(1) After announcing our order yesterday in this case a doubt occurred in our mind if it was permissible to impose a sentence of imprisonment for two months, in default of payment of fine, on the contemner, we thereforee, directed that the case be placed before us again this morning. The contemner is also present. We have heard on this point Shri Parkash Narain. Learned Central Government Counsel, Shri Pritam Singh Safeer, Chairman of the Bar Council, Shri D. D. Chawla, President of the Singh Court Bar Association, and Shri Bishambar Dayal, learned Standing Counsel for the State of Delhi. Shri Bal Raj Trikha, a senior member of the bar also offered to express his views on the point and we had the benefit of hearing him as well.
(2) Our attention in this connection has been drawn to sections 63 to 70 of the Indian Penal Code and section 25 of the General Clauses Act. The latter section reads thus:
'25. Recovery of Fines - Section 63 to 70 of the Indian Penal Code (XLV of 1860) and the Provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure for the time being in force in relation to the issue and the execution of warrants for the levy of fines shall apply to all fines imposed under any Act., Regulation, rule or bye-law unless the Act, Regulation, rule or bye-law contains an express provision to the contrary.'
The definition of 'offence' contained in section 4(1)(o), Criminal Procedure Code, confined as it is to the code, does nto seem to us to throw much light in the point before us. Reference has then been made to S. 3(38) of the General Clauses Act in which 'offence' has been defined to mean any act or omission made punishable by any law for the time being in force. It is argued by the learned counsel, who have assisted us, that reading these provisions together, it is obvious that the power to order imprisonment in default of payment of fine must necessarily vest in this Court, when punishing a contempt, by virtue of the power conferred by section 4 of the Contempt of Courts Act which fixes the outside limit.
According to this argument, the second proviso to section 4 does nto exhaust the power of this Court in the matter of the sentence, for this power is supplemented by section 64 of the Indian Penal Code read with sections 3(38) and 25 of the General Clauses Act. On the toher hand, some members of the Bar appearing have expressed some doubt about the existence of such power in this Court on the ground that the real power conferred on a Court of record of punish for its contempt, originates from its status as a Court of record, which has been recognised by the Constitution of Article 215 and, punishable contempt of this Court may nto indubitably be held to be an offence as defined in S. 3(38) of the General Clauses Act.
Whether Article 215 expressly confers a new power or merely reserves the power possessed by a Court of record by declaring all High Courts to be Court of record, is again a point which perhaps may require deeper probe and fuller consideration on a more suitable occasion. In the present case, as the contemner is nto represented by any counsel, though eminent members of the bar, who have readily, and considering it as their duty, given us the benefit of their industry, research and their views, have discussed almost al conceivable aspects, we feel that even though, to our knowledge, in a large number of reported decisions, imprisonment in default of payment of fine has been ordered, evidently on the assumption that such power exists, it would be in the respect and modify our order made yesterday by deleting the sentence of two months' imprisonment to be suffered by him in default of payment of fine.
In all toher respects, the sentence of imprisonment and fine remains unaltered. This order made yesterday. We must, before concluding, thank the members of the Bar for their valuable assistance.
(3) Sentence reduced.