Skip to content


Sm. Bibhabati Devi and ors. Vs. Kumar Ramendra Narayan Roy and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtKolkata
Decided On
Reported inAIR1939Cal672
AppellantSm. Bibhabati Devi and ors.
RespondentKumar Ramendra Narayan Roy and anr.
Cases ReferredTichborne v. Tichbornej
Excerpt:
- .....of letting it to be known publicly and as widely as possible that comments of this kind on pending proceedings or indeed comments of any kind on pending proceedings will not be tolerated. in order to mark our sense of gravity of this offence, after having taken into careful consideration all that has been urged by mr. janah on behalf of his client, we are of opinion that we must deal with this man in a way which will not only punish him personally but what is even, in a sense of greater importance will also deter other evilly-minded persons from committing an offence of this kind in the future. we, accordingly, direct that nagendra nath das be committed to civil prison for a period of three calendar months. he will be taken into custody by the sheriff. we further direct that the.....
Judgment:

Costello, J.

1. This is an application made on behalf of Bibhabati Debi who is one of the appellants in the appeal now pending before this Court or rather not only pending but proceeding day by day before this Court. The application is also supported by or on behalf of the respondents in the appeal and in effect, therefore, it is a joint application by the principal parties in the appeal We were asked to issue a rule calling upon one Nagendra Nath Das to show cause why he should not be dealt with by the Court for a contempt constituted by or contained in a pamphlet printed in the Bengali language, the title of which rendered into English is 'Fight between the Rani and the Sannyasi (new series).' The pamphlet relates to what is commonly called the Bhowal Raj case and upon the outside page or cover of the pamphlet there appears a portrait of the plaintiff in that case in the dress of the Second Kumar of Bhowal. That portrait is one of the actual exhibits in the case being Ex. 58. The pamphlet is, beyond all question defamatory both of Bibhabati Debi and her brother Satya. I think I should not be overstating the matter to say that it is both disgraceful and dastardly. Our task in adjudicating on this matter is rendered easier from one point of view by the fact that Nagendra Nath Das is not only himself present in Court but is represented by an advocate, Mr. Janah, and Mr. Janah stated at the outset of the hearing that his client pleaded guilty to the charge brought against him in these proceedings. He clearly and frankly admitted on behalf of the respondent that the pamphlet complained of is undoubtedly a contempt of Court. We have therefore not to consider in any detail the contents of this document which may be described as being in the highest degree scurrilous and contemptible. If however, this publication had morely amounted to a libel upon Bibhabati and her brother Satya, it might have been possible to argue that it was not a matter which could be dealt with in proceedings for contempt of Court and that the persons aggrieved ought to be left to pursue the appropriate remedy in another place. But this publication contains statements and inuendoes which undoubtedly transcend the character of a libel only. Mr. Chuckerbutty, to whom we are indebted for his very clear and able argument before us, contended, and in our opinion rightly, that this pamphlet comes within the definition of 'contempt of Court' on three grounds. First of all, it assumes the truth of certain facts which are connected directly or indirectly with the matters under consideration and awaiting decision in the appeal itself. Secondly, the document contains reflections of the gravest possible nature upon the conduct and the character of certain of the persons in the appeal, viz. Bibhabati Debi herself and her brother Satya who, though not technically party, is a person whose name figures very largely throughout the proceedings. Lastly, the pamphlet purports to predict that the appellants will be or are likely to be successful in the appeal and adds the comment in effect that if they are successful, law and justice will be defeated. These are the points put forward by Mr. Chuckerbutty.

2. We have been taken through the pamphlet and we have considered it carefully from the beginning to the end and we have no doubt whatever that the first part of it and the last part of it, that is to say the part which is in a sort of doggerel verse and the part which is in the blank verse tooth contain statements which entirely justify the propositions put forward by Mr. Chuckerbutty. We are of opinion that this matter falls within the ambit of the classic definition of 'contempt of Court' which is contained in the judgment of Lord Hard-wicke (who was then the Lord Chancellor of England) in St. james Evening Post Case: Roach v. Garvan (1742) 2 Atk 469 decided in the year 1742. The passage is this:

There are three different sorts of contempt: one kind of contempt is scandalizing the Court Itself. There may be likewise a contempt of this Court, 1n abusing parties who are concerned in causes here. There may be also a contempt of this Court in prejudicing mankind against persons before the cause is heard.

3. And then follows this pregnant observation:

There cannot be anything of greater consequence than to keep the streams of justice clear and pure, that parties may proceed with safety both to themselves and their characters.

4. Those observations of the learned and noble lord find a place in some of the judgments given in cases of contempt of Court decided subsequently, notably in Tichborne v. Tichbornej (1870) 39 L.J. Ch. 398, where Vice-Chancellor Stuart, after citing the passage to which I have referred, came to the conclusion that by a publication commenting on the position of the claimant in the well known Tichborne v. Tichbornej (1870) 39 L.J. Ch. 398 there had been a contempt of Court. I desire to say that we are not in this present proceeding concerned with the dignity or prestige of the Court itself. The publication of the pamphlet now complained of can have and will have no possible influence upon the proceedings or the decision in the appeal. But what we are concerned with is to take measures to stop as far as possible attacks upon the parties to legal proceedings and to prevent irresponsible and scandalous comments on proceedings pending before a Court of law.

5. Mr. Janah having stated that his client pleaded guilty to having committed a contempt of Court endeavoured to urge in mitigation of the offence that his client is a young man of no great education in that he had only read as far as the seventh standard. It appears, however, that Nagendra Nath Das is not only the printer and publisher of this offending pamphlet, but he is the actual writer of it. The words used are his words. If his ability as a poet or rhymester is not of a very high order that in our opinion is no reason whatever why he should use such ability as he does possess to compose a pamphlet of this character. It was brought to our knowledge by an admission made voluntarily by the respondent that this is not the first time he has indulged in the malpractice of publishing, scurrilous and defamatory pamphlets or, at any rate, commentaries on proceedings pending before a Court. He admitted that he has published a document, apparently more or less similar in character to the one before us, commenting upon a case now pending in a Court at Alipore. The offence with which we are now dealing therefore is not his first offence. Mr. Janah further urged in mitigation that the respondent is a young man. We ascertained that he has reached the age of 30 years and one would have thought that that might be taken to be an age of some discretion and some common, sense when he must have known perfectly well that what he was doing was, to say the least of it, a most improper and risky thing. At the very end of the proceedings Mr. Janah on behalf of his client tendered an apology to the Court and stated that Nagendra Nath Das would give an undertaking to destroy such copies of this production as are still in his possession. We should have appreciated that attitude better, had he also given an undertaking not to repeat an offence of that kind in the future. It is perhaps not without some significance that no written answer to the charge has been put before us and the apology was merely a verbal one given, as I have stated, at a somewhat late stage of the proceedings.

6. We regard this matter in the gravest possible light and we desire to make these proceedings an opportunity of letting it to be known publicly and as widely as possible that comments of this kind on pending proceedings or indeed comments of any kind on pending proceedings will not be tolerated. In order to mark our sense of gravity of this offence, after having taken into careful consideration all that has been urged by Mr. Janah on behalf of his client, we are of opinion that we must deal with this man in a way which will not only punish him personally but what is even, in a sense of greater importance will also deter other evilly-minded persons from committing an offence of this kind in the future. We, accordingly, direct that Nagendra Nath Das be committed to civil prison for a period of three calendar months. He will be taken into custody by the Sheriff. We further direct that the copies of the offending pamphlet be made over to the Sheriff.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //