Ramendra Mohan Datta, J.
1. This appeal arises out of the judgment and order of Roy Chowdhury Judge dated June 13, 1977 made in an application for contempt of Court.
2. No Rule nisi for contempt was issued. It appears that at the very initial stage on behalf of the contemner an unconditional apology was tendered to Court, for having produced in Court, at the hearing of the matter, a wrong copy of the minutes of the meeting dated 15th January 1977, the language whereof was different from the admittedly correct copy thereof which wag also produced before the Court. Thereafter it was submitted that it was through a bona fide mistake and inadvertence that the incorrect copy was produced before the Court. Such incorrect copy was directed to be kept in the record of this matter.
3. Before the Court below the petitioner moving for contempt submitted that merely stating that it is a mistake would not exonerate the contemnor from being guilty of contempt as they would have utilised the document as a correct copy if it was not detected and brought to the notice of the court below that it was not the correct copy. The learned Judge however took the view that the matter was between the Court and the contemnor and the alleged contemnor having tendered apology before the Court for handing over such an incorrect copy of the minutes, the Court should accept such apology of the contemner who had admitted that he had handed over the incorrect copy and thereby became guilty of the act of contempt. On that basis the learned Judge accepted the unqualified and unconditional apology but also held that the contemner would be liable to pay costs which the learned Judge assessed at 30 gold mohurs and directed the same to be paid to the Advocate on record of the petitioner for contempt. The learned Judge, accordingly, made an order that there will be no order on the application as the apology tendered by the respondent contemner was accepted by the Court. The respondent was directed to pay such costs of 30 Gms. by the day after the following day when the order was made. The learned Judge had it noted that the said order was made without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the parties as to the correctness of the said minutes dated 15th January 1977 of Andhra Steel Corporation Ltd.
4. It is contended by Mr. S.B. Mukharjee appearing for the contemnor that actually his client, the alleged contemnor, expressed sorrow and regret for having produced and for handing over to Court the incorrect copy through mistake and inadvertence. It was expected that on the basis of such expression of sorrow and regret the court would exonera'e the alleged contemnor of his guilt. But instead, after the judgment was delivered it was found that his client has been held guilty of contempt of Court and on that basis his apology has been accepted. When the judgment was delivered it was found that the alleged contemnor was directed to pay costs which was assessed at 30 gold mohurs and thereby the alleged contemnor felt aggrieved and hence preferred this appeal. It is contended that although the matter was argued at length on behalf of both the parties still the learned Judge simply recorded the apology and made the order holding the appellant guilty of contempt of Court. The learned Judge did not consider the other points urged on behalf of the appellant.
5. Mr. S.B. Mukherji on behalf of the appellant contends that the learned Judge acted wholly without jurisdiction and the order made by him was a nullity inasmuch as -
(a) From the statements made in the petition it would appear that the contempt alleged is a criminal contempt and in view of (he provisions of Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 the learned Judge had no jurisdiction to entertain or determine the said petition which was not made in the criminal jurisdiction;
(b) In view of the provisions of Section 15(1)(b) of the said Act of 1971 it was imperative on the part of the petitioner for contempt, to obtain 'he consent of the learned Advocate General before moving the said application. The same not having been obtained the petition was misconceived and the order passed by 'he learned Judge was without jurisdiction.
(c) In view of the provisions of Section 18(1) of the Act of 1971 the learned Judge sitting singly had no jurisdiction to entertain or to determine the said petition inasmuch as the same could only be entertained and determined by a Division Bench of this Court.
6. In our view the points raised by Mr. Mukherjee are of substance and cannot be ignored in a petition for contempt of Court specially when the provisions of the Act of 1971 are bound to be strictly complied with.
7. A point was sought to be taken on behalf of the respondent that the appeal did not lie. But we are satisfied that the appellant, the alleged contemnor herein, can maintain this appeal as a matter of right in view of the provisions of Section 19 of the Act of 1971.
8. In that view of the matter the appeal is bound to succeed and the appeal is, accordingly, allowed and the order of the Court below is set aside and the petition for contempt is dismissed with no order as to costs. The appellant is entitled to the costs of this appeal.
C.K. Banerji, J.
9. I agree.