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Omesh Saigal and anr. Vs. R.K. Dalmia - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContempt of Court
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Original No. 55 of 1968
Judge
Reported inAIR1969Delhi214; 1969CriLJ896; 5(1969)DLT24; ILR1969Delhi110
ActsContempt of Courts Act, 1952 - Sections 1, 3(2) and 4; Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1898 - Sections 499; Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 - Sections 178, 179 and 228
AppellantOmesh Saigal and anr.
RespondentR.K. Dalmia
Advocates: I.M. Lal, Adv. for Omesh Saiga; V.D. Misra, Addl. Standing Counsel
Cases ReferredQueen v. Gray
Excerpt:
.....para are stated to be founded on rumours. all this has to be taken in the light of the fact that shri dalmia himself states that on that day he went to the court in spite of his bad health and in spite of the fact that he had nto moved out of his house for some time or even during the long strike which entailed a heavy loss. i am satisfied that he must have told him, that he had gto some secret inquiry initiated against him and that he should withdraw the orders otherwise he would teach shri saigal a lesson. this conduct was clearly an act tending to impede, embarrass or obstruct the court in the discharge of its duties. i cannto but strongly condemn any one interested in a litigation to walk into the chamber of the judge and use threatening words or ask the judge to withdraw an order..........to him on 15th october. 1968. the circumstances that led to the report may now be set out.2. shri omesh saigal, sub divisional magistrate, new delhi, made a report on 27th july, 1968, to the deputy commissioner that he had a case (state v. kewalramani and twelve others) fixed in his court for 27th july, 1968; that the case was taken up immediately after lunch when the accused were ordered to be released on bail; that according to the sessions court the file was sent to shri n, c. jain, sub divisional magistrate, new delhi, for consideration of the surety bonds for release of the accused persons; that by about 5.20 p. m. the surety bonds of 12 accused persons had been accepted but no surety was present for the 13th accused; that at about 5.35 p. m. when 'mr. badri nath, mr. ramesh.....
Judgment:

S.K. Kapur, J.

1. Upon a report received from the Additional District Magistrate that Shri R. K. Dalmia has committed contempt of Court, a notice was issued to him on 15th October. 1968. The circumstances that led to the report may now be set out.

2. Shri Omesh Saigal, Sub Divisional Magistrate, New Delhi, made a report on 27th July, 1968, to the Deputy Commissioner that he had a case (State v. Kewalramani and twelve others) fixed in his Court for 27th July, 1968; that the case was taken up immediately after lunch when the accused were ordered to be released on bail; that according to the Sessions Court the file was sent to Shri N, C. Jain, Sub Divisional Magistrate, New Delhi, for consideration of the surety bonds for release of the accused persons; that by about 5.20 P. M. the surety bonds of 12 accused persons had been accepted but no surety was present for the 13th accused; that at about 5.35 P. M. when 'Mr. Badri Nath, Mr. Ramesh Chander, Magistrate 1st Class and myself were sitting in the retiring room having a cup of tea, Mr. N. C. Jain came from his Court and lighted a cigarette. Shortly after he was followed by twenty/ thirty people who pressed him for the acceptance of the bail-bond of one of the accused in the afore-mentioned case. Mr. Jain told them that he had already accepted the bail-bonds of twelve accused and as no surety was present at the time when he was holding the Court, now he will nto accept the surety in the retiring room after Court hours.

Shortly afterwards at about 5.45 , a thin gentleman who introduced himself as R. K. Dalmia entered the room. At this all the other persons who were pressing Mr. Jain for the acceptance of the bail, left. He was politely given a seat. He enquired from us about our identities at which we introduced ourselves. Mr. Dalmia then requested Mr. Jain to accept the surety but Mr. Jain reiterated his position that the Court had already risen for the day. Mr. Dalmia said that many Magistrates considered and accepted the sureties at their residences but Mr. Jain informed him that he was nto going to do it after he had risen for the day'; that thereafter Shri Dalmia addressed Shri Jain in Hindi, which, as translated, reads -- ''Dalmia talks only once. Ram Krishan Dahmia has come. Even Pandit J. used to do the work asked by me. In case I ask Indira or Chavan, they also cannto turn. down my request'; that thereafter he suddenly turned towards Shri Omesh Saigal and told him that in the case he had summoned his men as accused and said the following in Hindi, which, as translated, reads -- 'I shall teach you a lesson for your childishness. Omesh Saigal, you have taken wrong proceedings against our men by acting in childish-manner. I have gto Initiated a secret inquiry against you. You will come to know after a few days. Withdraw your orders, otherwise I shall see you and teach you a lesson. I can be your well-wisher if you act as asked by us. You are nto understanding us. You have nto understood me. I have crores of rupees. By summoning my men, you have challenged a formidable foe. I shall see you'; and that by the afore-mentioned utterances Shri Dalmia had intimidated and insulted Shri Omesh Saigal for the acts done by the latter in the discharge of his judicial duties, had committed contempt of his Court and had also impliedly threatened Mr. Jain that it will be in Mr. Jain's interest to accept the surety.

