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The Advocate-general Vs. Sri Ramanatha Goenka, Editor, Printer and Publisher of the Indian Express - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContempt of Court
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported in(1942)2MLJ622
AppellantThe Advocate-general
RespondentSri Ramanatha Goenka, Editor, Printer and Publisher of the Indian Express
Excerpt:
- - the prosecution clearly stated that the case was filed as the result of 'correspondence from government' but with the blessings of the magistrate refused to produce the correspondence and the statement had to go untested......told the magistrate that the government was behind the prosecution.we accept the statement in the affidavit filed in support of this application that this passage suggests that there was not and there could not be any proper judicial trial, that the proceedings before the magistrate were an empty formality, that the magistrate had made up his mind to convict the accused even before the trial was over with a view to conform to what he believed to be the wishes of the government. in other words, once the magistrate knew that the government had instituted the prosecution there was bound to be a conviction. it is difficult to imagine a contempt more gross than this. in his affidavit in reply to the one filed in support of the petition the respondent states that he had no intention of.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, C.J.

1. The respondent is the editor, printer and publisher of 'The. Indian Express'. He has been called upon to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt of the Court of the Third Presidency Magistrate, Madras. On the 14th August he was convicted by the Third Presidency Magistrate of having published in his newspaper an obscene advertisement and was sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 100, or in default to undergo simple imprisonment for a week. The respondent had the right to challenge the correctness of the conviction and sentence in an application to this Court but he accepted the decision and consequently no application for revision was filed. On the 16th August, he published a leading article in his newspaper in the course of which he said:

The prosecution clearly stated that the case was filed as the result of ' correspondence from Government' but with the blessings of the Magistrate refused to produce the correspondence and the statement had to go untested. Without meaning any disrespect, we doubt whether in any case where opinions count, any Subordinate Magistrate will give a judgment contrary to what be believes the Government of the day has decided. The fate of this ease was sealed the minute the Police told the Magistrate that the Government was behind the prosecution.

We accept the statement in the affidavit filed in support of this application that this passage suggests that there was not and there could not be any proper judicial trial, that the proceedings before the Magistrate were an empty formality, that the Magistrate had made up his mind to convict the accused even before the trial was over with a view to conform to what he believed to be the wishes of the Government. In other words, once the Magistrate knew that the Government had instituted the prosecution there was bound to be a conviction. It is difficult to imagine a contempt more gross than this. In his affidavit in reply to the one filed in support of the petition the respondent states that he had no intention of committing contempt of Court. His affidavit is merely an attack on Government and the Special Press Adviser whom he suspected of having caused his prosecution to be launched. He expresses no apology for the gross contempt which he has committed. Mr. Sitarama Rao, in his address to the Court, has however supplemented the affidavit by stating that his client does tender an unconditional apology.

2. The matter cannot be allowed to end with the tender of this apology. The contempt is too grave and this Court has a duty to perform in the matter. This Court cannot allow attacks of this nature to be made against the Subordinate Courts of this Province without taking serious action. The respondent will have to be punished and the sole question is, what shall be the punishment. If the apology had not been tendered the only proper course would have been to commit the respondent to prison, but as he has tendered an unqualified apology we will not take this course. The respondent will be directed to pay a fine of Rs. 250 and in default of payment to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of two months. In addition he will pay the costs of these proceedings, which we fix at Rs. 150.


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