismiss the petition against respondent No. 3 and discharge the rule against him.


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