1. This is a motion for contempt of Court.
1-A. The petitioner had filed a writ petition which was No. 457 of 1973 in this Court challenging certain schemes under Section 68-C of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. He also moved a stay application along with the writ petition. The stay application was heard on 16-4-73 by a Single Bench of this Court presided over by Jain. J. Jain J. passed a detailed order granting stay in favour of the petitioner restraining the respondents from giving effect to the impugned schemes as also staying the hearing of certain objections by the Deputy Legal Remembrancer. Jain, J. further ordered that having regard to the urgency of the case the case along with connected writ petitions be listed for hearing on 9-7-73. Thereafter the respondents in the writ petition moved for reconsideration of the stay matter, but their prayer was rejected by Jain J. on 8-5-73. On 4-7-73, an application was moved before Hon'ble the Chief Justice for and on behalf of the Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation for ordering that the writ petitions aforesaid be placed before a Division Bench for hearing. The application was signed on behalf of the Corporation by opposite party Shri Raghuvir Singh and Shri R. N, Munshi, Additional Advocate-General and counsel for the State Road Transport Corporation. We may read the grounds on which the matter was requested to be placed before a Division Bench;
'From a bare perusal of the order passed by Hon'ble Mr. Justice Jain quoted above, it is clear that he has virtually decided the matter and has held that the schemes published under Section 68-C of the Act in pursuance of the Corporation Resolution dated 27-5-69 cannot be said to be the schemes framed by the Corporation. Though the learned Judge, while making the aforesaid observation has said that he is prima facie of that view yet it is clear from the order passed by him that in his view since the draft scheme prepared by the Corporation in pursuance of its Resolution dated 27-5-69 was not placed before the Corporation so that schemes prepared in pursuance of that resolution could not be said to be the scheme of the Corporation. In face of such a finding, it is difficult to conceive that when these matters are to be heard finally he will give any other decision in the matter.
That the Corporation further submits that when such a large number of Writ Petitions are involved it is eminently desirable that these matters should be heard by a Division Bench of this Hon'ble Court so that the dispute involved in these matters may be resolved without any further delay.
That beside this the Corporation further submits that questions raised in these Writ Petitions are of urgent nature and it will be in the public interest that questions involved in these petitions are decided finally by a Division Bench of this Hon'ble Court'
On 5-7-73, another application was moved before Jain J, by and on behalf of the State Road Transport Corporation that as they had moved Hon'ble the Chief Justice for referring the cases to a larger Bench the cases be not heard by him, Jain J. accordingly adjourned the hearing of the cases. On 20-7-73, the petitioner moved the present application for taking contempt proceedings against the opposite parties. On 3-8-73, the matter came up before Hon'ble the Chief Justice who ordered that a Division Bench consisting of us be constituted for hearing the writ petitions. He further ordered that a notice be issued to the opposite parties to show cause why they be not punished for contempt. The contempt is alleged to have been committed by the opposite parties when they alleged in the application dated 4-7-73 that Jain J. had already formed his opinion in the matter and it was difficult to conceive that when these matters would be heard finally by him, he would be giving any other decision hi the matter than what he had held in deciding the stay application.
2. The law on the subject of contempt is founded entirely on public policy. It is not there to protect the private rights of parties to a litigation or prosecution. It is there to prevent interference with the administration of justice and it should be limited to what is reasonably necessary for that purpose. In an ordered community courts are established for the specific settlement of disputes and for the maintenance of law and order. In the general interests of the community it is imperative that the authority of the courts should not be imperilled and that recourse to them should not be subject to unjustifiable interference. Various types of behaviour have been taken to constitute contempt. A study of decided cases is helpful for showing the attitude that the courts hadat different times taken and a certain pattern emerges. In any civilised society it is the function of the Government to maintain courts of law to which its citizens can have access for the impartial decision of disputes as to their legal rights and obligations towards one another individually and towards the State as representing society as a whole. The provision of such a system for the administration of justice by courts of law and the maintenance of public confidence in it are essential if citizens are to live together in peaceful association with one another;. 'Contempt of Court' is a generic term descriptive of conduct in, relation to particular proceedings in a court of law which tends to undermine that system or to inhibit citizens from availing themselves of it for the settlement of their disputes. Contempt of court may thus take many forms. The due administration of justice requires first that all citizens have unhindered access to the constitutionally established courts of criminal or civil jurisdiction for the determination of disputes as to their legal rights or liabilities; secondly that they should be able to rely on obtaining in the courts the arbitrament of a tribunal which is free from bias against any party and whose decision will be based on those facts only that have been proved in evidence adduced before it in accordance with, the procedure adopted in courts of law, and thirdly that once the dispute has been submitted to a court of law, they should be able to rely on there being no usurpation by any other person of the function of that court to decide it according to law. Conduct which is calculated to prejudice any of these three requirements or to undermine the public confidence that they will not be observed is contempt of court
3. The law of contempt of court) is a body of rules which exists to safeguard another, quite different institution of civilised society. It is the means by which the law vindicates the public interest in due administration of justice i.e. in the resolution of disputes, not by force or by private or public influence, but by independent adjudication in Courts of law according to an objective code. The alternative is anarchy (including that feudalistic anarchy which, results from arrogation to determine disputes by others than those charged by society to do so in impartial arbitrament according to' an objective code).
4. The term 'Contempt of Court' means an interference with the administration of justice and it is unfortunate that the offence should continue to be known by a name which suggests to the modern mind that its essence is a supposed affront to the dignity of the court.Nowadays when sympathy is readily accorded to any one who defies constituted authority the very name of the offence predisposes many people in favour of the alleged offender. Yet the due administration of justice is something which all citizens, whether on the left or the right or in the centre, should be anxious to safeguard.
5. We have drawn for the above consolidated observations on the learned speeches of the Law Lords in a very recent decision of the House of Lords reported as Attorney-General v. Times Newspapers Ltd., (1973) 3 All ER 54.
6. Now, we have set out in extenso the objectionable passage by which, according to the petitioner, the opposite parties committed contempt of this Court This passage unfortunately does create an impression that Jain J. who had only, disposed of the stay application was so much pre-possessed of the merits that it was difficult to conceive that when the matters would be heard by him finally he would be able to take any other view. In bur view, this casts an aspersion on the learned Judge on his impartiality and judicial bearing and is likely to shake public confidence in the administration of justice at his hands.
7. According to Rule 54 of the Rajasthan High Court Rules, 1952, it is the privilege of Hon'ble the Chief Justice to constitute Single or Division Benches from time to time and to allot business (cases) to them and the Judges of the Court shall sit to hear cases according to the arrangement made by Hon'ble the Chief Justice. Rule 55 provides for the type of cases that shall 'ordinarily be heard and disposed of by a Judge sitting singly. The writ petitions that Jain J. was hearing were covered by Rule 55 of the Rules.
8. In our humble view, once a case goes before a Bench according to the allotment of business made by Hon'ble the Chief Justice and thereafter the Bench is seized of the case then, we are afraid, the Hon'ble the Chief Justice has no power to withdraw that case from that Bench and to allot it to another Bench. It will be for that Bench who is seized of the case to think for itself whether it would like to hear that particular case or not. It is only when such Bench releases that case that Hon'ble the Chief Justice would be able to allot it to another Bench, but not otherwise. The Rules make no provision for transfer of such a case from one Bench to another, as we find in Section 24 of Civil Procedure Code for Subordinate Courts. When a Bench is seized of a case it is dealing with the case as the High Court and the judgment pronounced by that Bench isthe judgment of the High Court and in the absence of any provision to enable Hon'ble the Chief Justice to withdraw such a case from a Bench we cannot hold that such a power exists in Hon'ble the 'Chief Justice. In the circumstances when Jain J. had already fixed 9-7-73 for the hearing of these cases and such type of cases were being normally dealt with by Jain J. at the relevant time the opposite parties had no justification whatsoever for approaching Hon'ble the Chief Justice, only four days before the hearing, to constitute another Bench for the hearing of these cases. If the opposite parties felt that the cases were of great importance then they should have made a move before Jain J. himself so that, if the learned Judge were satisfied of the sufficient importance of the cases he would have himself made a reference to a larger Bench and then Hon'ble the Chief Justice could have constituted a larger Bench.
9. We may here refer to some of the decided cases. In re Sham Lal, AIR 1932 Lah 502 (FB), a Full Bench of the Lahore High Court had to consider a case where a Senior Advocate of that Court had made the following submission:--
'(a)' I stated that I have been further instructed by my client Subhdev Raj to state that he wanted to apply to (the Chief Justice for the reconstitution of the Bench and that he did not want his case to be heard by the present Bench.
(b) I meant no disrespect or insult to the learned Judges constituting the Bench.
(c) The following circumstances under which I made this statement in question would go to show that I never meant to be disrespectful to the Court and want ed to convey a client's request, there being no other way open to him to do so.
(d) It will be clear from the facts stated above that the statement was made by me in the performance of my duty as a counsel to my client and there was no intention on my part to offer any insult to the Court. I believe that a litigant has a right to apply to the Chief Justice for the reconstitution of a Bench and has also got a right to submit that his case may not be heard by a particular Bench.' The learned Judges of the Full Bench observed that there would be no doubt that the words used by the learned counsel (Shri Sham Lal) were capable of being construed as a reflection on the integrity of the Court The learned Judges further emphasised that belief of the counsel was unwarranted and further that no litigant was entitled to have any say in the selection of the Judges who are to constitute any Bench.
10. In M. Y. Shareef v. Judges of Nagpur High Court, ALB, 1955 SC 19their Lordships of the Supreme Court observed that where counsel had signed certain applications or pleadings which were contemptuous without reasonably satisfying themselves about the prima facie existence of adequate grounds with a view to prevent or delay the course of justice were guilty of contempt of court and it was no duty of a counsel to his client to take any interest in such applications. Their Lordships went on to say that the members of the Bar, however, big or learned cannot be allowed to scandalize the Judges or to divert the course of justice by attempting to take a case out from one Bench to another Bench of the Court when they find that the Bench is expressing opinions seemingly adverse to their clients,
10. We are, however, happy to note that both the opposite parties have tendered unqualified and unconditional apology for the application that they had under a wrong belief moved before Hon'ble the Chief Justice. We are satisfied of their bona fides and that there was no improper intention on their part to lower the dignity of the High Court.
11. Consequently we hereby discharge the notices and close the chapter We discharge the notice issued to Shri Mangal Behari as well, as he had not signed the objectionable application.