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C. Hariprasad Vs. G. Vasantha Pai - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContempt of Court
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberContempt Appln. No. 7 of 1964
Judge
Reported inAIR1966Mad136; 1966CriLJ421; (1965)2MLJ559
ActsContempt of Courts Act, 1952 - Sections 3 and 5; Constitution Act, 1950 - Sections 270; Government of India Act, 1935; Original Side Rules, 1956 - Orders 19 and 21; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 - Order 39, Rule 2(3); High Court (Original Side) Rules, 1927 - Order 21
AppellantC. Hariprasad
RespondentG. Vasantha Pai
Cases ReferredR. K. Garg v. S. A. Azad
Excerpt:
contempt of court - application - sections 3 and 5 of contempt of courts act, 1952, section 270 of government of india act, 1935, constitution act, 1950, orders 19 and 21 of original side rules, 1956, order 39 rule 2 (3) of code of civil procedure, 1908 and order 21 of high court (original side) rules, 1927 - rule 1 (a) deals with cases of contempt of subordinate courts and procedure for dealing with them - rule 1 (b) and 1 (c) directly relevant when contempt is of high court - three kinds of contempt - contempt consisting of words or acts obstructing or tending to obstruct administration of justice - contempt involving personal attack on judge of high court - contempt falling within first two categories but committed in face of court - in present case initial scrutiny by chief justice.....ramakrishnan, j. (1) this application was filed by a private party. c. hariprasad, for taking action by this court for contempt under s. 3 of the contempt of courts act, 1952 (central act xxxii of 1952) against sri g. vasantha pai, the respondent herein, an advocate of this court. the application had a somewhat long and chequered history, but owing to certain developments subsequent to the filing of the application, the scope of the enquiry has been narrowed down to a considerable extent, and therefore, we propose to touch briefly on the several points raised in the present proceedings and which have formed the subject-matter of acute controversy between the rival parties. (2) the petitioner hariprasad is the second defendant in c. s. no. 65 of 1964 which was a suit filed by the.....
Judgment:

Ramakrishnan, J.

(1) This application was filed by a private party. C. Hariprasad, for taking action by this Court for contempt under S. 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952 (Central Act XXXII of 1952) against Sri G. Vasantha Pai, the respondent herein, an advocate of this Court. The application had a somewhat long and chequered history, but owing to certain developments subsequent to the filing of the application, the scope of the enquiry has been narrowed down to a considerable extent, and therefore, we propose to touch briefly on the several points raised in the present proceedings and which have formed the subject-matter of acute controversy between the rival parties.

(2) The petitioner Hariprasad is the second defendant in C. S. No. 65 of 1964 which was a suit filed by the Amalgamated Commercial Traders Private Limited. The suit was pending before Sadasivam, J. sitting on the Original Side of this Court. Hariprasad filed I.A. No. 1838 of 1964 praying that the plaintiff's should be directed to offer security for the ultimate costs in the suit. In the affidavit filed in support of the interlocutory application, inter alia, the following allegation was made by Hariprasad:

'In Madras, the company has sold its only valuable property being premises 5, Deenadayalu Street even when a winding up petition C. P. No. 42 of 1960 was pending in this Hon'ble Court, and the sale proceeds have been utilised in one or other of the loan transactions referred to, for the benefit of the Morarkas.

The company has no staff in Madras except an attender now promoted as Assistant, Mr. Harry Kingsley. He is totally ignorant of the affairs of the company; but the company has shifted its registered office to 337, Thambu Chetty Street in a room adjacent to the office of its counsel Mr. G. Vasantha Pai, so that he may be enabled to get affidavits made to his dictation and executed by the said Mr. Harry Kingsley at his orders. The Madras office is practically under the advice and supervision of Mr. Pai and its present almost sole activity is the prosecution of various proceedings against me and the other defendants in the manner aforestated.'