3. Shri R. K. Dalmia in his reply affidavit had admitted having entered the room where the said three learned Magistrates were sitting though, accord- ing to him, the said Magistrates were sitting in the common room and nto in the retiring room of Shri Omesh Saigal. He has, however, denied having used the words attributed to him by Shri Omesh Saigal. His version of the happening on the 27th July 1968, may be set out in his own words-

'At about 5.35 P. M. Shri Kewalramani telephoned and narrated to me as to how he and other employees of the Management were put to unnecessary and avoidable harassment and were sent to police lock-up etc. He also informed me that the bail-bond of one of the 13 employees had nto been accepted. He requested me to go to the Court and make a request for the bail of the remaining one person to Shri N. C. Jain. I in sympathy with them went to the Court though owing to my bad health I have nto been going out anywhere and I did nto even go to the Keyenter's Factory during the long strike which entailed a heavy loss. When I reached the Court I learnt that Shri N. C. Jain was sitting in the retiring room and his staff was also sitting in the Court. I along with Shri Kewalramani, the Adviser, and Shri N. N. Kaul, the Commercial Manager of Edward Keventer (S) Pvt. Ltd. went to see Mr. Jain. I entered the retiring room and the said two gentlemen stayed within hearing distance at the door. Mr. Jain was pointed out to me by Mr. Kewalramani. I first introduced myself to Mr. Jain who offered me a seat. At that time two or three persons including one lady were also sitting there. I did nto know any of them. I first wanted to know the good names of the persons present there. One gentleman sitting next to Mr. Jain who was dressed with half sleeved and unbuttoned shirt replied that he was Mr. Omesh Saigal. Others did nto reply. I thanked Mr. Jain for having accepted bail-bonds of 12 persons and requested him that the next day being Sunday, if he accepted also the bail of the remaining one person who was a very poor employee, he would be saved from imprisonment for 2 days. While making this request I also said that the Magistrates had been granting bails in their chambers and retiring rooms and even at their residences during holidays. Even on a previous occasion, on 20-5-68, bails of seven persons in the case under sections 107/150 Cr, P. C. had been accepted by Shri Kapoor, Magistrate 1st Class, in this very retiring room. I further added that even Shrimati Indira Gandhi and Shri Chavan sometimes accept applications and grant requests at their residences in the interest of justice, and that he (Mr. Jain) had full discretion to accept the bail-bonds anywhere he liked. I also submitted to him that if he had any doubt regarding the soundness of the surety brought before him for the remaining person, the employer Company, i.e. Edward Keventer (S) Pvt. Ltd., which had assets worth crores of rupees, could stand surety. The learned Magistrate, however, did nto accept my request.'

Shri Dalmia also denied having addressed Shri Saigal in the language attributed to him. He, in his counter-affidavit, says-

'Mr. Saigal, while I was making an appeal to Mr. Jain only to accept bail of the remaining one accused also, intervened and in an angry mood said, 'why are you harassing us after Court's hours'. I told him that I was only making a request to Mr. Jain in the interest of justice and there was no occasion for him to intervene and stand in the way, I further told Mr. Saigal that all this trouble would nto have arisen if he had acceded to the repeated requests of the counsel to pass orders for bail early and nto as late as after 3.45 p.m. As already explained the entire matter rested with Shri N. C. Jain and Shri Saigal was nto in the picture. There was no occasion for me to ask Mr. Saigal to withdraw any order already passed as there was no order to be withdrawn by him. There was also no occasion at all for me to give him any threats as has been mentioned by him nor I had done so.'

