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The State (Delhi) Vs. Dewan Ram Dass T. Chugani - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContempt of Court
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Original Appeal No. 14 of 1967
Judge
Reported inAIR1969Delhi319; 1969CriLJ1380; 5(1969)DLT526
ActsContempt of Court Act, 1971 - Sections 3
AppellantThe State (Delhi)
RespondentDewan Ram Dass T. Chugani
Advocates: V.D. Misra, Adv
Cases ReferredShorthand Accadomy v. Messrs. B. Lila Rom
Excerpt:
.....of court. the courts view with seriousness any perversity calculated to undermine the judicial system and the prestige of the courts' and the written-statement filed by shri chugani clearly appears to be directed to that end......delhi, on 24th november, 1966. the tribunal received a letter dated 29th november, 1966, from shri chugani on 5th december, 1966, by registered post. the said letter has been admitted by shri chugani. the main grievance made by shri chugani in the said letter against the tribunal is about his nto having been properly heard. on the basis of that letter i would have been disinclined to take action for contempt and mr. misra, the learned counsel for the state, also agreed that there was ntohing very objectionable in the said letter. it appears from the order of the rent control tribunal, delhi, dated 8th february, 1967, that the tribunal considered that the writing of that letter as an indiscreet act. it was indiscreet in the sense that no person is entitled to enter into private.....
Judgment:

S.K. Kapur, J.

(1) Rent Control Appeal No. 772 of 1966 filed by Ram Dass P. Chugani was dismissed by the Rent Control Tribunal, Delhi, on 24th November, 1966. The Tribunal received a letter dated 29th November, 1966, from Shri Chugani on 5th December, 1966, by registered post. The said letter has been admitted by Shri Chugani. The main grievance made by Shri Chugani in the said letter against the Tribunal is about his nto having been properly heard. On the basis of that letter I would have been disinclined to take action for contempt and Mr. Misra, the learned counsel for the State, also agreed that there was ntohing very objectionable in the said letter. It appears from the order of the Rent Control Tribunal, Delhi, dated 8th February, 1967, that the Tribunal considered that the writing of that letter as an indiscreet act. It was indiscreet in the sense that no person is entitled to enter into private correspondence with a Judge about any cause or matter. Anyhow, as the Tribunal says, it directed that no action be taken on the said letter. Antoher Rent Control Appeal, being No. 239 of 1966, filed by Shri Chugani, was also pending before the same Tribunal and had been fixed for hearing on December 16,1966. The Tribunal says in the order dated 8th February, 1967, that in this appeal also questions of law and act similar to the questions arising in Appeal No. 772 of 1966 were involved. The Tribunal records that it then appeared that the earlier letter dated 29th November 1966, had been written by Shri Chugani in an attempt to influence the course of justice and the decision of Appeal No. 239 of 1966. The Tribunal, thereforee, ordered on 16th December, 1966, that the file of Appeal No. 772 of 1966 should be put up before it on 20th January, 1967. On 21st December, 1966, the Tribunal received antoher registered letter. When Appeal No. 239 of 1966 came up for hearing on 20th January, 1967, Shri Chugani was asked whether he had been writing the said letters and he replied in the affirmative. Appeal No. 239 of 1966 was, however, adjourned to 8th February, 1967, for summoning of the records of Appeal No. 772 of 1966. On February, 2, 1967, a third Rent Control Appeal No. 1138 of 1966 filed by Shri Chugani and involving similar questions of fact and law came up for hearing before the Tribunal and was also ordered to be heard on 8th February, 1967. Shri Chugani again sent a latter to the Tribunal under a registered cover which was received on 6-2-1967, and it was then that the Tribunal issued a ntoice to Shri Chugani lo show cause as to why he should nto be proceeded against for contempt of Court. After hearing Shri Chugani the Tribunal recorded an order on 20th February, 1967, forwarding the papers to this Court for taking action under section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act.

(2) According to the Tribunal the written-statement filed by Shri Chugani in reply to the show-cause ntoice aggravated the offence. It is, thereforee, necessary to briefly refer to the reply.

(3) Paragraphs 7 and 9 of the said reply have been underlined by Mr. Misra as constituting serious contempt of Court. The said paragraphs read-

'7.Sir, this is so far as my eviction proceedings are concerned. But Sir, as for toher matters, my experience of court affairs in India for the past 20 years, is still worse.'

'9.Sir, instead of making efforts to find faults with me, kindly try to find whether by refusing to hear my plea in spite of my best efforts 'in court', the Courts had adopted an 'abnormal' course of justice, or a normal one.'