Sri Vasantha Pai construed this as defamatory as well as an untrue statement, deliberately made by Hariprasad actuated by personal malice, and thereupon he sent a notice to Sri V. V. Raghavan and Sri D. R. Sivagannam, counsel who appeared for Hariprasad in the interlocutory application wherein, after extracting the remarks made about him, he stated:

'I intend proceeding against you in a Court of Law in a suit for defamation and also to bring this to the notice of the Madras State Bar Council, unless you unconditionally apologise to me and take steps to have the said paragraph deleted from your client's affidavit WITHIN THREE DAYS FROM TO-DAY.'

The petitioner Hariprasad in his turn, construed this notice as a threat for coercing him and his counsel to withdraw the allegations made by him in the interlocutory application pending before Sadasivam, J. even before that Judge had adjudicated on the application, and therefore, it constituted a direct interference in the course of the administration of justice. Hariprasad went on to allege that the threat had interfered with the peace of his mind, that Sri Vasantha Pai had acquired the reputation of a fighter in sensational cases, besides being a vengeful fighter, that threats from him had therefore extra coercive power, and that timid counsel like those who have appeared for Hariprasad might readily succumb to such threats.

(3) The application was filed originally on 2-11-1964 under Order 19 of the Original Side Rules, in which event it should have come for disposal before the Judge sitting on the Original Side, Sadasivam, J. but the High Court's office returned it stating that it was doubtful if the application would fall under Order 19 of the Original Side Rules, since Sri Vasantha Pai was not a party to the suit in which the contempt was alleged to have been committed. Thereupon the petitioner represented the application stating that he had struck off the reference to Order 19 of the Original Side Rules and prayed that the application might be numbered as one falling under S. 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act. Thereafter, the application seems to have come before a Bench of this Court consisting of one of us (Anantanarayanan J.) and Ramamurthi, J., who passed an order admitting the application on 10-11-1964 after hearing counsel. They also directed the issue of the notice to the respondent returnable by 24-11-1964.

(4) The respondent Sri G. Vasantha Pai filed a counter affidavit on 23-11-1964 and a supplemental affidavit on 30-11-1964 to which the petitioner filed a rejoinder on 2-12-1964. The respondent took the stand that he was acting within his rights in asking the counsel for the petitioner, to delete the objectionable remarks in the affidavit, and that the allegations made were actuated by personal malice against him. The counter affidavit of Sri Vasantha Pai thereafter traversed a very wide ground, containing a gist of several controversial litigations past and present in which he had appeared, and incidentally he added a prayer that the present proceedings might be heard by my learned brother and some other Judge, who would not be affected by the several allegations made in the application, it being implied that Ramamurthi, J., who then sat with may learned brother, was one of the Judges who would thus be affected.

My learned brother Anantanarayanan, J., and Ramamurthi, J. passed separate orders stating that it would not be proper to comply with this request, giving reasons for their conclusion. Thereafter, Sri Vasantha Pai filed a further counter affidavit on 29-1-1965 traversing the rejoinder of the petitioner dated 2-12-1964. The main burden of the claim in this supplemental affidavit was that the petitioner, by certain of his allegations, was endeavouring to prejudice the mind of Ramamurti J., who was one of the Judges who sat in the Bench. Thereafter, the application came up before my learned brother and Natesan, J. For hearing on 29-3-1965. It may be relevant to point out at this stage, that one of the allegations made by Sri Vasantha Pai was regarding certain alleged irregularities in the posting of the application from its inception. According to him, after 24th September 1964, Sri S. Ramachandra Iyer, the former Chief Justice of Madras was not sitting in Court, Subsequently, he tendered his resignation which was accepted by the President of India with effect from 1-11-1964.

The respondent proceeded to allege the there was no Chief Justice e facto for this Court from 24-9-1964, and de jure from 1-11-1964, till the officiating Chief Justice was appointed on 25-11-1964. Therefore, he contended that the proceedings admitting the contempt application, and the order of the former Chief Justice passed after 1-11-1964 directing it to be posted before the Bench consisting of my learned brother and Ramamurthi, J. were all without jurisdiction. Not satisfied with this allegation, Sri Vasantha Pai expressed an apprehension in his counter affidavit that the Ex-Advocate-General, Sri V. K. Thiruvenkatachari had a part to play in bringing pressure on the ministerial officer of the High Court, for posting the application before the aforesaid Bench of this Court, even though he definitely knew that the ministerial officer had no jurisdiction to do so.

