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Advocate-general of Kerala Vs. thevar Tharakan - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1961CriLJ109
AppellantAdvocate-general of Kerala
Respondentthevar Tharakan
Cases ReferredHoshangabad v. Jawahar Lal Ramchand
Excerpt:
.....is treated as a contempt of court is because their tendency and sometimes their object is to deprive the court of the power of doing that which is the end for which it exists -namely, to administer justice duly, impartially and with reference solely to the facts judicially brought before it. 8. these well-known principles have been followed by the various high courts in india. in view of all these it cannot be disputed that these letters amount clearly to contempt of court. 407: there appears to be an impression abroad that an apology consists of a magic formula of words which has but to be uttered as an incantation at the last possible moment when all else has failed and it is evident that retribution is inevitable, to stave off punishment. we have already indicated our view that the..........issued to him for the disposal of the petition. but instead, he was sending letters by post to the subordinate judge. mr. parameswara iyer, however, found it difficult to continue as receiver and he tendered ms resignation. after his discharge, one mr. c. sankaran nair was appointed as receiver in his place. he also filed reports about the conduct of the respondent. then also the respondent did not appear in court, but persisted in sending letters addressed to the subordinate judge.3. some of the letters have been marked as exts. p-1 to p-8 in this case. it is not necessary to extract them here. a reading of the letters would show that they contained scurrilous attacks on the conduct and character of kumari p. janaki amma, the subordinate judge of otta-charge with reference and in.....
Judgment:

P. Govinda Menon, J.

1. This is an application made by the Advocate-General under Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act against the respondent, Chakidiyi Thazhathe-thil Thevar Tarakan.

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

The respondent is the 8th defendant in a suit O, Section 64 of 1943 pending in the Sub-Court, Ottapalam. The suit was one for partition and a preliminary decree for partition had been passed. Application for the passing of the final decree is pending and the same had been stayed by the High Court. The Commissioner Shri A. N. Parameswara Iyer, Advocate was the receiver appointed by the Court to manage the properties of the tarwad. There were reports filed by him complaining of various acts of obstructions committed by the respondent. The respondent was not being represented by a lawyer and he did not also appear in court, in response to the notice issued to him for the disposal of the petition. But instead, he was sending letters by post to the Subordinate Judge. Mr. Parameswara Iyer, however, found it difficult to continue as receiver and he tendered Ms resignation. After his discharge, one Mr. C. Sankaran Nair was appointed as receiver in his place. He also filed reports about the conduct of the respondent. Then also the respondent did not appear in court, but persisted in sending letters addressed to the Subordinate Judge.

3. Some of the letters have been marked as Exts. P-1 to P-8 in this case. It is not necessary to extract them here. A reading of the letters would show that they contained scurrilous attacks on the conduct and character of Kumari P. Janaki Amma, the Subordinate Judge of Otta-charge with reference and in relation to the discharge of her duties as Subordinate Judge. Some of the letters have gone further and attack is made even on her personal character and integrity and imputing motive that she was helping the receiver with some purpose.

4. The application for contempt together with the affidavit in support of it containing the offending passages in the letters written by the respondent were served on the respondent and he was asked to show cause why action should not be taken against him. As he did not appear in court on the date of hearing, this Court had to order his arrest and he was produced before the court. He is not defended by a lawyer. On being questioned, he wanted to file a counter statement expressing regret for what he had done. He was released on his executing a personal bond to appear at the hearing of the' case. He has filed a statement. In that statement he has detailed the peculiar circumstances under which he happened to send those letters and he says that now that the Advocate General has pointed out that what, he did was wrong, he is tendering an unconditional apology to this Court and to the Subordinate Judge, Ottapalam. To our specific question he admitted having sent all the letters and said that he had nothing further to add to what he had already stated in his statement and that he is expressing regret and tendering an unconditional apology to the court and praying; that the apology may be accepted and he may be exonerated.

5. The question for decision is whether the various letters which, he admits, he had sent to the Subordinate Judge constitute a contempt of court. The learned Advocate-General has invited our attention to certain principles applicable to such matters as laid down in leading English and Indian decisions.

6. In Halsbury's Laws of England - third Edition Vol. 8 - dealing with contempt of court at page 7 para 10 it is stated:

Every private communication to a Judge for the purpose of influencing his decision upon a pending matter, and whether or not accompanied by the offer of a bribe or by personal abuse, is a contempt of court as tending to interfere with the course of justice.' Again in para 9 it is stated: Scandalous attacks upon judges are punished by attachment or committal upon the principle that they are, as against the public, not the judge, an obstruction to public justice; and a libel on a judge, in order to constitute a contempt of court, must have been calculated to cause such an obstruction.

7. In Bex v. Gray, 1900 - 2 QB 36, Lord Russell, the then Lord Chief Justice of England says:

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 act done or writing published calculated to obstruct or interfere with the due course of justice or the lawful process of the courts is a contempt of court. The former class belongs to the category which Lord Hardwicke, L. C. characterised as scandalising a court or a judge.' Bowen. L.J. in Helmore v. Smith (1886) 35 Ch D 449 at p. 455 observes:The object of the discipline enforced by the court in case of contempt of court is not to vindicate the dignity of the court or the person of the Judge, but to prevent undue interference with the administration of justice.

In Rex v. Parke (1903)-2 KB 432 at p. 436, Wills, J. observes as follows:

The reason why the publication of articles like those with which we have to deal is treated as a contempt of court is because their tendency and sometimes their object is to deprive the court of the power of doing that which is the end for which it exists - namely, to administer justice duly, impartially and with reference solely to the facts judicially brought before it. Their tendency is to reduce the court which has to try the case to impotence, so far as the effectual elimination of prejudice and prepossession is concerned. It is difficult to conceive an apter description of such conduct than is conveyed by the expression 'contempt of court'.

In Rex v. Davies (1906) 1 KB 32, Mr. Justice Wills who delivered the judgment of the court observes as follows:

What then is the principle which is the root of and underlies the cases in which persons have been punished' for attacks upon courts and interferences with the due execution of their order? It will be found to be, not the purpose of protecting either the court as a whole or the individual Judges of the court from a repetition of them, but of protecting the public and especially those who, either voluntarily or by compulsion, are subject to its jurisdicton from the mischef they will incur if the authority of the tribunal be undermined or impaired.

The learned Judge cites from the judgment of Chief Justice Willmot in Rex v. Almon (1765). Wilmots Notes of Opinions and Judgments, 1757 to 1770 p. 243: 97 ER 94:

Attacks upon the judges' he says 'excite in the minds of the people a general dissatisfaction with all judicial determination...and whenever men's allegiance to the laws is so fundamentally shaken, it is the most fatal and 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 ire the channels by which the King's justice is conveyed to the people, To be impartial and to be universally thought so are both absolutely necessary for the giving justice that free, open, and unimpaired current which it has for many ages found all over this kingdom.

8. These well-known principles have been followed by the various High Courts in India. The learned Advocate General cited the Full Bench Decision. In the matter of Tushar Kanti Ghosh AIR 1935 Cal 419. The entire case law has been elaborately discussed in that case and they have given a classification of contempts. It is there stated:

There are three different sorts of contempt. One kind of contempt is scandalising the court itself. There may likewise be a contempt of court in abusing parties who are concerned in causes. There may be also a contempt of court in Pre-judicing mankind against persons before the cause is heard, There cannot be anything of greater consequence than to keep the streams of justice clear and pure, that parties may proceed with safety both to themselves and their characters.

9. In Sunnulal v. Yeshwantsing AIR 1951 Madh B 98 it has been observed:

The gravamen of the offence of contempt of court is any interference or the likelihood of interference with the course of justice. If the flow of the stream of justice is obstructed for any reason, that obstruction whether resulting from a proper motive or from indifference or from disregard of the consequences or from accidental omission, cannot be excused. Motive of the contemner cannot be considered in determining his guilt.

The intention of the writer therefore is immaterial. The question to consider in Such cases is what is the effect. If it has a tendency to obstruct or Interfere with the due and proper course of administration of justice the author will be guilty of contempt,

10. Reference was also made to other decisions, viz. In the matter of Tarit Kanti Biswas ILR, 45 Cal 169 : AIR 1918 Cal 988 (SB); Satyabodha Ramchandra, In re ILR 47 Bom 76 : AIR 1922 Rom 426 and In the matter of- Habib ILR 6 Lah 528 : AIR 1926 Lah 1 (FB), being some of them. It is not necessary to separately deal with all these cases. Suffice it to say that from the principles laid down in all these cases it is clear that every private communication to a Judge or Magistrate for the purpose of influencing his decision upon a matter publicly before him always is and ought to be reprobated. It is a course calculated, it tolerated, to divert the course of justice and is con-sidered as serious contempt of court.

11. In this instant case, the respondent has in more than one letter stated that the court and the Presiding Officer has become a 'business centre to fill the pockets of the receivers'. In Exi-P-3 it is stated that the subordinate Judge places importance more on favouritism than on administration of justice and that the respondent is going to leave the Ottapalam Sub-Court which is a business centre of the receivers and seek re-dress in another court, In para 2 of Ext. P-5 it is stated that filling up of the pocket of the advocate was done in her own interest and he winds up by saying that she the Subordinate Judge is a disgrace to the seat which she occuies, to the gown that she wears and to the college which gave her the degree. In all these letters it has been suggested without any justification whatsoever that she was not administering justice impartially and was always siding the receivers and that the receivers were perpetrating various atrocities purely because of the help rendered by the Subordinate Judge. In view of all these it cannot be disputed that these letters amount clearly to contempt of court.

12. The next question is what is the action that must be taken against the respondent. The respondent has filed a statement expressing regret and tendering unconditional apology for his thoughtless conduct. We agree with the learned Advocate General that the apology is only an. empty formality and that it is made only with a view to avoid or avert the consequences of the contemptuous act. What the respondent states in his statement is that because the Advocate General has presented this petition pointing out that the letters amount to contempt of court, he is apologising. We feel that it is not an expression of genuine contrition of the contemner. In the words of Vivian Bose, J. in Sub-Judge First Class, Hoshangabad v. Jawahar Lal Ramchand AIR 1940 Nag. 407:

There appears to be an impression abroad that an apology consists of a magic formula of words which has but to be uttered as an incantation at the last possible moment when all else has failed and it is evident that retribution is inevitable, to stave off punishment. It appears to be felt that a man should be free to continue unfounded 'attacks upon another's honour and character and integrity with the utmost licence till the last possible moment and then when he is unable to stave off the consequences of his infamous conduct any longer, all he need do is to waive this magic formula referred to as an apology in a Judge's face in order to emerge triumphantly from the fray. Nothing can be further from the truth.

An apology is not a weapon of defence forged to purge the guilty of their offences. It is not an additional insult to be hurled at the heads of those who have been wronged. It is intended to be evidence of real contriteness, the manly consciousness of a wrong done, of an injury inflicted and the earnest desire to make such reparation as lies in the wrong-doer's power.

The apology which has been tendered by the respondent cannot be of any avail.

13. This is a case where there were definite suggestion and allegations made in the various letters against the integrity, impartiality and personal character of the Subordinate Judge and a person who makes such scandalous allegations must not be permitted to ssume that he can do so and then plead immunity from punishment by expressing apology. It is necessary that this tendency to make false, scandalous and loose statements against the Subordinate Judiciary should be put an end to with a firm hand.

14. The next question which calls for consideration relates to the proper nature of the punishment which should be awarded in this case. We have already indicated our view that the contempt of which the respondent is found guilty Is of a very grave nature, It is a deliberate act persisted in and calls for punishment 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 a term of imprisonment is called for in this ease. We, therefore, sentence the respondent to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of three months. There will, however, be no order as to costs.


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