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Court on Its Own Motion Vs. R.K. Garg - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtHimachal Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1981CriLJ239
AppellantCourt on Its Own Motion
RespondentR.K. Garg
Cases ReferredIn Morris v. Crown Office
Excerpt:
- .....of court, it can be punished as criminal contempt. section 228 gives the remedy to an aggrieved judge. the contempt of court is not personal to the judge. it is a wrong done to the public. the supreme court in bathina rama krishna reddy v. state of madras : 1952crilj832 quoted with approval the following observations of chief justice willmot in rex v. davies 30 at p. 40-41.attacks upon the judges excite in the minds of the people a general dissatisfaction with all judicial determinations...and whenever man's allegiance to the laws is so fundamentally shaken it is the most fatal and dangerous obstruction of justice and in my opinion calls out for a more rapid and immediate redress than any other obstruction whatsoever; not for the sake of the judges as private individuals but because.....
Judgment:

V.D. Misra, C.J.

1. There is a court of Senior Sub Judge-cum-Chief Judicial Magistrate at Solan. It is presided over by Shri Kuldip Chand Sud (referred to as the Judge). On June 18. 1980 he was holding his court as usual. One of the cases fixed for that day was rent petition No. 18/2 of 1980, Jagan Nath v. Khushi Ram. The petitioner was represented by R.K. Garg, Advocate. When the case was taken up for hearing by the Senior Sub-Judge, he noticed that the petitioner had failed to file the process fee and so the summons were not issued for the respondent. The respondent was not, therefore, served. He was not present in the court. The Judge proceeded to dismiss, the petition under Order 9. Rule 2 of the Civil P.C.

2. Now there was nothing wrong with the Judge dismissing the petition. But what happened thereafter was shocking indeed. The present respondent hurled his shoe at the Judge. It hit the Judge on his left shoulder and landed on the dais. The Judge directed his orderly to take the respondent in custody but the latter slipped away. The Judge was proceeding under Section 228, Indian Penal Code, read with Section 345 of the Cr. P.C. The Judge issued a warrant of arrest of the respondent so that he could be tried that day. This could not be served and so the proceedings came to an end.

3. The Judge made a reference to this Court under Sub-section (2) of Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 (referred to as the Act). We decided to take action and duly issued notice to the respondent along with a copy of the reference.

4. The respondent does not deny hurling his shoe at the Judge. But he pleads provocation and, if we may put it in our own words, irresistible impulse. We may now notice his allegations resulting in the incident.

5. He has this to say. On the previous date of hearing (27th May) he was directed by the Judge to file a fresh process fee 'with complete address of Shri Khushi Ram'. On the date of incident he informed the Judge that he could not do the needful since 'Shri Khushi Ram had been admitted to some hospital wherefrom he had left leaving no address and that...the residence of Shri Khushi Ram was lying locked.' The Judge said that he was taking action under Order 9, Rule 2. Civil P.C. The respondent told him that the latter should record his statement about his failure to file the process fee and furnish the new address. The Judge refused to record the statement. The respondent insisted. The Judge is stated to have then remarked: 'You rascal, I will set you right'. The respondent protested. But the Judge said: 'I repeat what I said'. What happened thereafter be better described in his own words:

The answering respondent being a respectable member of the Bar as he is. and being an Officer of the Court inasmuch as the learned Presiding Officer (the contemner ?) felt highly injured, humiliated and insulted at the hands of the Presiding Officer without any rhyme or reason or provocation from his side, lost complete control over himself and in extreme heat of moment and passion being very high his hand fell on his shoe and was thrown towards the dias. Many people were present in the court at the time....

When the incidence happened, the silence prevailed. The answering respondent took off his coat and tie and addressing the Court said 'An unfortunate incident has happened. Do you want to take any action against me. I surrender'. On this the learned complainant remarked: 'You scoundrel get out of my court'. The respondent thereafter left the court room....