(5) This allegation about want of jurisdiction on the Bench that ordered notice to issue on 12-11-1964 was considered by my learned brother and Natesan, J. And orders were passed by them on 12-4-1965 directing the application to be posted again for orders as to the issue of fresh notice to the respondent. The application came up accordingly on 28-4-1965 before my learned brother and Natesan, J. and they directed the issue of fresh notice to the respondent returnable on 28-6-1965. In answer to this notice, Sri Vasantha Pai filed a fresh counter affidavit on 28-6-1965. The gist of the allegation therein is that he was not present personally on 12-4-1965, when the matter was heard, but he was represented by his counsel Sri Govind Swaminadhan. Sri Vasantha Pai thereafter challenged the propriety of the orders passed on 12-4-1965, and the further order passed on 28-4-1965, directing the issue of fresh notice to the respondent, and alleged that such orders would not cure the defect in the admission and posting of the application in November 1964.

Since this Bench is sitting in continuation of the Bench who passed the aforesaid orders on 12-4-1965 and 28-4-1965 after full consideration of all the issues involved, we find no reason to reconsider the earlier orders aforementioned dated 12-4-1965 and 28-4-1965. We proceed therefore on the basis that the defects if any in the constitution of the Bench before whom the application was first posted in November 1964 for admission, and which ordered the issue of notice on 10-11-1964, have to be deemed as remedied, in view of the subsequent orders passed on 12-4-1965 and 28-4-1965.

(6) We proceed now to take up certain preliminary contentions raised by the respondent, whose consideration, in our opinion, will be sufficient to dispose of the matter without going into the further contentions raised by him regarding deliberate malice, which, according to the respondent, formed the motivating factor behind the affidavit of Hariprasad. We will consider these preliminary contentions under two headings.

1. The learned Judge on the Original Side, Sadasivam, J., by an order pronounced on 5-4-1965 deleted the very portion in the affidavit of Hariprasad in I.A. No. 1838 of 1964 in C. S. No. 65 of 1964 to which Sri Vasantha Pai took objection in his notice to the counsel of Hariprasad. Sadasivam, J. after referring to the above allegations in the affidavit of Hariprasad observed that there could be no doubt that several averments made therein were scandalous, that in his opinion they were totally irrelevant either to the application or to the suit, that they were not relied upon by the advocates for the disposal of the applications, that the allegation about Sri Vasantha Pai in the affidavit was scandalous and defamatory, that there was absolutely no necessity to make that allegation in the affidavit, and that it was unfortunate that an affidavit containing such allegations had been filed. Thereafter, the learned Judge directed the offending passages to be expunged from the record.

(7) One of the principal arguments of the respondent, Sri Vasantha Pai, in the present contempt application is that in consequence of the aforesaid order of Sadasivam, J., it should be held that the objectionable remarks attributed to him and which formed the basis of the present contempt application became non est: they should be treated as if they had never existed; thereby the very basis on which the contempt proceedings are initiated disappeared; therefore the application has to be dismissed. We are unable to agree with this contention, for the following reasons. The offence of contempt of Court is a quasi criminal one. There is ample authority for this view, and it is unnecessary for us to quote them here. In our opinion, the expunging of the offending passages by Sadasivam, J. by his order dated 5-4-1965, will have the effect of depriving the party, who made them, of the opportunity of relying on them in the civil proceedings; it will also relieve the opposite party from the need to controvert them in the same civil proceedings.

But, in dealing with the matter as a question involving contempt, what we have to determine is whether by the making of the allegations in the affidavit an obstruction to the course of justice was likely to take place. The offence of contempt being quasi criminal in nature, is to be deemed as completed, the moment the offending remarks have been made, and any subsequent order of Court expunging them will not have the effect of wiping out the wrong done, or the contempt committed. If, in fact, it is proved that the party who made the allegation was in contempt and proceedings have been initiated against him for contempt, they will necessarily have to proceed to their conclusion and, if contempt is proved, the party has to purge himself of the contempt. When once the factum of having been in contempt is established against him, he cannot take shelter behind the fact that the Court in collateral proceedings on the initiative of the opposite party had subsequently deleted the offending passages. In our opinion, such deletion cannot bring the contempt proceedings to an end. They will still require to be considered on their merits. We hold that this point raised by the respondent has no substance.

2. The second plea which Sri Vasantha Pai raised has, in our opinion, greater weight. According to him, the present application was not filed in strict conformity with the rules framed by the High Court under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952 dated 28-9-1956. We have carefully examined the position in regard to this plea, and we proceed to give our findings below. This High Court as a Court of Record inherited the powers of the Crown jurisdiction in England to punish parties, for contempt of itself. The procedure for that purpose was originally provided in Order 21 of the Rules of the High Court (Original Side) 1927 (subsequently revised as order 19 of the Original Side Rules 1956). This High Court later on found that these rules were not quite sufficient for the purpose in view, and issued Standing Orders in P. Dis. No. 566 of 1942. Rule 2 of the Standing Orders, states that all applications for committing a person for contempt of Court whether of the High Court or Courts subordinate to it, not being applications under Order XXI of the Original Side Rules of the High Court, 1927,or under Order XXXIX, Rule 2(3) of the Code of Civil Procedure, shall be dealt with on the Crown Side and filed and numbered as contempt applications. Rule 3 states:

'Every contempt application filed except when the contempt is alleged to have taken place in respect of a Judge of the High Court sitting alone shall be posted before the First Bench for orders as to issue of notice to the respondent and posted after service of notice for final hearing before the same Bench.'

At the same time, the High Court felt it necessary to amend Rule 2 of the Appellate Side Rules by incorporating Rule 2(5) in the following manner:

'(5) Every application for taking action for contempt of Court, except when the contempt is alleged to have taken place in respect of a Judge of the High Court sitting alone.'

The effect of this amendment is that every application for taking action for contempt of Court, except when the contempt is alleged to have taken place in respect of a Judge of the High Court sitting alone, has to come before a Bench of two Judges for disposal.

(8) In 1952, the Contempt of Courts Act (Central Act XXXII of 1952) was passed. Section 5 of the Act gave powers of the widest amplitude to the High Courts to deal with contempt matters by giving it jurisdiction to enquire into or try a contempt of itself or of any Court subordinate to it, whether the contempt is alleged to have been committed within or outside the local limits of its jurisdiction, and whether the person alleged to be guilty of the contempt, is within or outside such limits. This rule appears also to cover the exercise of the inherent powers of the High Court which existed even before that Act, as a Court of Record, to deal with contempt of itself. Section 5 of the Act while preserving that power, widened its scope in the manner indicated by that section, with the result that a High Court can take action for contempt even against a person who is outside its jurisdiction. The rules which this High Court framed in 1956 under the Contempt of Courts Act, purport to regulate proceedings for contempt of subordinate Courts as well as of the High Court, other than proceedings under Order 19 of the Rules of the High Court, Original Side, 1956.

Rule 6 states that subject to these rules, the rules contained in Order 19 of the Rules of the High Court, Original Side, 1927, shall apply as far as may be to all contempt proceedings. The effect of this provision is that the operation of the rules contained in Order 19, will be controlled by the rules framed under the Contempt of Courts Act in 1956. In other words, the rules under Order 19 will apply only where the 1956 rules under the Contempt of Courts Act, do not provide otherwise. Now, we proceed to extract Rules 1, 2 and 3 of the 1956 rules under the Contempt of Courts Act, which will be relevant for our consideration in this case:

'1(a). Cases of contempt of Subordinate Courts referred to the High Court by them, shall first be dealt with in the Administrative Side. They will be placed before the Judge in charge of the district, in which the Subordinate Court making the reference is situated, and the Chief Justice for directions to send the papers to the Advocate-General for taking appropriate action;

