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NitIn Chakravarti Vs. V.S.C. Bonarjee and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContempt of Court;Constitution
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberMatter No. 492 of 1967
Judge
Reported inAIR1970Cal477,74CWN958
ActsContempt of Courts Act, 1952 - Section 3; ;Bengal Board of Revenue Act, 1913; ;Adaptation of Laws Order, 1950; ;Bengal Board of Revenue (Amendment) Act, 1953 - Section 7; ;Constitution of India - Articles 227 and 254; ;Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) ; ;Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)
AppellantNitIn Chakravarti
RespondentV.S.C. Bonarjee and anr.
Appellant AdvocateNani Kumar Chakraborty, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateAdv. General
Excerpt:
- .....board of revenue hits the power to punish a person for contempt of the board. it appears that the bengal board of revenue act, 1913 was amended. by bengal board of revenue (amendment act) act of 1953. the said act had the assent of the governor on the 19th december, 1953. by section 2 of the said amending act afler section 6 of the bengal board of revenue act, 1913, section 7 was inserted. section 7 of the act reads as follows :--'the board of revenue for west bengal shall have the same powers of dealing with contempt of the board on in respect of any proceeding before the board as it the board were a high court referred to in article 214 of tho constitution of india.'4. mr. nani kuinar chakrabnrty appearing lor the petitioner contended that the amendment is ultra vires of article 254.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Banerjee, J.

1. The Petitioner in this Rule challenges the order passed by the Additional Member, Board of Revenue, West Bengal, whereby the petitioner was asked to show cause why he should not be dealt with for contempt of the Court's order and punished for the same. It appears that it was brought to the notice of the Additional Member, Board of Revenue that a publication at p. 430 of the Bengali Weekly 'Amar Bangla' in its issue dated 13th May, 1965 containing matters in the editorial notes. The alleged offensive words in the publication were as follows :

^^ike caxs jsOgU;w cksMZ-

ife caxs jsOgsU;w cksMZj vfrfj lnL; feLVjfOg ,l- lh- cksuthZ lkgsc lsYl VSDl dfe'kujs jks,j fc:)s vihy 'kqfuckj HkkjikbZvk'ksu--- fdUrq rkgkj inuTtkZnkds lsYl VWDljs nkjksxkj itkZ;s ukekbZ;k vkfuvkNsu--- ljdkj if[[k; mdfy vs O;k[;k nsu r%gk;h veykuk cnus xzg.k djsu- lkgscsj jkods ,[kksu yksds dk tsj fopkj ckyh;k vfHkfgr dfjrs Ns----**

2. As soon as the said show cause notice was issued the petitioner moved this Court and obtained the present Rule.

3. The only point for consideration in this Rule is whether the Bengal. Board of Revenue hits the power to punish a person for contempt of the Board. It appears that the Bengal Board of Revenue Act, 1913 was amended. by Bengal Board of Revenue (Amendment Act) Act of 1953. The said Act had the assent of the Governor on the 19th December, 1953. By Section 2 of the said amending Act afler Section 6 of the Bengal Board of Revenue Act, 1913, Section 7 was inserted. Section 7 of the Act reads as follows :--

'The Board of Revenue for West Bengal shall have the same powers of dealing with contempt of the Board on in respect of any proceeding before the Board as it the Board were a High Court referred to in Article 214 of tho Constitution of India.'

4. Mr. Nani Kuinar Chakrabnrty appearing lor the petitioner contended that the amendment is ultra vires of Article 254 of the Constitution of India. Mr. Chakraborty further submitted that the provision of the amending Act is repugnant to the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952 and as no assent of the President was obtained the Act is ab initio void and ultra vires.

5. Mr. Advocate General appearing for the State, however, submitted that the legislation is not repugnant to the Contempt of Courts Act and that it is not ultra vires as alleged.

6. It is not disputed before me that the assent of the Governor was received, but the law was not reserved for the consideration of the President and no assent of the President was received hi respect of the amending Act. It cannot be disputed that the only provision for the Contempt of Courts Act is enumerated in Entry No. 14, List No. 3, Schedule VII of the Constitution of India. It is faintly argued, however, that (he Board of Revenue not being a Court it cannot be said that the Contempt of Courts Act occupies the field.