4. Mr. Mani, the learned counsel for the alleged contemner, does nto dispute that in case it is held that Shri Dalmia used the words attributed to him he would be guilty of contempt of Court. Mr. Mani's effort, however, all along was to show that he had nto used the said words and the version given by Shri Dalmia in his affidavit was the correct one. Mr. Mani suggested that there was gross exaggeration on the part of Shri Omesh Saigal due to the fact that the latter bore a grievance against Shri Dalmia because of transfer petitions filed by accused persons, who are employees of Edward Keventer (S) Pvt. Ltd. in which company Shri Dalmia holds considerable interest, in two criminal cases from the Court of Shri Saigal. Mr. Mani underlined the allegations of personal bias made in the transfer petitions against Shri Omesh Saigal by the accused persons. He, however, did nto dispute that the case was transferred, without pronouncing upon the said allegations, on the ground that Shri Omesh Saigal having visited the spot, the quarrel at which place led to the prosecution, in his executive capacity, should nto try the case.

Mr. Mani also emphasised the following assertions in the counter-affidavit filed by Shri Dalmia as indicative of a grudge borne by Shri Omesh Saigal:

(1) The allegations made in paragraph 15 to the effect that Shri Omesh Saigal tried to put pressure on the representa- tives of the Management of Edward Keventer (S) Pvt. Ltd. to increase the remuneration of the Company's workmen. In the said paragraph it is stated--'

After the close of the meeting in the presence of the parties, Shri Saigal began to dictate the minutes of the meeting. He put certain words as having been agreed to by the Management's representatives which was nto a fact. Shri Kewalramani protested but Shri Saigal ignoring his protest, dictated his minutes and asked the Management's representatives to sign the same. Shri Kewalramani, however, at the time of signing these minutes added a note that they had nto expressed any opinion.'

(2) The allegations made in paragraph 16 that-

'it was rumoured that the police on the basis of various reports made by the Management moved for action against some strikers, but Shri Saigal insisted that some officer of the Management should also be imp leaded. It was at this that, on 18-5-68, summons were issued to the above said 6 officers and 4 employees of the Management under sections 107/150, Criminal Procedure Code, requiring their appearance in the Court of Shri Saigal, on 20-5-1968 at 10 A. M.'

This allegation was made in the transfer application as well and the learned Magistrate while replying to the same in his comments said-

'The allegations in this para are stated to be founded on rumours. I do nto think it calls for any comments'.

Mr. Mani said that this was no denial of the allegations and, thereforee, they should be taken as having been admitted by Shri Omesh Saigal.

(3) The allegations made in paragraph 17 of the affidavit that on 20th May, 1968, when surety-bonds for the accused persons had been prepared and placed before Shri Saigal the latter directed that those be produced before his link Magistrate Shri K. K. Bhasin as he had to go somewhere and adjourn the case to 23rd May, 1968. Shri Omesh Saigal thus declined to accept the bail-bonds of these accused while he accepted the bail-bonds furnished by the strikers (opposite party). Shri Bhasin Magistrate in turn handed over the bail-bonds to Shri Kapur Magistrate who accepted 7 bail-bonds but returned the remaining three on the ground that sureties were women. At this fresh surety bonds were prepared but by that time both Shri Bhasin and Shri Kapur had left the Court and the surety bonds were taken to the Additional District Magistrate, Shri R. K. Anand. Shri Saigal was also present there and the learned Additional District Magistrate asked the counsel for the accused persons to go to the Parliament Street and Shri Saigal would return and consider the sureties. The Advocate and the sureties waited till 6.00 P. M. but Shri Saigal did nto return and the three accused persons had to be sent to Tihar Jail.

5. The last of the allegations was contained in the transfer petition also with a slight difference in the version inasmuch as in the transfer petition it is stated that 'the bail-bonds were taken to Shri R. K. Anand, A. D. M. He was in meeting with other Magistrates. . . .' In his comments to this allegation Shri Omesh Saigal said that he returned to the Court premises at about 6.30 P. M. but no one was present.

6. It is in these circumstances that we have been called upon to answer whether Shri Dalmia is guilty of contempt of Court

7. The entire matter, in the circumstances, turns on the question as to whether or nto Shri Dalmia used the language attributed to him and, if not, did he use any language which constitutes contempt of Court? Mr. Misra, the learned counsel for the State, and Mr. Lal, appearing for Mr. Omesh Saigal, contended that the allegations made in the transfer application as to the personal bias were baseless; that Shri Omesh Saigal had no personal bias; that as appears from the transfer application itself Shri Saigal had gone to Shri R. K. Anand to attend a meeting and he had made alternative arrangements for consideration of the surety bonds; that the allegations made in the counter-affidavit about recording of some agreement by the representatives of the Management in the minutes stood falsified by the recorded minutes wherein it is stated that 'the representatives of the Management Mr. F. M. Kewalramani and Mr. Dharam Pal were also sympathetic in this regard and they stated that they can only give final assurance after consulting the Board of Directors. They promised consulting Board of Directors today'; and that in the application dated 3rd August, 1968; and that after the happening of 27th July, 1968, for urging additional grounds in support of the transfer of the case from Shri Omesh Saigal's Court, the talk between the learned Magistrates and Shri Dalmia had nto been mentioned. Mr. Misra is right when he says that the minutes recorded by Shri Omesh Saigal on the 15th day of May, 1968, do nto support the allegation of Shri Dalmia that Shri Saigal 'put certain words as having been agreed to by the Management's representatives which was nto a fact'.