(b) When the contempt consists of words or acts obstructing or tending to obstruct the administration of justice or when a Judge or Bench of Judges of the High Court is personally attacked the Judge or Judges may draw up a charge and send it to the Chief Justice. The Chief Justice will send it to the Advocate-General for taking appropriate action;

(c) But when the contempt referred to in the preceding clause is committed in the face of the Court, the contempt being apparent, and the court having full cognisance of the facts, the offender may be forthwith punished by the Judge or Judges of the High Court before whom it is committed.

2. Applications for contempt filed by the Advocate-General or by a party who is aggrieved by the action of the other party in cases in Subordinate Courts shall be presented in the Original Side office and registered and numbered as Contempt Applications;

(3) Every such Contempt Application shall be posted before the First Bench if the contempt alleged is of a subordinate court and before such Bench as the Chief Justice directs if the contempt alleged is in respect of the High Court under Rule 1(b).'

(9) Rule 1(a) deals with cases of contempt of subordinate Courts and the procedure for dealing with them. We are not concerned with that rule in this case. Rules 1(b) and 1(c) are directly relevant when the contempt is of the High Court. They deal with three kinds of contempt: (1) contempt consisting of words or acts obstructing or tending to obstruct the administration of justice; (2) contempt involving a personal attack on the Judge or Judges of the High Court; and (3) contempt falling within categories 1 and 2 above, but committed in the face of the Court, the contempt being apparent, and the Court having full congnisance of the facts.

(10) Rule 1(c) provides that in the case of the last mentioned category (3), the Judge or Judges of the High Court before whom the contempt is committed will have power to punish the offender forthwith. In cases of categories (1) and (2) where the circumstances do not bring a case within category (3), the Judge or Judges, as the case may be, will have to draw up a charge or charges and send it to the Chief Justice, who will then send it to the Advocate-General for taking appropriate action.

(11) In the present case, the alleged contempt attributed to Sri Vasantha Pai was made in a notice which Sri Vasantha Pai sent outside the Court to Sri V. V. Raghavan and D. R. Sivaganam, advocates for Hariprasad. Hariprasad was of the opinion that by that communication an obstruction to the proceedings before a single Judge of this Court Sadasivam, J. was committed. It would amount to an interference with the administration of justice by Sadasivam, J. in the interlocutory application pending before him. The proper course thereafter for Hariprasad or his counsel would be to approach the single Judge, Sadasivam, J., for getting a decision whether the case would fall under Rule 1(b) or 1(c) of the 1956 rules. If Sadasivam, J. was satisfied that the contempt was apparent and was committed in the face of his Court, falling within category (3) above, it was open to him to punish the offender forthwith under Rule 1(c). But, if the learned Judges were to come to the conclusion on the other hand that the contempt fell under categories (1) and (2) mentioned above, then under Rule 1(b), he has to draw up a charge and send it to the Chief Justice.

Thereafter, the further procedure under rule 1(b) will apply. We would also like to point out that the petitioner purports to have filed the present application under S. 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act. The 1956 rules referred to above under the Contempt of Courts Act, will apply therefore for the purpose of the present proceedings. It would, therefore, follow that he is obliged to comply with the procedure which we have just now indicated for dealing with the case. But he seems to have filed this application in the Original Side of this Court, and thereafter it came before a Bench of Judges. This procedure involves non-compliance with the rules we have just now indicated, and the proper procedure was for the single Judge on the Original Side to deal with the initial question whether Rule 1(b) or Rule 1(c) would apply. Sri Vasantha Pai has raised elaborate contentions in his affidavit, that steps of doubtful propriety all actuated by malice against him, undertaken by various interested persons including senior members of the Bar, lay behind the filing of the application, and its being placed before a Bench of two Judges of this High Court, for admission. In view of the conclusion we have reached above, it is unnecessary for us to deal with these further contentions.

