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The Advocate General, Kerala State, Ernakulam Vs. T.V. John - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContempt of Court
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberO.P. No. 2279 of 1963 (Contempt)
Judge
Reported inAIR1965Ker49; 1965CriLJ176
ActsContempt of Courts Act, 1952 - Sections 3
AppellantThe Advocate General, Kerala State, Ernakulam
RespondentT.V. John
Appellant Advocate V.P. Gopalan Nambiar, Adv. General
Respondent AdvocateParty in person
DispositionPetition accepted
Cases ReferredBrahma Prakash Sharma v. State of U. P.
Excerpt:
.....not necessary to prove affirmatively that there has been an actual interference with the administration of jus-tice by reason of such defamatory statement; while the highcourt should not be over-sensitive to well-meantcriticism, it shall not shirk its duty to maintainthe dignity of the court and to preserve the majestyof law. 7. judged in the light of these principles it is clear that the 'allegations that the munsiff hadreceived money by corrupt and illegal means would clearly amount to contempt of court. the respondent is not an illiterate person and ought to have known better. such being the case, to say that the munsiff had received money from the opposite side and passed the orders is clearly contempt of court. it follows that the respondent has committed contempt of court and has..........character of judicial officers will destroy theconfidence of the people in courts and impair thejudicial administration and bring the administration of justice into disrepute. it is the duty ofall citizens to preserve faith in the judicial, administration of 6ourts. if confidence in courts is shaken, it cuts at the root of the judicial administration upon which the successful working of democracy depends. it is to prevent these disastrousresults that this court is invested with powers topunish the contemners. 6. we may in this connection usefully extract the observations of mukerjea, j., as he then was, in brahma prakash sharma v. state of u. p. air 1954 sc 10:'if however, the publication of the disparaging statement is calculated to interfere with the due course of justice or proper.....
Judgment:

Govinda Menon, J.

1. This is an application by the Advocate-General under Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act--Act 32 of 1952--for taking action against the respondent.

2. The facts that gave rise to this petition are as follows:

The respondent was the second defendant in O. S. 523 of 1951 on the file of the Mavelikara Munsiff's court. His brother was the first defendant in the suit. On 9-6-1953 decree was passed against them for recovery of possession of the plaint schedule properties with arrears of rent. The first defendant in the suit got the decree reopened and a fresh decree confirming the reliefs granted by the first decree was again passed on 4-10-1954. In execution of the decree an application was made for the appointment of a Receiver and a. Receiver was appointed on 13-10-1961. On 4-12-1961 the wife of the respondent claiming herself to be in possession of the plaint property under a gift deed executed by the respondent filed a petition for cancellation of the order of appointment of the Receiver. After enquiry the petition was dismissed by the then Munsiff Sri K. P. Kurien on 22-6-1963. On 1-7-1963 the respondent filed the impugned petition Ex. P1 to the High Court wherein allegations of bribery and corruption are made against the judicial officers wbo were responsible for passing the decree and against Sri K. P. Kurien who had rejected his wife's objection petition to the delivery of the properties.

3. On receipt of the petition this Court direc-ed the District judge of Alleppey to conduct a preliminary enquiry. The learned District Judge got the remarks of the Munsiff. The Munsiff has denied the allegations against him. The respon-dent was then examined and he has admitted that he was the author of the petition and that the judicial officer referred to by him in the petition Ex. P 1 the then Munsiff Sri K. P. Kurien. He also admitted that he is not in a position to prove 1he actual receipt of the bribery by the Munsiff. At the conclusion of the enquiry the learned judge reported that the allegations were all false, that the imputation of bribery and dishonesty was thoroughly unjustified and recommended that action may be taken under the Contempt of Courts Act.

Thereafter the Advocate-General filed this petition. The application for contempt together, with the affidavit in support of it were served onthe respondent and he was called upon to show cause why action should not be taken against him. On receipt of the show cause notice the respondent filed a statement in this court wherein he mentioned the circumstances under which he happened to send the petition, that he has now reali-sed that what he did was wrong and that he is tendering an unconditional apology. This was on 10-2-1964. On 24.3.1964 he again sent a petition to this court wherein he resiled from the stand taken by him and reiterated the allegations which he had made against the various judicial officer.

4. To our specific question the respondent admitted having sent the petition Ex. P 1 to this court, that on receipt of the show cause notice he had filed a statement Ex. P 2 expressing regret and tendering an unconditional apology, that subsequently on 24-3-1964 he sent another petition Ex, P 3 and he stated that he is withdrawing the apology and he wanted to lead evidence about) the suit O. S. 523/51, the connected Receiver Application and the objections filed by his wife for the purpose of showing that no court would have passed such orders unless the officers concerned had taken bribe from the opposite party. He admitted that he has no personal knowledge of any bribe having been taken and stated that he cannot substantiate his allegations. If the respondent was aggrieved with the orders he had his remedies provided under the Civil Procedure Code and he cannot be allowed to impute dishonesty and corruption to the officers.