8. The heart of the problem, as I have said already, is whether Shri Dalmia went to the retiring room where the learned Magistrates were sitting and used certain words which constitute contempt of Court? Shri Dalmia admits having gone into the chamber or the common room where the Magistrates were sitting. It also appears from his counter-affidavit that he bore a serious grudge against Shri Omesh Saigal, He also admits having said that even Shri-mati Indira Gandhi and Shri Chavan sometimes accepted applications and granted requests at their residences and having told Shri Saigal that 'all this trouble would nto have arisen if he had acceded to the repeated requests of the counsel to pass orders for bail early and nto as late as after 3.45 P. M.'

Taking this admission by Itself shows that Shri Dalmia did nto talk to Shri Saigal in a respectful manner expected of a party interested in litigation. All this has to be taken in the light of the fact that Shri Dalmia himself states that on that day he went to the Court in spite of his bad health and in spite of the fact that he had nto moved out of his house for some time or even during the long strike which entailed a heavy loss. Shri Dalmia was nto directly concerned with the litigation and he was nto in the legal sense a representative of the accused persons. He should nto have walked Into the chamber of the learned Magistrates and should have approached them only through the counsel. Shri Dalmia must have, thereforee, been in an excited mood at that time.

Having regard to these facts, I have no doubt in my mind that even if the words attributed to Shri Dalmia may nto be the exact words used by him yet substantially the version of Shri Omesh Sal-gal is correct. I am satisfied that he must have told him, that he had gto some secret inquiry initiated against him and that he should withdraw the orders otherwise he would teach Shri Saigal a lesson. He must have also spoken to Shri Jain the words attributed to him. He must have also made a show of his wealth and threatened that Shri Saigal had challenged a formidable foe. This conduct was clearly an act tending to Impede, embarrass or obstruct the Court in the discharge of its duties. It was nothing short of an effort to interfere with the orderly administration of justice. Administration of justice cannto be effective unless respect for it is fostered and maintained. Such interference shakes the very pillars of the administration of justice and the confidence of the people in the Courts which Is of prime Importance to the litigants in their struggle for the protection of their rights and liberties. The purpose of the contempt jurisdiction is to uphold the majesty and dignity of the law Courts and the Image of such majesty in the minds of the public cannto be allowed to be distorted. Action for contempt is nto for the purpose of placing Judges In a position of immunity from criticism but is aimed at protection of the freedom of individuals and the orderly and equal administration of laws. I cannto but strongly condemn any one interested in a litigation to walk Into the chamber of the Judge and use threatening words or ask the Judge to withdraw an order at the threat of teaching him, a lesson. It must, thereforee, be held that Shri Dalmia committed contempt of Court.

9. Before parting with this case I may however, say that I have nto felt very happy about Shri Jain's refusal to consider, the surety bond of the accused person on the ground that he had risen for the day from the Court. Whereas I do appreciate that he worked up to 5.15 P.M. in scrutinising the bail-bonds of 12 accused persons, I should have expected, that uninfluenced by the none too proper conduct of Shri Dalmia or some others he should have devoted a few more minutes and considered the bail-bond of the accused particularly when the following day happened to be al Sunday. Liberty of the subjects must be given a top priority in a spirit of dedicated devotion. One must always remember that the rights of the subjects flow nto from the mercy of the Courts but from the guarantees of our system of laws, namely, no person should be deprived of his liberty even for a moment except in strict conformity with law. Courts exist to administer law as well as justice in conformity with law and spending a few| more minutes even after 5.15 P.M. would have exhibited a better desire for fostering the administration of justice.

10. That takes me to the punishment and I must confess that this has given me a few anxious moments. I, however, feel that having regard to the fact that Shri R. K. Dalmia is an old man of about 75 years with ill health and must have been carrying a feeling of frustration on one of his workmen being sent to jail when an order for bail had already been passed, I consider that the interest of justice will be served by administering a warning to Shri Dalmia. This lesser punishment is being awarded having regard to the circumstances of this case but we do want to sound a note of warning that any act impairing the majesty of the Courts will be dealt with strongly. I would like to point out that no person has a choice of taking law into his own hands and Interfere with the Impartial administration of justice. If any person has any grievance against judicial orders made by Courts there are ample remedies for rectification of the errors, but the flow of administration of justice must be kept unimpeded and its chan- nels dear. The contemner will also pay Rs. 200/- as costs.