(emphasis supplied)

6. We have the comments of the Judge about respondent's allegations. The Judge denies these completely. We have no reason to disbelieve the Judge. The respondent is belied by the record of the case (Rent Petition No. 18/2 of 1980) which is before us. We have seen the order of the court dated 28-5-1980. It reads: 'Respondent not served. He be summoned again 'for 18-6-1980. P. Fee be filed'. There is no mention of the alleged direction for furnishing complete address of Khushi Ram respondent. There is nothing on record to show that the address already given was not complete or the process server had, on earlier occasion, reported lack of complete address. The Judge had passed a routine order. In case the Judge wanted complete address of Khushi Ram he would have said so in his aforementioned order. We are satisfied that the Judge had given no such direction. Thus the very foundation of the respondent's story is knocked out. There was, therefore, no occasion for the Judge to call names. Evidently the respondent could not stand losing the case and intentionally hurled his shoe.

7. Before proceeding further we may deal with the objection raised by Shri Bhagirath Das, learned Counsel for the respondent. It is contended that Section 10 of the Act bars the jurisdiction of this Court to take cognizance of the present contempt since it amounts to an offence punishable under the Indian Penal Code. Support is sought 'from the fact that the Judge had in fact started proceedings under Section 228 of the I.P.C. and had even issued a warrant of arrest to try the respondent for that offence.

8. We may now read Section 10.

10. Every High Court shall have and exercise the same jurisdiction, powers and authority, in accordance with the same procedure and practice, in respect of contempts of courts subordinate to it as it has and exercises in respect of contempts of itself:

Provided that no High Court shall take cognizance of a contempt alleged to have been committed in respect of a court subordinate to it where such contempt is an offence punishable under the I.P.C.

9. Section 228 of the I.P.C. may also be noticed. It is in the following terms:

228. Whoever intentionally offers any insult, or causes any interruption to any public servant, while such public servant is sitting in any stage of a judicial proceeding, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

10. It is plain that the proviso to Section 10 of the Act bars cognizance only of those cases where acts constitute a contempt of a subordinate court and such contempt is an offence punishable under the I.P.C. If the acts merely amount to an offence punishable under the Penal Code the cognizance will not be barred Bathina Rama Krishna Reddy v. State of Madras : 1952CriLJ832 . The essential ingredients of an offence under Section 228 are: (i) intention, (ii) insult or interruption to a public servant, and (iii) the public servant must be sitting in any stage of a judicial proceeding. But if the acts complained of amount to something more, that is contempt, then the person can be tried for contempt as well as for an offence under Section 228 of the I.P.C.

11. Now. criminal contempt has been defined by Clause (c) of Section 2 of the Act. It reads:

(c) 'criminal contempt' means the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which-

(i) scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court; or

(ii) prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or

(iii) interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner;

12. What is punishable under Section 228 is intentional insult or interruption but not contempt of court. If the act complained of in addition to insulting a Judge also, scandalises the court or lowers the authority of court, it can be punished as criminal contempt. Section 228 gives the remedy to an aggrieved Judge. The contempt of court is not personal to the Judge. It is a wrong done to the public. The Supreme Court in Bathina Rama Krishna Reddy v. State of Madras : 1952CriLJ832 quoted with approval the following observations of Chief Justice Willmot in Rex v. Davies 30 at p. 40-41.

attacks upon the judges excite in the minds of the people a general dissatisfaction with all judicial determinations...and whenever man's allegiance to the laws is so fundamentally shaken it is the most fatal and dangerous obstruction of justice and in my opinion calls out for a more rapid and immediate redress than any other obstruction whatsoever; not for the sake of the judges as private individuals but because they are the channels by which the King's justice is conveyed to the people.' The Court also observed : 'The offence of contempt is really a wrong done to the public by weakening the authority and influence of Courts of law which exist for their good.

