XXXIX, Rule 2-A, C.P.C. In some of the applications, the amendment was allowed whereas in some, the orders therein were not passed. The applications for taking action for contempt were disposed of assuming that they were not only under Section 12 of the Act, but were also the applications under Article 215 of the Constitution as well as under Order XXXIX, Rule 2A, C.P.C. The learned single Judge, by a common order dated Feb. 7, 1983, dismissed the applications holding that the proceedings have been initiated beyond the period of limitation. Aggrieved, these appeals have been filed as aforesaid.
3. It was contended that the view taken by the learned single Judge is erroneous as under Article 215 of the Constitution, the High Court, being a court of record has all the powers of such a Court, inclusive of the power to punish for contempt and, therefore, limitation provided under Section 20 of the Act cannot operate as a bar. In other words, it was submitted that the High Court has inherent powers to punish for its contempt. Learned Government Advocate further urged that Section 22 of the Act makes it clear that the Act merely codifies the existing law, relating to contempt of court in contempt matters and the High Court, in exercise of its powers under Article 215, can punish for the contempt. It was, thus, submitted that the applications for contempt have been wrongly dismissed on the ground of limitation. We proceed to examine this contention.
4. Section 20 of the Act reads as under:
20. Limitations for actions for contempt -
No court shall initiate any proceedings for contempt, either on its own motion or otherwise after the expiry of a period of one year from the date on which the contempt is alleged to have been committed.
This section lays down the period of limitation for initiating the proceedings for contempt. It is clear from this section that the period is to be counted from the date when the court initiates the proceedings for contempt either suo motu or otherwise.
5. The expression 'initiate any proceedings' was considered in Baradakanta v. Misra C.J., Orissa H.C. : 1975CriLJ1 wherein, it was observe in para 7, as follows:-
The motion or reference is only for the purpose of drawing the attention of the Court to the contempt alleged to have been committed and it is for the Court, on a consideration of such motion or reference to decide, in exercise of its discretion whether or not to initiate a proceeding for contempt. The Court may decline to take connizance and to initiate a, proceeding for contempt either because in its opinion no contempt prima facie appears to have been committed or because, even if there is prima facie contempt, it is not a fit case in which action should be taken against the alleged contemner. The exercise of contempt jurisdiction being a matter entirely between the Court and the alleged contemner, the Court, though moved by motion, or reference may in its discretion, decline to exercise its jurisdiction for contempt. It is only when the Court decides to take action and initiates a proceeding for contempt that it assumes jurisdiction to punish for contempt. The exercise of the jurisdiction to punish for contempt commences with the initiation of a proceeding for contempt, whether suo motu or on a motion or a reference. That is why the terminus a quo for the period of limitation provided in Section 20 is the date when a proceeding for contempt is initiated by the Court.
It is, thus, clear that the initiation means assumption of jurisdiction to proceed for contempt. This decision was noticed in Gulabsingh v. Sri Ramji : AIR1975All366 . In that case, the petitioner brought action for contempt to the notice of the High Court within one month. The High Court did not initiate the proceedings within the limitation of one year. A contention was raised that the petitioner ought not to suffer on account of the mistake of the Court. This was overruled, holding that the petitioner not having any right as such and none of his rights having been prejudiced if the respondent is not punished for contempt, he cannot be heard to say that he should not be allowed to suffer for the mistake of the Court.