Even otherwise it is extremely doubtful whether it is permissible to a contemner to attempt to establish the truth of his allegations because as stated by Willmot C. J., Willmot's Opinions in Rex v. Davies, (1906-1 K. B. 32):

'The arraignment of the justice of the judges is arraigning the King's justice; it is an impeachment of his wisdom and goodness in the choice of his judges and excites in the mind of the people a general dissatisfaction with all judicial determination, and indisposes their minds to obey them; and whenever men's allegiance to the law is so fundamentally shaken it is the most fatal and most dangerous obstruction of justice and in my opinion calls out for a more rapid and immediate redress than any other obstruction whatsoever, not for the sake of the judges as private individuals, but because they are the channels by which the King's justice is conveyed to the people.'

This view derives support from a judgment of the Lahore High Court in the case In re K. L. Gauba, AIR 1942 Lah, 105 (FB) where it is laid down that it is not open to a person who scandalizes a court to lead evidence to prove the truth of the allegations and any such attempt would itself be a fresh contempt. The judgment contains an elaborate discussion on the subject and refers to the decisions of the Allahabad and Calcutta High Courts which embody the same principle and to the observations of Chitty, J., in Goats v. Chadwick(1894) 1 Ch. 347:

The plaintiff's counsel not only admitted but boldly asserted, and made it a part of their argument that the circular was libellous and that they could justify that libel, and they referred tosome of the evidence which apparently had beenadduced for the purpose of sustaining the justification. But the evidence and argument founded onit are irrelevant on this motion.'

This view has been followed in the case in Advocate General, Andhra Pradesh v. Seshagiri Rao, ILR (1959) Andh Pra 1282.

5. There can be little doubt that scurrilous.attacks on the integrity and honesty of the judi-cial officers as is Contained in Ext. P 1 do consti-tute ex facie contempt. Attacks of this kind onthe character of judicial officers will destroy theconfidence of the people in courts and impair thejudicial administration and bring the administration of justice into disrepute. It is the duty ofall citizens to preserve faith in the judicial, administration of 6ourts. If confidence in courts is shaken, it cuts at the root of the judicial administration upon which the successful working of democracy depends. It is to prevent these disastrousresults that this court is invested with powers topunish the contemners.

6. We may in this connection usefully extract the observations of Mukerjea, J., as he then was, in Brahma Prakash Sharma v. State of U. P. AIR 1954 SC 10:

'If however, the publication of the disparaging statement is calculated to interfere with the due course of justice or proper administration of law by such court, it can be punished summarily as contempt. One is a wrong done to the judge personally while the other is a wrong done to the public. It will be an injury to the public if it tends to create an apprehension in the minds of the people regarding the integrity, ability or fairness of the judge or to deter actual and prospective litigants from placing complete reliance upon the court's administration of justice or if it is likely to cause embarrassment in the mind of the judge himself in the discharge of his judicial duties. It is well-established that it is not necessary to prove affirmatively that there has been an actual interference with the administration of jus-tice by reason of such defamatory statement; it is enough if it is likely, or tends in any way to interfere with the proper administration of law.'

The law of contempt, therefore, has armed thiscourt with power and imposed upon it the duty ofpreventing any attempt by any person to interferewith the due course of justice or the proper administration of law by any court subordinate to it. Itis true that the jurisdiction to commit for contemptis an extraordinary one and therefore should be,sparingly and circumspectly used. While the HighCourt should not be over-sensitive to well-meantcriticism, it shall not shirk its duty to maintainthe dignity of the court and to preserve the majestyof law. The jurisdiction is exercised not to vindicate any personal interest of the judge but onlythe general administration of law which is the public concern. The test is whether the allegationsmade are of such a character or are made undersuch circumstances as to tend to obstruct or interfere with the due course of justice or the properadministration of law.

7. Judged in the light of these principles it is clear that the 'allegations that the Munsiff hadreceived money by corrupt and illegal means would clearly amount to contempt of court. Such attempts to destroy the confidence of people in courts should be put down with a stern band as they are exceedingly dangerous and mischievous. The respondent is not an illiterate person and ought to have known better. Because the decision has gone against him be has indulged freely in a slanderous attack on the conduct, character and integrity of the judicial officer with absolutely no justification whatsoever, Sri K. P. Kurien had assumed charge of the court only in May 1962 and it was in June 1962 that he disposed of the petition filed by the respondent's wife. There was not! even time to know the parties. Such being the case, to say that the Munsiff had received money from the opposite side and passed the orders is clearly contempt of court.

Even though the respondent expressed regret and tendered apology in his first statement he has resiled from it. His behaviour and conduct do not show the least trace of contrition. It follows that the respondent has committed contempt of court and has to be punished which should be sufficiently severe in order to be effectively deterrent. A sentence of fine will be of no purpose for bringing home to the respondent the full significance of the gravity of his conduct and interests of justice require that he should be given a substantive term of imprisonment.

We, therefore, sentence the respondent toundergo simple imprisonment for a period of fourmonths. There will be no order as to costs.


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