7. Under the Bengal Board of Revenue Act of 1913 (Act II of 1913) the Bengal Board of Revenue for the Presidency of the Fort William in Bengal was reconstituted. By Adaptation of Laws Order, 1950 'State of West Bengal' was substituted for the words 'Presidency of Fort William in Bengal' and the word 'Bengal' by 'West Bengal' by paragraph 2 of Article 3 of the Indian Independence (Adaptation of Bengal and Punjab Acts) Order, 1948. The Board was constituted of one Member to be appointed by the State Government by notification in the official gazette. The State Government had the power to appoint by notification a temporary Additional Member and the Additional Member, Board of Revenue was to exercise and perform such powers and duties as the Slate Government may direct. Under Section 6 of the Board of Revenue Act, the Board of Revenue is empowered to review its own orders. The Member, Board of Revenue and the Additional Member so constituted shall have powers to hear re visional applications against orders passed by quasi-judicial tribunals created under the different Acts. By a notification dated 10th August 1966 the State Government invested the Additional Member, Board of Revenue with powers to hear appeals, revisions, reviews and petitions for reference to High Court and other connected mailers under the provisions of the Acts mentioned in the said order. The Acts mentioned in the said order are: Bengal Finance (Sales Tax) Act, 1941, Bengal Motor Spirit (Sales Tax) Act, 1941, Bengal Raw Jute Taxation Act, 1941, West Bengal Sales Tax Act, ]9o4, West Bengal Tax on Entry of Goods in Local Areas Act, 1955, Central Sales Tax Act, 1956, Bihar Sales Tax Act, 1947 and Bengal Sales Tax Act, 1909 (sic). The proceedings under those Acts are all quasi-judicial proceedings and the authorities empowered to hear those proceedings are all tribunals. It has been held in the case reported in : 1967CriLJ1380a , that for the purpose of Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act it is not necessary that the tribunal must be under the hierarchy of the Courts under the Civil Procedure Code or the Criminal Procedure Code but the tribunal must be subordinate to the High Court or, in other words, it was held by the Supreme Court that the subordination for the purpose of Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act meant judicial subordination not subordination under the hierarchy of the Courts under the Civil Procedure Code or the Criminal Procedure Code. It cannot be doubted that on the basis of the principles laid down by the Supreme Court in the aforesaid decision that the Additional Member, Board of Revenue though not a Court under the hierarchy of Courts under the Civil Procedure Code or the Criminal Procedure Code, but is a tribunal and is under the superintendence of this Court under Article 227 of the Constitution of India and the said Tribunal is under the Judicial subordination of this Court under Article 227 of the Constitution. For the purpose of Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act this Court has the power to deal with the matters of contempt in respect of tribunals which come within the purview of the judicial subordination of this Court.

8. Furthermore, the Board of Revenue so constituted and exercising such functions may not strictly be called Courts within the meaning of Court mentioned in Article 227 of the Constitution but it cannot be denied that they are tribunal, and therefore, the High Court has power of superintendence pver the said tribunal.

9. To consider whether the State Government has power to make the amendments as aforesaid we are to consider the scope of Article 254 of the Constitution of India. The provision for legislation in the matter of contempt of courts is provided in the concurrent list (List No. 3, Schedule 7, Item No. 14). It is not disputed before me that the legislation was not reserved for the consideration of the President and no assent of the President was obtained. Article 254 of the Constitution reads as follows :--

'(I) If any provision of a law made by the Legislature of a State is repugnant to any provision of a law made by Parliament which Parliament is competent to enact, or to any provision of any existing law with respect to one of the matters enumerated in the Concurrent List, then, subject to the provisions of Clause (2), the law mads by Parliament, whether passed before or after the law made by the Legislature of such State, or, as the case may be, the existing law, shall prevail and the law made by the Legislature of the State shall, to the extent of the repugnancy, be void.'

10. Article 254(1) makes it clear that when Parliament has enacted a provision enumerated in the Concurrent List, it shall prevail and the law made by the Legislature of the Stale, to that extent of the said provision of the said Legislature, will be void in so far as they are repugnant to the Parliamentary legislation.

11. Article 254(2) provides that if such law has been reserved for consideration of the President and has . received his assent, the law enacted by the State Legislature shall prevail in the State. It appears that the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952 was already enacted by the Central Government. The Board of Revenue (Amendment) -Ait; 1953 also makes provision for the Contempt of the Board. The said power of legislation can only be related to the power given in Item No. 14, Schedule VII, List No. 3 of the Constitution. The Central Government legislation on. the contempt of court is also related to the same item and the said legislation of 1952 did occupy the field when the amending Act of 1953 came into force. The said provision of Section 7 is clearly repugnant to the Contempt of Courts Ad and has also been hit under Article 254 of the Constitution inasmuch as the State Government sought to legislate on matters in which the Central Government has already legislated and the said provision is repugnant to the provision of the Contempt- of Courts Act, 1952 and, therefore, ultra vires and void. The provision of the Contempt of Courts Act and Section 7 of the Board of Revenue (Amendment) Act are clearly matters in the Concurrent List and the latter was enacted in violation of the provisions of Article 254 of thy Constitution ol India and, therefore, it cannot stand.

12. In my view, therefore, Section 7 of the Bengal Board of Revenue Act, 1913 as amended by the Act of 1953 is ultra vires and is void. In that view of the matter the Board of Revenue has no power to issue the show cause notice against the petitioner and it must, therefore, be quashed.

13. In the result the Rule is made absolute and there will be no order as to costs.

14. In my view of course the impugned publication amounts to contempt of the Board prima facie and I wanted the petitioner to be heard and on 1-9-09 he being present in Court tendered unqualified apology for the said publication. I accept the apology and therefore no proceeding is drawn up against the petitioner.


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