13. In Brahma Parkash v. State of Uttar Pradesh : 1954CriLJ238 , Mukherjea, J., speaking for the Court, observed:

It would be only repeating what has been said so often by various Judges that the object of the contempt proceedings is not to afford protection to Judges personally 'from imputations to which they may be exposed as individuals; it is intended to be a protection to the public whose interests would be very much affected if by the act or conduct of any party, the authority of the court is lowered and the sense of confidence which people have in the administration of justice by it is weakened.

There are indeed innumerable ways by which attempts can be made to hinder or obstruct the due administration of justice in Courts. One type of interference is found in cases where there is an act or publication which 'amounts to scandilising the court itself - an expression which is 'familiar to English lawyers since the days of Lord Hard-wicke ; vide - In re Read and Huggousou (1742) 2 Atk 469 at p. 471 (B). This scandalising might manifest itself in various ways but, in substance, it is an attack on individual Judges or the Court as a whole with or without reference to particular cases casting unwarranted and defamatory aspersions upon the character or ability of the Judges. Such conduct is punished as contempt for this reason that it tends to create distrust in the popular mind and impair confidence of people in the Courts which are of prime importance to the litigants in the protection of their rights and liberties.

14. In the Advocate General, State of Bihar v. Madhya Pradesh Khair Industries : 1980CriLJ684 it was observed:

The public have an interest, an abiding and a real interest, and a vital stake in the effective and orderly administration of justice, because, unless justice is so administered, there is the peril of all rights and liberties perishing. The Court has the duty of protecting the interest of the public in the due administration of justice and, so. it is entrusted with the power to commit for Contempt of Court, not in order to protect the dignity of the Court against insult or injury as the expression 'Contempt of Court' may seem to suggest, but, to protect and to vindicate the right of the public that the administration of justice shall not be prevented, prejudiced, obstructed or interfered with. 'It is a mode of vindicating the majesty of law, in its active manifestation against obstruction and outrage'. Per Frank Furter, J., in Offutt v. US (1954) 348 US 11.

The law should not be seen to sit by limply, while those who defy it go free and those who seek its protection lose hope'. Per Judge, Curtis - Raleigh quoted in Jennison v. Baker (1972) 1 All ER 997 at p. 1006.

15. In State of Madhya Pradesh v. Revashankar : 1959CriLJ251 , the Court while repelling the contention that an element of insult in the act complained of attracts Section 228, I.P.C. and so the jurisdiction of the High Court to take cognizance of the contempt is ousted by Sub-section (2) of Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952 (which is now the proviso to Section 10 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971) observed:

We are unable to accept this contention as correct. Section 228 deals with an intentional insult to a public servant in certain circumstances. The punishment for the offence is simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees or with both. Our attention has been drawn to the circumstance that under Section 4 of the Act the sentence for contempt of court is more or less the same, namely, simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months. The fine is a little more and may extend to two thousand rupees. Section 4 of the Act contains a proviso that the accused person may be discharged or the punishment awarded may be remitted on apology being made to the satisfaction of the court. We do not, however, think that a similarity of the sentence in the two sections referred to above is a real test. The true test is is the act complained of an offence under Section 228, I.P.C. or is it something more than that If in its true nature and effect, the act complained of is really 'scandalising the court' rather than a mere insult, then it is clear that on the ratio of our decision in Bathina Kamkrishna Reddy's case AIR 1952 SC 149 : 1952 Cri LJ 832 the jurisdiction of the High Court is not ousted by reason of the provision in Section 3(2) of the Act.

16. We thus do not find any force in this objection and reject it.

17. On facts, it is not denied that it is a criminal contempt. It is a criminal contempt of the worst kind. Indeed it is difficult to imagine a more serious contempt of court. We have heard about convicted persons abusing or even throwing a shoe at the Judge. But we have never heard of an Advocate hurting his shoe at the Judge. We have not come across any such reported case. No such case was shown to us. Is this a precursor of things to come And how lightly the incident is dismissed by the respondent - 'his hand fell on his shoe and the same was thrown towards the dias'. Not a word of remorse. No repentance. If his version is to be believed, he challenged the Judge - 'Do you want to take any action against me. I surrender'. And all lies are being told to us. If he said all this the Judge would have been the last person to ask him to get out.

This is evident from the fact and the Judge had ordered his orderly to take the respondent into custody. He had issued a warrant of arrest. If the respondent was available in the Bar room, as he would have us believe, the warrant would have been executed and he would have been produced before the Judge. Admittedly the respondent made an application for anticipatory bail before the Sessions Judge. If he was willing to surrender where was the necessity of moving for anticipatory bail Again, admittedly this application was dismissed by the Sessions Judge because it was argued at 5 p. m. when the court time was over. The Sessions Judge rejected the application on the ground that the warrant had become infructuous since the court time was over and the offence was bailable.

18. We may record that Mr. Bhagirath Das opened his arguments saying: 'Better part of discretion is to ignore it instead of fanning it. It is a tussle between legal profession and Judiciary'. We had told Mr. Bhagirath Das that we were recording what he was saying. Mr. Bhagirath Das said that he meant what he said. To say the least we were shocked at this approach to the case by a senior lawyer of Punjab. He dared us take action. He threw in the whole legal profession against the Judiciary in his imaginary 'tussle'. Where is the tussle? Does the legal profession approve the throwing of a shoe on the Judge by a lawyer on his losing his case We have no doubt whatsoever that this is nothing but a figment of his imagination.

19. Let us not forget that in a civilised society the courts hold a very respectable position. Our Constitution makes the Judiciary an independent wing of the State. It confers on the High Court the power to punish for contempt. Section 10 of the Act empowers every High Court to punish for contempt of courts subordinate to it. This power is necessary to maintain the majesty of courts and to ensure even handed justice to one and all. The day the persons can freely commit contempt of the courts there will be an end to law and order in the society. It is thus our duty to act without fear or favour, affection or ill will at all times. It is our duty to take suitable action when the circumstances so warrant. We will not be found wanting in doing our duty. We must convince everyone that we will not tolerate shoes being hurled at Judges. We will not let anyone strike the law down. We will not let the civilised society disappear. The day the citizens lose faith in the courts there will be a blood bath. The throwing of a shoe by a lawyer - an Officer of the Court - is the beginning of the end of the courts and the law and order. We will not tolerate it.

20. In Morris v. Crown Office (1970) 2 QB 114, Lord Denning observed:.of all the places where law and order must be maintained, it is here in these courts. The course of justice must not be deflected or interfered with. Those who strike at it, strike at the very foundations of our society.

21. Lord Denning in his book 'The Due Process of Law' quotes what Lord Hardwicke said in (The St. James' Evening Post case (1742) 2 Atkins 469 at p. 472):

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.

He then observes:

There is not one stream of justice. There are many streams. Whatever obstructs their courses or muddies the waters of any of those streams is punishable under the single cognomen 'Contempt of Court'.

22. We now come to the question of sentence. We may straightway record that it is not the first time that the respondent has committed contempt of court. He has done it before. On Jan, 12, 1979, in Contempt Petition (Criminal) No. 3 of 1978. the respondent was discharged on his tendering an unqualified apology for having committed contempt of court of Senior Sub-Judge, Solan, presided over by Shri R.K. Mahajan. The relevant part of the judgment of this Court is in the following words:

However, since the respondent Advocate has offered an unconditional apology and has assured the Court that he would care to see that such allegations are not repeated in future against any Presiding Officer of the Court, we find that this be accepted. We, therefore, accept the apology and the assurance given by the respondent and discharge the rule.

Evidently, he has not learnt any lesson. He does not seem to have any respect for the courts. It is but necessary to award a punishment which is deterrent not only to him for future but also to those who may be tempted to repeat his performance. We, therefore, sentence the respondent to simple imprisonment for a term of six months and to a fine of Rs. 200.

23. Before parting with the case, we must record our appreciation of the help given by the learned Advocate-General who was asked to assist us.


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