(12) Sri Vasantha Pai fortified his argument on this last mentioned contention by referring to Article 21 of the Constitution, that a contempt proceeding will have the effect of depriving the person in contempt of his personal liberty, and, therefore, it is necessary to follow the procedure established by law. He argued that the procedure established by law would be the procedure indicated in the rules framed by the High Court in exercise of its powers under Article 225 of the Constitution, and such rules include the 1956 rules to which we have made reference, framed under the Contempt of Courts Act. He relied upon a decision in Taylor v. Roe, (1893) 68 LT 213 which states that the Court will not condone a direct non-compliance with the rules upon an application affecting the liberty of the subject. He also referred to the decision in Suraj Parkash v. King Emperor , a decision of the Federal Court.

That is a case where the learned Chief Justice has observed that in cases to which S. 270 of the Constitution Act (Government of India Act, 1935) applies, the words of the section require that if proceedings be instituted before sanction under the section is obtained, such proceedings are wholly void and new proceedings must be instituted after the sanction is obtained and that unless this view is strictly observed, the protection intended by the section would be liable to become in practice seriously reduced. Sri Vasantha Pai wants to draw an analogy for the purpose of this case by stressing that the initial scrutiny by the learned Chief Justice and the Advocate-General, which will take place if the provision under clause 1(b) had been correctly followed, is a valuable protection to the party alleged to be in contempt, and proceedings taken without conforming to those requirements should be deemed to be void, and new proceedings should be initiated.

(13) We are of the opinion that Sri Vasantha Pai's plea that the 1956 rules for dealing with the contempt application have not been properly complied with in this case has to be upheld.

(14) A further contention urged by Sri Vasantha Pai is that even assuming for the sake of argument, that the non-compliance with the 1956 rules, will not deprive this Bench of jurisdiction to deal with the case, that is now before us, he must be deemed to be not in contempt. We will now deal with this argument briefly. The basis of the contention put forward by the respondent is that in making the statements objected to, because the statements were false, besides being defamatory, he was acting purely in defence of his honour and reputation, and that in asking the petitioner to delete them under threat of Court proceedings, his paramount intention was not to interfere with the administration of justice. For supporting this claim, he relies on the finding of Sadasivam, J., to which we have made reference. That finding has become conclusive, and we have got to stand by that finding.

(15) The proposition has been stated by the Supreme Court in Pratap Singh v. Gurubaksh Singh, : AIR1962SC1172 thus:

'The action taken in this case against the respondent by way of a proceeding against him could have only one tendency, namely, the tendency to coerce the respondent and force him to withdraw his suit or otherwise not press it. If that be the clear and unmistakable tendency of the proceedings taken against the respondent, then the officials concerned had been guilty of contempt of Court.'

In Rajender v. Uma Prasad, : AIR1935All117 , the Allahabad High Court held that sending threatening notice to defendant in pending suit to withdraw a plea taken by him in the written statement is contempt and that the pleader who sends it himself on behalf of his client is also guilty of contempt. To a similar purport is the decision in Telhara Cotton Ginning Co. Ltd. V. Kashinath where it has been held that where a person addressed a notice to a counsel demanding that certain allegation in the written statement of his client should be withdrawn unconditionally and an apology tendered on pain of legal proceedings being taken against him, the addressing of such a notice was calculated to interfere with and to obstruct or divert the course of justice, and the person was guilty of contempt of Court.

(16) The respondent before us submits that to the broad proposition stated in the above decisions, there are certain exceptions, and he is entitled to rely on them. These exceptions have been discussed and considered in great detail in a decision of the Allahabad High Court reported in Kanta Prasad v. Ram Agyan, ILR (1950) All 530. In that case, a party sent a notice to the opposite party who had filed a criminal complaint against him for criminal breach of trust. In the notice, after setting out the facts of the case as he viewed them, he suggested an amicable settlement according to certain terms offered by him and then concluded by saying that in the event of the opposite party's disapproval of the fair proposal thus made, he should be constrained to proceed against him civilly and criminally. The learned Judge held that sending of such a notice could not be construed as interfering with the course of justice and there would be no contempt. After considering several authorities, they classified the Law on the subject into five categories thus:

'(1) If there is a threat held out against a party to a legal proceeding not to proceed with the proceeding or to drop a plea which he had legitimately taken and the threat is that, if this is not done, then some harm will be caused to that party, either by way of a bodily injury or injury to reputation, or in some other way, the threat constitutes and interference with the administration of justice and is contempt of Court: Smith v. Lakeman, (1856) 26 LJ Ch 305. (2) If the threat is not express, but is implied in the fact of a party instituting a criminal complaint or taking some civil proceeding which puts the former party to loss, there is no interference with the administration of justice because everybody is entitled to take recourse to law--Hrishikesh Sanyal v. A. P. Bagchi : AIR1940All497 and Radhey Lal v. Niranjan Nath : AIR1941All211 If there is a simple demand for payment of damages because of the use of some defamatory expression in a pending proceeding, and the demand is not coupled with a request for the withdrawal of the pending proceeding, or a plea taken therein, the demand for damages does not amount to interference with the administration of justice--Baldeo Sahai v. Shiv Datt Sharma : AIR1940All114 If there is a demand for the withdrawal of certain words or expressions used in a pending proceeding coupled with a threat that action will be taken if the words or expressions used are not withdrawn, then if the words or expressions were scandalous, unnecessary or irrelevant, such a threat does not amount to interference with the administration of justice--Jagannath Prasad v. Ram Chandra, Cri. Misc. No. 15 of 1948 dated 9-2-1949. (5) If the threat is that, unless a certain pending proceeding or plea taken therein is withdrawn, a counter action will be taken to protect one's own interest in the exercise of one's own right in the property or to take recourse to law upon cause of action which has already accrued, or in the vindication of one's own honour, there is no interference with the administration of justice--Webster v. Bakewell Rural District Council, 1916-1 Ch 300.'

The respondent's contention is that the decision of Sadasivam, J., aforesaid to the effect that the words or expressions which he had asked to be deleted were scandalous, unnecessary and irrelevant, would support the propriety of his action in making a demand for their withdrawal under penalty of appropriate proceedings in a court of law.

(17) In stating proposition 4 in the manner extracted above, the Bench of the Allahabad High Court relied on one of their own unreported decisions. We do not have the original decision before us. In our view, the question whether the Court should take action for contempt or not must depend on the circumstances of each case, and there is a discretion to be exercised by the court bearing in mind all the circumstances, including the conduct of the party who has made the application for punishing the respondent for contempt. In dealing with the present case, we cannot ignore the fact that where the petitioner deliberately made certain remarks about the respondent which have been found by Sadasivam, J. in his order, to be unnecessary, irrelevant and defamatory. In such circumstances, it becomes relevant for us to consider whether the respondent was justified in making a demand for the withdrawal of those words or expressions. It appears to us that when the respondent insisted upon the deletion of these remarks, what actuated him was not a desire to interfere with the course of justice or to cause obstruction to it, but to protect himself from baseless and defamatory allegations.

In view of the categoric findings of Sadasivam, J. the allegations did not also lead in fact, to the likelihood of obstructing the course of justice. In view of the above, in our opinion, the respondent cannot be held guilty of contempt of Court. It has been observed by a Bench of the Allahabad High Court, a decision which was referred to before us in this connection, in R. K. Garg v. S. A. Azad, : AIR1957All37 of the report, thus:

'It has also been held that where the intention and effect of a particular writing is not so much to interfere with the course of justice as to afford a reply to certain defamatory allegations made by the other party, the Court should stay its hand and not take any action unless substantial interference with the course of justice is likely'.

Assuming that we have jurisdiction to deal with this case, our finding is that the present is one where the circumstances do not at all require the taking of any action for contempt against the respondent.

(18) For the aforesaid reasons, the application is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.

Anantanarayanan, Offg., C.J.

(19) I agree and have nothing to add.

(20) Application dismissed.


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