6. Section 324 of the Rajasthan High Court Rules and Sections 15, 17 and 18 of the Act came up for examination in State of Rajasthan v. M. R. Mitruka 1978 Raj LW 224 : 1978 Cri LJ 1440. In that case. Gupta, J., speaking for the Division Bench, observed as follows (at pp. 1441-42):
After the coming into force of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971(hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') the procedure to be followed in cases of criminal contempt, as defined in Section 2 of the Act, has been prescribed ' in Section 15. According to the said provision, the Supreme Court or the High Court is empowered to take action in this regard either on its own motion or on a motion made by the Advocate General or any other person with the consent of the Advocate General or on a reference by a subordinate Court. Then under Section 17 of the Act, a notice of every proceeding under Section 15 has to be served personally on the person charged, except otherwise directed by the Court and such notice has to be accompanied by a copy of the motion as also copies of the affidavits, if any, on which such motion is founded, where the proceedings in the case have commenced on a motion. Section 18 of the Act provides that every case of criminal contempt under Section 15 shall be heard and determined by a Bench of not less than 2 Judges. Reading the provisions of Rule 324 of the Rules or this Court together with those of Sections 15, 17 and 18. of the Act, the proper procedure to be followed in the case of criminal contempt appears to be that the matter should be placed before Hon'ble the Chief Justice and if he considers it expedient that profeedings for the criminal contempt should be initiated, then, he should direct that the matter be placed before an appropriate Bench which, after applying its judicial mind to the facts, may take cognisance of the case
In that case G. N. Verma v. Har Govind Dayal : AIR1975All52 and Barada Kanta Mishra v. Registrar, Orissa High Court : 1974CriLJ631 were noticed. It is also clear from State of Rajasthan v. Manohar Ghoghad 1978 Raj LW 186 that the proceedings can only be initiated against the contemner, when the Court orders for issuance of notice. In that case, contempt was committed on April 1, 1974 and July 15, 1974. Proceedings for contempt were initiated on September 25, 1975 by Hon'ble the Chief Justice. Sharma, J.,' as he then was, held that the proceedings for contempt were initiated against the contemners beyond the period of one year from the date on which the contempt was alleged to have been committed. In that view of the matter, the proceedings for contempt were held to be time barred and, therefore, notices were discharged. Though the aforesaid Rajasthan decisions were under Section 15 and the cases before us are under Section 12 of the Act relating to civil contempt, nevertheless, proceedings have to be initiated and they are to be initiated either on its own motion or otherwise. It is the court which initiates the proceedings and the period of limitation under Section 20 of the Act is to be reckoned up to the date of initiation of proceedings for contempt by the Court from the date on which the contempt is alleged to have been committed. Section 20 prescribes period of limitation. According to it, no court shall initiate any proceedings for contempt, either on its own motion or otherwise after the expiry of a period of one year from the date on which the contempt is alleged to have been committed. Section 20 thus, bars initiation of proceedings for contempt by the court after the expiry of one year from the date of commission of contempt.
7. Now, it has to be determined whether power of High Court to punish for contempt is not curtailed under Article 215 of the Constitution,
8. Entry 14 of List III of Schedule VII of the Constitution relates to contempt of Courts. It does not include contempt of the Supreme Court. Entry 14 is in the concurrent list, whereas in relation to the contempt of Supreme Court, the Parliament can enact law under Entry 77 of List I of Schedule VII. The question relating to Article 215 of the Constitution came to be examined in Dr. Janardan Prasad Gupta v. Dr. 0. P. Chakravarty 1975 Cri LJ 163(All) wherein, it was observed as follows (para 6):-
At best, in order to reconcile Articles 129 and 215 with Article 246 and the entries aforesaid what can be said is that Parliament cannot take away the power to punish without a constitutional amendment, but it would be untenable to say that it cannot prescribe the procedure as to how a contempt matter has to be dealt with by the Supreme Court or a High Court. Clause (2) of Article 142 deals with the powers of the Supreme Court to prescribe its procedure. It, however, says that subject to the provisions of any law made in this behalf by Parliament, the Supreme Court shall as respects whole of the Territory of India, have all and every power to make any order for purposes of securing the attendance of any person, the discovery or production of any document, or the investigation or punishment of any contempt of itself. The power of the Supreme Court to prescribe its own procedure for the investigation or punishment of any contempt of itself is there, but that power is subject to the overall power of Parliament to make a law in regard to this procedure. It cannot, therefore, be argued that Section 15 which is procedural militates against Article 215 or Article 142. The moment Parliament makes a law, the rules or procedure made by the Supreme Court shall yield to that legislation. Article 225 says that subject to the provisions of the Constitution and to the provisions of any law of the appropriate Legislature made by virtue of powers conferred on that Legislature under the Constitution, the jurisdiction of and the law administered in any existing High Court...including any power to make rules of court and to regulate the sitting of the Court shall be the same as immediately before the commencement of the Constitution. The power to make rules that exists in every High Court under Article 225, is subject to two conditions, namely that this power cannot be exercised if the Constitution provides otherwise or if a State law does so. It has been seen above that by Entry 14 of List III, Parliament has, the power to legislate about contempt of Court. The language used in these two entries is of wide amplitude and it is well settled that the power to legislate on a subject covered by the entries, includes incidental matters also. When a Legislature gets a power to legislate on a particular subject, it cannot be said that it has no power to legislate as to the procedure or manner in which the particular legislation shall be regulated or implemented. The power to legislate regarding a Court must include the power to regulate the procedure of such a Court. We have no doubt, therefore, in our mind that Parliament had full power to legislate as to what is contempt, as to what can be the kinds of contempt, as to how cognizance of a contempt can be taken and as to the manner in which such an action should be heard and disposed of. It was argued by the learned Counsel that Section 15 is a meaningless section; but, we do not think that it is so. There is clear public policy behind its enactment.' It was rightly not disputed before us that the period of limitation is a matter relating to procedure and not to regulate the exercise of power. The power to punish for contempt under Article 215 of the Constitution is not taken away, but that power is required to be exercised within the time prescribed under Section 20 of the Act and as such even if, the applications are considered to be under Article 215 of the Constitution, still, for the purpose of limitation, they will be governed by Section 20 of the Act and in this view of the matter also, the applications for taking action of the contempt were barred by limitation.