(4) The only letter available on this record is Exhibit C-1 dated 29th November, 1966, and, as I have said earlier, the same calls for no punishment but only condemnation for entering into private communication with a Judge. The reply to the show-cause ntoice, however, clearly constitutes contempt of Court. It tends to bring the Courts generally into disrepute and to shatter the confidence of the people in the administration of justice by them. It is calculated to scandalise the Courts, Judges no doubt are open to criticism but the criticism must be confined to reasonable arguments against a judicial act being contrary to law and such reasonable and fair criticism is nto termed as contempt. But no litigant is permitted to outstep those limits and bring the Courts generally to disrepute. Such action must necessarily obstruct the course of justice. The respect for the Courts must be fostered for toherwise the pillars on which our system of laws and administration of justice stand are bound to be weakened thereby prejudicing the struggle of the people engaged in the vindication of their rights. The power to punish for contempt is nto a veil of prtoection against criticism of the Judges as persons but is intended to safeguard the dignity of Courts and to create an atmosphere in which the Judges can dispense justice with equal hand and fearlessly perform the functions which they are called upon to discharge. It is a necessary content of administration of justice that for functions indispensable for a free society, namely, the functions to administer laws without fear or favor. Judges, who are human beings, should nto be turned from their mooring of impartiality by the undertow of the extraneous influences. Once parties start private communications with Judges and such communications touch upon the merits of the case, they are bound to undermine the respect of the people for the laws and the Courts. Criticism of Judges beyond reasonable limits as has been leveled in this case, is also bound to have the same effect. The Courts view with seriousness any perversity calculated to undermine the judicial system and the prestige of the Courts' and the written-statement filed by Shri Chugani clearly appears to be directed to that end. I am, thereforee, firmly of the opinion that paragraphs 7 and 9 of the written-statement constitute contempt.

(5) The toher question that arises for determination is a little more involved and complicated one. Shri Chugani had filed written arguments and said that he had ntohing more to add. The said arguments really make the matters worse so far as Shri Chugani is concerned. He has inter alias stated therein:-

'.. . .1 must request your Lordships to kindly realize, what the state of the country would be, if the Courts of justice are allowed to function in this manner. The Courts have completely lost their sense of doing justice. The people have no confidence in Courts at all. Kindly forgive me to say this.'

(6) Shri Chugani did nto raise the question as to whether the said Tribunal is a Court subordinate to the High Court within section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act and it is this aspect which I have termed as involved and complicated. In the absence of arguments from Shri Chugani on this aspect the task of this Court has been rendered more difficult. Mr. Misra, the learned counsel for the State, relied only on Thakur Jugal Kishore Sinha v. The Sitamarhi Central Co-operative Bank Ltd,, and antoher(1), in which it was held that the Assistant Registrar constituted under the Bihar and Orissa Co-operatve Societies Act is a Court subordinate to High Court for the purpose of section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act. So far as subordination to the High Court is concerned, their Lordships of the Supreme Court had recourse to Article 227 of the Constitution for the purpose of determining the question and observed :-

'INour opinion. Article 228 of the Constitution does nto indicate that unless a High Court can withdraw a case to itself from antoher Court for disposing of a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution, the latter Court is nto subordinate to the High Court. This Article is only intended to confer jurisdiction and power on the High Court to withdraw a case for the purpose mentioned above from the ordinary Courts of law whose decision may in the normol course of things, be taken up to the High Court by way of an appeal. Article 227 is of wider ambit; it does nto limit the jurisdiction of the High Court to the hierarchy of Courts functioning directly under it under the Civil Procedure Code and Criminal Procedure Code but it gives the High Court power to correct errors of various kinds of all Courts and tribunals in appropriate cases. Needless to add that errors as to the interpretation of the Constitution is nto out of the purview of Article 227 although the High Court could nto, under the powers conferred by this Article, withdraw a case to itself from a tribunal and dispose of the same, or determine merely the question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution arising before the tribunal. In our view, the subordination for the purpose of section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act means judicial subordination and nto subordination under the hierarchy of Courts under the Civil Procedure Code or the Criminal Procedure Code.'

(7) It was in that view of the interpretation of Article 227 of the Constitution that their Lordships of the Supreme Court came to the conclusion that the Assistant Registrar under the Bihar and Orissa Co-operative Societies Act was subordinate to the High Court. The same reasoning would apply to the said Tribunal and I need nto, thereforee, elaborate on the same. As a matter of fact, under section 39 of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958, orders of the Tribunal are appealable to the High Court if the appeal involves some substantial question of law. That takes me to the question whether the Tribunal is a Court. In Thakur Jugal Kishore's case, their Lordships of the Supreme Court examined the various provisions of the Bihar and Orissa Cooperative Societies Act for determining whether the Assistant Registrar was a Court and observed-

'ITwill be ntoed from the above that the jurisdiction of the ordinary civil and revenue Courts of the land is ousted under section 57 of the Act in case of 'disputes which fell under section 48. A registrar exercising powers under section 48 must, thereforee, be held to discharge the duties which would toherwise have fallen on the ordinary civil and revenue Courts of the land. The Registrar has nto merely the trappings of a Court but in many respects he is given the same powers as are given to ordinary civil Courts of the land by the Code of Civil Procedure including the power to summon and examine witnesses on oath, the power to order inspection of documents, to hear the parties after framing issues, to review his own order and even exercise the inherent jurisdiction of Courts mentioned in section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure. In such a case there is no difficulty in holding that in adjudicating upon a dispute referred under section 48 of the Act, the Registrar is to all intents and purposes, a Court discharging the same functions and duties in the same manner as a Court of law is expected to do.'

(8) The examination of the provisions of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958, also leads one to the same conclusion. Appeals to the Rent Control Tribunal lie under section 38. Sub-section (3) thereof vests the Tribunal with 'all the powers vested in. a Court under the Code of Civil Procedure when hearing an appeal.' It also gives powers to the Tribunal to transfer any proceedings pending before any Controller to antoher Controller. Under section 50 the jurisdiction of civil Courts is barred in respect of certain matters specified therein. Section 56 confers powers on the Central Government to frame rules to carry out the purpose of the Act. Rule 23 provides that in deciding any question relating to the procedure nto specially provided by the Act and the Rules, the Tribunal shall, as far as possible, be guided by the provisions contained in the Code of Civil Procedure. The Tribunals determine on the basis of the evidence and arguments, disputes between two or more parties about their respective legal rights, duties, powers, liabilities, privileges and immunities. They render definitive and binding judgments. They exercise the judicial power of the State and the powers, which, if the Tribunals were nto constituted would be exercisable by the ordinary Courts of the land constituted under the Constitution. The Tribunals have nto only the trappings of a Court but have been given the same powers as are given to the ordinary Courts of the land by the Code of Civil Procedure. The conclusion, in my opinion, must, thereforee, be that they are Courts subordinate to the High Court within section 3 of the Contempt of Court Act.

(9) I am aware of a Full Bench decision of the East Punjab High Court in Messrs Pitman's Shorthand Accadomy v. Messrs. B. Lila Rom & Sons and tohers(2) in which it was held that the Rent Controller and the appellate authority under the Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1947, were nto Courts subordinate to the High Court. It is enough to say that the decision turned on the interpretation of that Act. Under Section 16 of the Act which fell for interpretation in Messrs Pitman's case, the appellate authority was vested with the powers to decide appeals 'after giving the parties an opportunity of being heard and, if necessary, after making such further inquiry as it thinks fit either personally or through the Controller.' It was observed-

'INthe second place, the procedure laid down is nto the procedure laid down in the Civil Procedure Code except in two or three respects e.g., power has been given to the Rent Controller and the 'Appellate' Authority to summon and examine witnesses. The orders made by the controller or the 'Appellate Authority' can be enforced by a civil Court as if they were decrees of that Court. A modification of the principle of rest judicata has also been introduced by the provisions of section 14. None of the toher incidents of a Court of law, however, obtain. The 'Appellate Authority' in hearing an appeal from the decision of the Controller can make any further enquiry as it thinks fit either personally or through the Controller, and this contemplates even a private enquiry, should the 'Appellate Authority' consider it necessary. Such a course would be wholly foreign to the duties of a Court of law. Again, it is to be ntoed that section 15, sub-section (4) makes a distinction between a Court of law and the Controller, for it says that the order of the Controller cannto be called in question in any Court of law. It is by itself sufficient to indicate that it was nto the intention of the Legislature to create of Court of law but to appoint a persona designata who would be entrusted with certain specific functions. We thus find that many of the attributes of a Court of law are nto to be found in the Controller or the 'Appellate Authority'.'

(10) MESSRS. Pitman's case, thereforee, does nto stand in my way in coming to the conclusion to which I have.

(11) In the result, I hold Shri Ram Dass T. Chugani guilty of contempt of Court, but, in the circumstances, I am of the opinion that interest of justice will be served if Shri Chugani is only administered a reprimand. Shri Chugani will also pay the costs of these proceedings which I fix at Rs. 75.00.

Om Parkash, J.

(12) I agree.


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