11. Shri Dalmia was nto present in Court when the rule was heard on 6th November, 1968. An application was, however, filed for his exemption from personal appearance supported by a medical certificate to the effect that he was suffering from hypertension, palpitation of heart and weakness. In view of this we heard the rule in his absence. He Was, however, directed to be present today.

12. Shri Dalmia also tendered a written apology towards the end of the arguments, it is stated in that application:--

'I had no intention to commit any contempt of Court and as advised by my counsel, I committed no such contempt Still if the Hon'ble Court consider, that what I uttered constitutes contempt of Court, I tender my unqualified apology.'

This is no apology in the eye of law, and I would decline to accept It,

Jagjit Singh, J.

13. I agree.

Hardayal Hardy, J.

14. I have had the advantage of reading the judgment prepared by my learned brother Kapur J. and I completely agree with him that it seems hardly necessary to add anything of my own. There is however one aspect of the matter which was adverted to by the learned counsel for the respondent although en passant. In the course of his argument to which a brief reference may be made. It was argued that the alleged action of the respondent no matter how audacious and reprehensible, was still nto punishable as pontempt by this Court because S. 3(2) of the Contempt of Courts Act 32 of 1952 excludes the jurisdiction of the High Court in cases where the acts alleged to constitute contempt of subordinate courts are punishable as contempt under specific provisions of the Indian Penal Code e. g. Sections 228, 178 and 179 etc. In the present case the action of the respondent it was urged, was no more than offering an insult to Shri Omesh Saigal and criticising his conduct as a judicial officer by telling him that he had taken wrong proceedings against his men. The argument appears to me to be wholly misconceived. The essential ingredients of an offence under Section 228 I. P. C. are firstly, intention; secondly. Insult or Interruption to a public servant; and thirdly, the public servant concerned should be sitting in any stage of Judicial proceeding.

15. At the time when the respondent visited the retiring room or common room of the magistrates, as he preferred to call it, Shri Omesh Saigal was nto sitting in any stage of judicial proceeding. Under the orders passed by the Sessions Court on a transfer application filed by the accused In whom the respondent was interested, the task of accepting bail bonds had been entrusted to another magistrate, Shri N. C. Jam. According to the respondent himself, Shri Omesh Saigal was nto in the picture at all. His only sin, if sin it might be called, in the eyes of the respondent was that in the discharge of his judicial functions, he had ordered process to issue against some officers and workmen of Edward Keventer (S) Pvt. Limited in which the respondent is stated to have substantial interest, on a complaint filed before him. Moreover, the words addressed to Shri Omesh Saigal, as already stated by my learned brother, were substantially as had been reproduced in the report made to us. These words are very much more than a mere insult to the magistrate. They scandalize his court in such a way as to create distrust in the popular mind and impair the confidence of people in courts.

16. Lord Russel of Killowen said in Queen v. Gray (1900) 2 Qb 36.

'Any act done or writing published calculated to bring a court or a judge of the court into contempt, or to lower his authority is a contempt of court. That is one class of contempt. Further any action done or writing published, calculated to obstruct or Interfere with the due course of justice or the lawful process of courts is a contempt of court. The former class belongs to the category which Lord Hardwick, L. C., characterised as 'Scandalising a court or a judge.'

17. That the respondent's Intention was nto merely to threaten Shri Omesh Saigal and cast un-merited aspersions on him in respect of certain action which he had taken in the discharge of his Judicial functions, but also to administer a warning to his colleague Shri N. C. Jain who had seizing of the case at that time. His further intention would also appear to be to give as much publicity to what he had done because of the admission made in his affidavit that before entering the retiring room he had asked his men to wait outside within the hearing distance. It could be a spirit of sheer bravado that had prompted this hard-boiled business-man to do so. The object clearly was to scandalize the magistrates and thus to deflect them from a strict and non-hesitant performance of their duties.

18. I have thereforee no hesitation in holding that section 3(2) of the Act can- nto stand in the way of this Court's jurisdiction in taking action for con tempt against the respondent for which but for his old age and falling health a sentence of imprisonment would have been more appropriate punishment.

Rgd

19. Order accordingly.


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