1. The respondent, who is a pleader, second grade, practising at Theog, within the jurisdiction of this Court, was convicted by the Magistrate second class, Theog (Sri Chattar Singh), of an offence under Section 451, I. P. C., on 1-7-1955 and released after admonition under Section 562U-A), Criminal P. C.
On 22-7-1955, the respondent sent a post-card to the Magistrate by name, portions of which are reproduced below: 'Aap ne tithi 1-7-1955 ko ba muqadma Khabdu banam Bishan Das zer dafa 452/451 men jo faisla men fahmash mulzam jo ek ziizat aur umar rasida ko bila kisi ikhtiar ke ki hai ji-se mulzam ke dil ko bahul thesh pahunchi hai aur beizati bhi hui hai isliye main aap ko notice dwara suchit karta hun ki aap notice prapt hone per pata dewan ki kyun na public men aap ki is kinawar jahalat pasandana khayal ka ishar pamphlet dwara karaya jawe ta ke malaum ho jawe ki Himachal men aise afsaran is azad haqumat men abhi tak maujood hain jin ke karan azad haqumat badnam ho ra hi hai.'
The Magistrate, very properly, forwarded the post-card to the District Magistrate, as, in his opinion, it amounted to contempt. The District Magistrate forwarded the communication to the Registrar of this Court, whereupon notice was issued to the respondent.
2. When this case was called up on the 3rd instant, a written-statement was filed by the respondent, wherein he contended that he was not guilty of any contempt of Court and the postcard in question contained comments which were fair, justified and not calculated to impede the course of justice.
3. The Special Government Advocate for the State argued that the contents of the postcard constituted gross contempt, inasmuch as the Magistrate was accused of being revengeful and foolish and further, he was called upon to show cause why he should not be 'exposed' by means of a pamphlet. Pandit Dhyan Chand for the State argued that these cannot be regarded as fair or justifiable comments made in good faith He also relied upon the following rulings:--(a) 'Bathina Ramakrishna Reddy v. State of Madras', 1952 SC 149 (AIR V 39) (A), where their Lordships pointed out that:
'A libellous reflection upon the conduct of a Judge, in respect of his judicial duties may certainly come under Section 499, Penal Code, and it may, be open to the Judge to take steps against the libeller in the ordinary way for vindication of his character and personal dignity as a Judge, but such libel may or may not amount to contempt of Court, which is something more than mere defamation & is of a different character. What is made punishable in the Indian Penal Code is the offence of defamation as defamation and not as contempt of Court. If the defamation of a subordinate Court amounts to contempt of Court, proceedings can certainly be taken under Section 2, Contempt of Courts Act, quite apart from the fact that other remedy may be open to the aggrieved officer under Section 499, Penal Code.'
(b) The State v. Vikar Ahmad', 1954 Hyd 175 (AIR V 41) (B), where a Division Bench of that High Court observed that:
'Thus where the main object of an article was found to be to scandalise the Chief Justice and tne Judges of the High Court with whose consultation, approval and full support, certain notification were issued and clearly to suggests trial justice cannot be had where justice is being administered thereby shaking the confidence in the public mind about the administration of justice and creating an impression that the Judges in the highest Court in the State act on extraneous considerations:
Held that the article amounted to contempt's of the High Court.'
(c) State of Hyderabad v. C. Natarajan', 1954 Hyd 180 (AIR v 41) (C), where a Division Bench of that High Court indicated that:
'Where the publication of the disparaging statement is calculated to interfere with the duet course of justice or proper administration of law ay such Court, it can be punished summarily as contempt. One is a wrong done to the Judge personally, while the other is a wrong done to the public. It will be an injury to the public, if it tends to create an apprehension in the minds of the people regarding the integrity, ability or fairness, of the Judge or to deter actual and prospective litigants from placing complete reliance, upon the Court's administration of justice, or if it is likely to cause embarrassment in the minds) of the Judge himself in the discharge of his judicial duties.
The High Court must keep in mind the greater interests of the judiciary and public, not so much of the personal affront to individual Judge or Chief Justice and it is the duty of the High Court to see that such attempts are suppressed in the interests of the judiciary.'
(d) 'J. C. Medhi, Registrar, Assam High Court v. Frank Moraes', 1954 Assam 201 (AIR V 41) (D), where a Pull Bench of that High Court observed that:
'Speeches or writings, misrepresenting the proceedings of the Court, so as to scandalise the Court, or any publication which tends to brings into disrepute the decision of the Court and impair the faith of the public in the administration of justice, are undoubtedly cases of contempt. Nothing is more incumbent upon Courts of justice than to preserve their proceedings from beings misrepresented, nor is there anything more pernicious in its consequence than to prejudice the minds of the public against Judges of the Court responsible for dispensing justice.'