9. The learned Government Advocate invited our attention to Vegnanarayaniah in the matter of (1974) 1 Mad LJ 155 : AIR 1974 Mad 313. In para 6 of the report, it is observed:
Article 215 of the Constitution says that every High Court shall be a Court of record and shall have all the powers of a Court including the power to punish for contempt of itself. This is only in recognition of the inherent powers of the High Court as a Court of record to punish for contempt of itself. No limitation has been imposed in this Article that in cases of civil contempts the Court cannot take action suo motu. It is easy to conceive of a case where no party may care to come forward to move the Court for initiating proceedings for contempt, but where the Court may consider it necessary and expedient to initiate action suo motu. It is obviously necessary in such eases that the Court should have such a power.
From the aforesaid observations it is clear that it is of no assistance to the learned Government Advocate.
10. Section 70, I.P.C., Section 5 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952, Section 25 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 and Article 215 of the Constitution came up for consideration in R. L. Kapur v. State of Tamil Nadu 0065/1972 : 1972CriLJ643 . It was observed (para 5):
The question is, does the power of the High Court of Madras to punish contempt of itself arise under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952, so that under Section 25 of the General Clauses Act, 1897, Sees, 63 to 70 of the Penal Code and the relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal procedure would apply The answer to such a question is furnished by Article 215 of the Constitution and the provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952 themselves. Article 215 declares that every High Court shall be a court of record and shall have all powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of itself. Whether Article 215 declares the power of the High Court already existing in it by reason of its being a court, of record, or whether the Article confers the power as inherent in a court of record, the jurisdiction is a special one, not arising or derived from the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952, and, therefore, not within the purview of either the Penal Code or the Code of Criminal Procedure. Such a position is also clear from the provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952. Section 3 of that Act provides that every High Court shall have and exercise the same jurisdiction, powers and authority in accordance with the same procedure and practice to respect of contempt of courts subordinate to it as it has and exercises in respect of contempts of itself. The only limitation to the power is as provided by Sub-section (2), that it shall not take cognizance of a contempt committed in respect of a court subordinate to it where such contempt is an offence punishable under the Penal Code.
This decision too is of no avail to the learned Government Advocate while examining the question of limitation. Reference was made to Central Bank of India Delhi v. Current Transport Pvt. 1977 Cri Lj NOC 266(Delhi) Full report was made available to us by the learned Government Advocate. In that case on the facts and circumstances, notice was held to be within time under Section 20 of the Act.
11. Sections 18 and 23 of the Act were considered in Court V. Kasturilal . The question involved was whether in view of the provisions contained in Section 18 of the Act, the learned single Judge could initiate proceedings for criminal contempt and issue notice for the same. In that connection, Article 215 of the Constitution was also considered. It was held that a single Judge of the High Court is in no way debarred from initiating proceedings for criminal contempt and Section 18 of the Act presents no impediment to the exercise of this limited power. The question referred to the Full Bench was answered in the affirmative, This decision is beside the point. The authorities relied on by the learned Government Advocate do not help, for, in none of the cases, the question with which we are concerned in these appeals arose.
12. It may be stated that the learned single Judge has also held that the provisions of