4. Learned counsel for the State argued that by writing the post-card in question and by threatening the Magistrate with the issue of pamphlet against him, the respondent wanted to shake the confidence of the public in the administration of justice in this Magistrate's Court.
5. Learned counsel for the respondent, Mr. K. C. Pandit, urged on the other hand that the remarks contained in the post-card do not amount to contempt. He argued that the respondent felt greatly upset by reason of his conviction and believed 'bona fide' that injustice had been caused to him, I was, therefore, requested to infer that he was not guilty of contempt. If respondent felt aggrieved by the Magistrate's order, the law gave him a remedy, i.e., by way of appeal.
The respondent did avail himself of that remedy and was ultimately acquitted by the District Magistrate. This, however, will not make any difference to the position as far as the commission of contempt is concerned. Mr. Pandit then cited--'Brahma Prakash v. State of Uttar Pradesh', 1954 SC 10 (AIR V 41) (E). There, the facts were that six members of the Executive Committee of the District Bar Association of Muzaffarnagar (U.P.) passed certain resolutions to the effect that two judicial officers were thoroughly incompetent, did not inspire confidence in their work ..........
Copies of the resolutions were sent, inter alia, to the Hon'ble Premier, Commissioner iand District Magistrate. The matter was brought to the notice of the High Court by the Commissioner. It was held by the High Court of Allahabad that the action of the members of the Bar Association was likely to bring the Magistrates into contempt and lower their authority.
In view, however, of the apology tendered by them, they were merely directed to pay the costs cf the Government Advocate. On an appeal being taken to the Supreme Court, their Lordships observed that:
'The object of 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.
Cases of contempt, which consists of scandalising the Court itself, are fortunately rare and require to be treated with much discretion. Proceedings for this species of contempt should be used sparingly and always with reference to the administration of justice. If a Judge is defamed in such a way as not to affect administration of Justice, he has the ordinary remedies for defamation, if he should feel impelled to use them.
There are two primary considerations which should weigh with the Court when it is called upon, to exercise the summary powers in cases of contempt committed by 'scandalising' the Court itself. In the first place, the reflection on the conduct or character of a Judge in reference to the discharge of his judicial duties would not be contempt if such reflection is made in the exercise of the right of fair and reasonable criticism, which every citizen possesses, in respect of public acts done in the seat of justice. It is not by stifling criticism that confidence in the Courts can toe created.
A defamatory attack on a Judge may be a libel so far as the Judge! is concerned and would be open to proceed against the libeller in a (SIC) per action, if he so chooses. If, however, the (SIC) lication of the disparaging statement is calcula (SIC) to interfere with the due course of justice or p(SIC) per administration of law by such Court, it can (SIC) punished summarily as contempt.'
The Supreme Court set aside the judgment of the High Court, holding that the contempt, if any, was only of a technical character and after the affidavits on behalf of the appellants had been filed, proceedings against them should have been dropped. The facts of the present case however, are different. Here, as already shown, three weeks after he had been convicted, the respondent sent a post-card to the Magistrate, who had convicted him, calling him vindictive and foolish and further threatening to 'expose' him by means of a pamphlet, unless he showed cause why such a course should not be adopted.
This, in my opinion, cannot be considered fa (SIC) and reasonable criticism. Secondly, there wa (SIC) the threat to publish a pamphlet against the Magistrate and which was calculated to lower the prestige of the Court and diminish the sense of confidence which the public would have in the administration of justice by that Court. In my view, therefore, the respondent did commit contempt of Court by sending the post-card in question to the Magistrate.
6. While arguments were going on, the respondent expressed a desire to add a footnote ta his written-statement and, accordingly, permission was given. He then added the following to his written-statement: 'Chhithi muzkura galti se likhi gayi hai jis ki tehdil se maufi chahata nun aainda aishi chhithi nahin likhunga.'
Mr. Pandit for the respondent assured me-that the respondent is a pleader of long standing and there would be no room for complaint in, future. Deeming the apology to be a sincere one, I am of the view that it can be accepted and the notice issued to the respondent discharged.
7. The learned Government Advocate prayed that the respondent be directed to pay his (Government Advocate's) costs. Ordinarily, an order in such terms would have been passed. Mr. Pandit, however, informed this Court that the respondent is about 57 years of age and has been keeping indifferent health. In connection with these proceedings, he had to come from Theog to Simla more than once.
I hope these proceedings will act as an eye-opener to the respondent and he would realise that he should not have acted in the manner he did. Under these circumstances, I would let parties bear their respective costs of these proceedings.