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Delhi Judicial Service Association v.

State of Gujarat, (SC), 1991 AIR (SC) 2176

On 25th September, 1989, a horrendous incident took place in the town of Nadiad, District
Kheda in the State of Gujarat , which exhibited the berserk behaviour of Police
undermining the dignity and independence of judiciary. S.R. Sharma, Inspector of Police,
with 25 years of service posted at the Police Station, Nadiad, arrested, assaulted and
handcuffed N.L. Patel, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Nadiad and tied him with a thick rope like
an animal and made a public exhibition of it by sending him in the same condition to the
Hospital for medical examination on an alleged charge of having consumed liquor in breach
of the prohibition law enforced in the State of Gujarat . The Inspector S.R. Sharma got the
Chief Judicial Magistrate photographed in handcuffs with rope tied around his body
alongwith the constables which were published in the news papers all over the country. This
led to tremors in the Bench and the Bar throughout the whole country.

2. The incident undermined the dignity of courts in the country, Judicial Officers, Judges
and Magistrates all over the country were in a state of shock, they felt insecure and
humiliated and it appeared that instead of Rule of Law there was Police Raj in Gujarat . A
number of Bar Associations passed Resolutions and went on strike. The Delhi Judicial
Service Association, the All India Judges Association, Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh, Judicial
Service of Gujarat and many others approached the Apex Court by means of telegrams
and petitions under Article 32 of the Constitution of India for Saving the dignity and honour
of the judiciary. On 29.9.1989, this Court took cognizance of the matter by issuing notices
to the State of Gujarat and other Police Officers. The Court appealed to the Members of
the Bar and Judiciary to resume work to avoid inconvenience to the litigant public.
Subsequently, a number of petitions were filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India
for taking action against the Police Officers and also for quashing the criminal proceedings
initiated by the Police against N.L. Patel, Chief Judicial Magistrate. A number of Bar
Associations, Bar Councils and individuals appeared as interveners condemning the action of
the police and urging the Court for taking action against the Police Officers.

N.L. Patel was posted as Chief Judicial Magistrate at Nadiad in October, 1988. Police
inspector Nadid was annoyed with him, because he made complaints regarding the
uncooperative attitude of the police with the courts. There was hostility bet the CJM and the
police of Nadiad on various occasions. Patel was invited by the Sharma to the police station
to see the papers of a case. What happened on the night of 25.9.1989, bears contradictory
testimony of both the parties. Acc to patel, when he arrived in the Chamber of Sharma in
the Police Station, he was forced to consume liquor and on his refusal he was assaulted,
handcuffed and tied with rope by Sharma, and some other constables. It is further alleged
that Patal was sent to Hospital for Medical examination under handcuffs where he was made
to sit on a bench in the varanda exposing him to the public gaze. Sharma, Police Inspector
and other Police Officers have disputed these allegations. According to Sharma, Patel
entered his chamber at the Police Station at 8.45 p.m. on 25.9. 1989 in a drunken state,
shouting and abusing him, he caught hold of Sharma and slapped him, since he was violent
he was arrested, handcuffed and sent to Hospital for medical examination. Patel himself
wanted to be photographed while he was handcuffed and tied with ropes, a photographer
was arranged to take his photograph which was published in the newspapers.

Since, there was serious dispute between the parties with regard to the entire incident, the
Court appointed Justice R.M. Sahai senior puisne Judge of the Allahabad High Court (as he
then was) to inquire into the incident and to submit report to the Court. After examining all
te concerned parties, Justice Sahai delivered his report to the SC te copies of which were
also delivered to the concerned parties for filing objections, if any. On behalf of the
contemners it was urged that in the absence of any independent testimony the Commission
was not justified in accepting interested version of the incident as given by the CJM with
regard to his visit to the Police Station and the incident which took place inside the Police
Station. We find no merit in this objection. If Patel had gone on the invitation of Sharma on
Police jeep and not in the manner as alleged by Sharma, Patel could not be drunk and there
appears no reason as to why he would have assaulted Sharma as alleged by the Police. The
circumstances as pointed out by the Commissioner fully justify the findings recorded against
the Police Officers. It is settled law that even in a criminal trial, accused is convicted on
circumstantial evidence in the absence of an eye witness. After going through all the
affidavits and objections, SC no valid ground to reject the well-reasoned findings recorded
by the learned Commissioner.

Issues:

1. The evidence of police officers recorded by the commission cannot be used against them, as it would be
hit by Article 20(3) of the constitution. Article 20(3) of the Constitution declares that no person
accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. In order to avail
the protection of Article 20(3) three conditions must be satisfied. Firstly, the person must be
accused of an offence. Secondly, the element of compulsion to be a witness should be there
and thirdly it must be against himself. All the three ingredients must necessarily exist before
protection of Article 20(3.) is available. If any of these ingredients do not exist, Article 20(3)
cannot be invoked
2. Supreme Court has no jurisdiction or power to indict the Police Officers even if they are
found to be guilty as their conduct does not amount to contempt of this Court. This COurt's
Jurisdiction under Article 129 is confined to the contempt of itself only and it has no
jurisdiction to intict a person for contempt of an inferior court subordinate to the High
Court.

Findings of the court:

1. With regard to first issue, the court held that in the instant case this Court had issued notices
for contempt to Sharma, Police Inspector and other contemners. Mere issue of notice or
pendency of contempt proceedings do not attract Article 20(3) of the Constitution as the
contemners against whom notices were issued were not accused of any offence. A criminal
contempt is punishable by the superior courts by fine or imprisonment, but it has many
characteristics which distinguishes it from ordinary offence. An offence under the criminal
jurisdiction is tried by a Magistrate or a Judge and the procedure of trial is regulated by
the' Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 which provides as elaborate procedure for flaming of
charges, recording of evidence, cross-examination, argument and the judgment. But'
charge of contempt is tried on summary process without any fixed procedure as the court
is free to evolve its own procedure consistent with fair play and natural justice. Proceedings
for contempt of Court are not taken in the exercise of original criminal jurisdiction.
Proceedings for contempt of Court are of a peculiar nature; though it may be that in certain
aspects they are quasi criminal, but in any view they are-not exercised as part of the
original criminal jurisdiction of the Court.
2. The rival contentions raise the basic question whether the Supreme Court has inherent
jurisdiction or power to punish for contempt of subordinate or inferior courts under Article
129 of the Constitution and whether the inherent jurisdiction and power of this Court is
restricted by the Act. Article 129 provides that the Supreme Court shall be a court of record
and shall have all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of
itself. Article 215 contains similar provision in respect of High Court. Both the Supreme
Court as well as High Courts are courts of record having powers to punish for contempt
including the power to punish for contempt of itself. The Constitution does not define
"Court of Record". This expression is well recognised in jurisdical world. In Jowitt's
Dictionary of English Law, "Court of Record" is defined as :

"A court whereof the acts and judicial proceedings are enrolled for a
perpetual memorial and testimony, and which has power to fine and imprison
for contempt of its authority."
In India, the courts have followed the English practice in holding that a court of record has
power of summarily punishing contempt of itself as well as of subordinate courts.the court
referred to various English decisions on the point that whether in the absence of any
express provision a Court of Record has inherent power in respect of contempt of
subordinate or inferior courts. Relying upon the decisions, the SC held that The expression
used in Article 129 is not restrictive instead it is extensive in nature. If the Framers of the
Constitution intended that the Supreme Court shall have power to punish for con'tempt of
itself only, there was no necessity for inserting the expression "including the power to
punish for contempt of itself'. The plain language of Article clearly indicates that this Court
as a court of record has power to punish for contempt of itself and also something else
which could fall within the inherent jurisdiction of a court of record. In interpreting the
Constitution, it is not permissible to adopt a construction which would render any
expression superfluous or redundant. The courts ought not accept any such construction.
While construing Article 129, it is not permissible to ignore the significance and impact of
the inclusive power conferred on the Supreme Court. Since, the Supreme Court is designed
by the Constitution as a court of record and as the Founding Fathers were aware that a
superior court of record had inherent power to indict a person for the contempt of itself as
well as of courts inferior to it, the expression "including" was deliberately inserted in the
Article. If Article 129 is susceptible to two interpretations, we would prefer to accept the
interpretation which would preserve the inherent jurisdiction of this Court being the
superior court of record, to safeguard and protect the subordinate judiciary, which forms
the very back bone of administration of justice. The subordinate courts administer justice
at the grass root level, their protection is necessary to preserve the confidence of people in
the efficacy of Courts and to ensure unsullied flow of justice at its base level. Since this
Court has power of judicial superintendence and control over all the courts and Tribunals
functioning in the entire territory of the country, it has a corresponding duty to protect and
safeguard the interest of inferior courts to ensure the flow of the stream of justice in the
courts without any interference or attack from any quarter. The subordinate and inferior
courts do not have adequate power under the law to protect themselves, therefore, it is
necessary that this court should protect them. Under the constitutional scheme this court
has a special role, in the administration of justice and the powers conferred on it under
Articles 32, 136, 14 1 and 142 form part of basic structure of the Constitution. The
amplitude of the power of this Court under these Articles of the Constitution cannot be
curtailed by law made by Central or State Legislature.
The question arises what punishment should be awarded to the contemners found guilty of
contempt. In determining the punishment, the degree and the extent of part played by each
of the contemners has to be kept in mind. Sharma, Police Inspector who was the main actor
in the entire incident and who had planned the entire episode with a view to humiliate the
CJM in the public eye is the main culprit, therefore, he deserves maximum punishment. S.R.
Sharma, the then Police Inspector, Nadiad shall undergo simple imprisonment for a period
of six months and he shall pay fine of Rs.2,000. Other constables were punished acc. To
role played by them.

we consider it necessary to lay down guidelines which should be followed in the case of
arrest and detention of a Judicial Officer. No person whatever his rank, or designation may
be, is, above law and he must face the penal consequences of infraction of criminal law. A
Magistrate, Judge or any other Judicial Officer is liable to criminal prosecution for an
offence like any other citizen but in view of the paramount necessity of preserving the
independence of judiciary and at the same time ensuring that infractions of law are properly
investigated, we think that the following guidelines should be followed.

(A) If a judicial officer is to be arrested for some offence, it should be done under
intimation to the District Judge or the High Court as the case may be.

(B) If facts and circumstances necessitate the immediate arrest of a judicial officer of the
subordinate judiciary, a technical or formal arrest may be effected.

(C) The facts of such arrest should be immediately communicated to the District and
Sessions Judge of the concerned District and the Chief Justice of the High Court.

(D) The Judicial Officer so arrested shall not be taken to a police station, without the prior
order or directions of the District & Sessions Judge of the concerned District, if available.

(E) Immediate facilities shall be provided to the Judicial Officer to communication with his
family members, legal advisers and Judicial Officers, including the District & Sessions
Judge.

(F) No statement of a Judicial Officer who is under arrest be recorded nor any panchnama
be drawn up nor any medical tests be conducted except in the presence of the Legal Adviser
of the Judicial Officer concerned or another Judicial Office of equal or higher rank, it'
available.

(G) There should be no handcuffing of a Judicial Officer. If, however, violent resistance to
arrest is offered or there is imminent need to effect physical arrest in order to avert danger
to life and limb, the person resisting arrest may be over-powered and' handcuffed. In such
case, immediate report shall be made to the District & Sessions Judge concerned and also to
the Chief Justice of the High Court. But the burden would be on the Police to establish
necessity for effecting physical arrest and handcuffing the Judicial Officer and if it be
established that the physical arrest and handcuffing of the Judicial Officer was unjustified,
the Police Officers causing or responsible for such arrest and handcuffing would be guilty of
misconduct and would also be personally liable for compensation and/or damages as may
be summarily determined by the High Court.
Supreme Court Bar Association v. Union of India, (SC), 1998 AIR (SC) 1895

In Re : Vinay Chandra Mishra, (1995) 2 SCC 584, this Court found the contemner, an
advocate, guilty of committing criminal contempt of Court for having interfered with and
"obstructing the course of justice by trying to threaten, overawe and overbear the Court by
using insulting, disrespectful and threatening language". While awarding punishment,
keeping in view the gravity of the contumacious conduct of the contemner, the Court said :

(a) The contemner Vinay Chandra Mishra is hereby sentenced to undergo simple
imprisonment for a period of six weeks. However, in the circumstances of the case, the
sentence will remain suspended for a period of four years and may be activated in case the
contemner is convicted for any other offence of contempt of Court within the said period;
and
(b) The contemner shall stand suspended from practising as an advocate for a period of
three years from today with the consequence that all elective and nominated offices/posts
at present held by him in his capacity as an advocate, shall stand vacated by him forthwith."

Aggrieved by the direction that the "contemner shall stand suspended from practising as an
Advocate for a period of three years" issued by this Court by invoking powers under Articles
129 and 142 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court Bar Association, through its Honorary
Secretary, has filed this petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, seeking the
following relief :

"Issue an appropriate writ, direction, or declaration, declaring that the


disciplinary committees of the Bar Councils set up under the Advocates Act,
1961, alone have exclusive jurisdiction to inquire into and suspend or debar
an advocate from practising law for professional or other misconduct, arising
out of punishment imposed for contempt of Court or otherwise and further
declare that the Supreme Court of India or any High Court in exercise of its
inherent jurisdiction has no such original jurisdiction, power or authority in
that regard, notwithstanding the contrary view held by this Hon'ble Court in
Contempt Petition (Crl.) No. 3 of 1994 dated 10-3-1995."

The only question which we are called upon to decide in this petition is whether the
punishment for established contempt of Court committed by an Advocate can include
punishment to debar the concerned advocate from practice by suspending his licence
(Sanad) for a specified period, in exercise of its powers under Article 129 read with Article
142 of the Constitution of India.

Dealing with this issue, the three Judge Bench in Vinay Chandra Mishra's case (supra),
opined: The jurisdiction to take cognizance of the contempt as well as to award punishment
for it being constitutional, it cannot be controlled by any statute. Neither, therefore, the
Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 nor the Advocates Act, 1961 can be pressed into service to
restrict the said jurisdiction."
Mr. Kapil Sibal, learned senior counsel appearing for the Supreme Court Bar Association,
and Dr. Rajiv Dhawan, senior advocate appearing for the Bar Council of U.P. and Bar
Council of India assailed the correctness of the above findings and submitted that powers
conferred on this Court by Article 142, though very wide in their amplitude, can be
exercised only to "do complete justice in any case or cause pending before it" and since the
issue of 'professional misconduct' is not the subject-matter of "any cause" pending before
this Court while dealing with a case of contempt of Court, it could not make any order either
under Article 142 or 129 to suspend the licence of an advocate contemner, for which
punishment, statutory provisions otherwise exist. According to the learned counsel, a Court
of record under Article 129 of the Constitution does not have any power to suspend the
licerse of a lawyer to practice because that is not a punishment which can be imposed under
its jurisdiction to punish for contempt of Court and that Article 142 of the Constitution
cannot also be pressed into aid to make an order which has the effect of assuming
"jurisdiction" which expressly vests in another statutory body constituted under the
Advocates Act, 1961. The learned Solicitor General submitted that under Article 129 read
with Article 142 of the Constitution, this Court can neither create a "jurisdiction" nor create
a "punishment" not otherwise permitted by law and that since the power to punish an
advocate (for "professional misconduct") by suspending his licence vests exclusively in a
statutory body constituted under the Advocates Act, this Court cannot assume that
jurisdiction under Article 142 or 129 or even under Section 38 of the Advocates Act, 1961.

The suspension of an Advocate from practice and his removal from the State roll of
advocates are both punishments specifically provided for under the Advocates Act, 1961, for
proven "professional misconduct" of an advocate. While exercising its contempt jurisdiction
under Article 129, the only causeor matter before this Court is regarding commission of
Contempt of Court. There is no cause of professional misconduct, properly so called,
pending before the Court. This Court, therefore, in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article
129 cannot take over the jurisdiction of the disciplinary committee of the Bar Council of the
State or the Bar Council of India to punish an advocate by suspending his licence, which
punishment can only be imposed after a finding of 'professional misconduct' is recorded in
the manner prescribed under the Advocates Act and the Rules framed thereunder.

The contempt of Court is a special jurisdiction to be exercised sparingly and with caution,
whenever an act adversely affects the administration of justice or which tends to impede its
course or tends to shake public confidence in the judicial institutions.

The power of the Supreme Court to punish for contempt of Court, though quite wide, is yet
limited and cannot be expanded to include the power to determine whether an advocate is
also guilty of "professional misconduct" in a summary manner, giving a go bye to the
procedure prescribed under the Advocates Act. The power to do complete justice under
Article 142 is in a way, corrective power, which gives preference to equity over law but it
cannot be used to deprive a professional lawyer of the due process contained in the
Advocates Act, 1961 by suspending his licence to practice in a summary manner, while
dealing with a case of contempt of Court.

In a given case, an advocate found guilty of committing contempt of Court may


also be guilty of committing "professional misconduct", depending upon the
gravity or nature of his contumacious conduct, but the two jurisdictions are
separate and distinct and exercisable by different forums by following separate
and distinct procedures. The power to punish an Advocate, by suspending his
licence or by removal of his name from the roll of the State Bar Council, for proven
professional misconduct, vests exclusively in the statutory authorities created
under the Advocates Act, 1961, while the jurisdiction to punish him for committing
contempt of Court vests exclusively in the Courts.

After the coming into force of the Advocates Act, 1961, exclusive power for
punishing an advocate for "professional misconduct" has been conferred on the
concerned State Bar Council and the Bar Council of India. That Act contains a
detailed and complete mechanism for suspending or revoking the licence of an
advocate for his 'professional misconduct'. Since, the suspension or revocation of
licence of an advocate has not only civil consequences but also penal
consequences, the punishment being in the nature of penalty, the provisions have
to be strictly construed. Punishment by way of suspending the licence of an
advocate can only be imposed by the competent statutory body after the charge is
established against the Advocate in a manner prescribed by the Act and the Rules
framed thereunder.

Thus, to conclude we are of the opinion that this Court cannot in exercise of its
jurisdiction under Article 142 read with Article 129 of the Constitution, while
punishing a contemner for committing contempt of Court, also impose a
punishment of suspending his licence to practice, where the contemner happens to
be an Advocate. Such a punishment cannot even be imposed by taking recourse to
the appellate powers under Section 38 of the Act while dealing with a case of
contempt of Court (and not an appeal relating to professional misconduct as
such). To that extent, the law laid down in Re : Vinay Chandra Mishra, (1995) 2
SCC 584 is not good law and we overrule it. In a given case it may be possible, for
this Court or the High Court, to prevent the contemner Advocate to appear before
it till he purges himself of the contempt but that is much different from
suspending or revoking his licence or debarring him to practice as an Advocate. In
a case of contemptuous, contumacious, unbecoming or blameworthy conduct of an
Advocate-on-Record, this Court possesses jurisdiction, under the Supreme Court
Rules itself, to withdraw his privilege to practice as an Advocate-on-Record
because that privilege is conferred by this Court and the power to grant the
privilege includes the power to revoke or suspend it. The withdrawal of that
privilege, however, does not amount to suspending or revoking his licence to
practice as an Advocate in other Courts or Tribunals.

We are conscious of the fact that the conduct of the contemner in V. C. Misra's
case was highly contumacious and even atrocious. It was unpardonable. The
contemner therein had abused his professional privileges while practising as an
Advocate. He was holding a very senior position in the Bar Council of India and
was expected to act in a more reasonable way. He did not. These factors appear to
have influenced the Bench in that case to itself punish him by suspending his
licence to practice also while imposing a suspended sentence of imprisonment for
committing contempt of Court but while doing so this Court vested itself with a
jurisdiction where none exists. The position would, have been different had a
reference been made to the Bar Council and the Bar Council did not take any
action against the concerned Advocate. In that event, as already observed, this
Court in exercise of its appellate jurisdiction under Sec- tion 38 of the Act read
with Article 142 of the Constitution of India, might have exercised suo motu
powers and sent for the proceedings from the Bar Council and passed appropriate
orders for punishing the contemner Advocate for professional misconduct after
putting him on notice as required by the proviso to Section 38.

But it could not have done so in the first instance.

In V.C. Mishra's case, the Bench, relied upon its inherent powers under Article
142, to punish him by suspending his licence, without the Bar Council having been
given any opportunity to deal with his case under the Act. We cannot persuade
ourselves to agree with that approach. It must be remembered that wider the
amplitude of its power under Article 142, the greater is the need of care for this
Court to see that the power is used with restraint without pushing back the limits
of the constitution so as to function within the bounds of its own jurisdiction. To
the extent, this Court makes the statutory authorities and other organs of the
State perform their duties in accordance with law, its role is unexceptionable but it
is not permissible for the Court to "take over" the role of the statutory bodies or
other organs of the State and "perform" their functions.

Dr. L.P. Misra v. State of U.P., AIR 1998 SC 3337

Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, Section 14 - Constitution of India, Article 215 -


Contemners (Four Advocates) entered court room, used abusive language and
raised slogans and tried to manhandle two judges - The Judges convicted the
accused same day and sentenced them to imprisonment of one month and fine of
Rs. 1000/- - Order set aside as no opportunity given to contemners - Case sent to
Chief Justice to dispose of contempt proceedings according to law.

ORDER

M.K. Mukherjee, J. - This batch of criminal appeals arise out of an order dated July 15,
1994 in Criminal Misc. Case No. 2058 (C) of 1994 passed by the Division Bench of the
Allahabad High Court, Lucknow Bench at Lucknow, holding the appellants guilty under the
Contempt of Courts Act and awarding a sentence to each one of them of imprisonment for
one month and a fine of Rs. 1,000/- in default of payment of fine to undergo further
imprisonment for fifteen days.

2. We do not deem it necessary at this stage to set out in detail the allegations which led to
the present proceedings. Suffice it to refer to the relevant recitals in the impugned order
relating to the present action.

3. On 15th July, 1994, the Division Bench comprising of Mr. Justice B.M. Lal and Mr. Justice
A.P. Singh commenced its proceeding and in fact some of the cases listed before it were
heard. While hearing Writ Petition No. _____ of 1994 Deoki Nandan Agarwal v.
Commissioner, Faizabad Division and others, Dr. L.P. Misra, Advocate-appellant in Crl.
Appeal No. 483 of 1994 along with his associates entered in the court room raising slogans
and asking the Court to rise and stop functioning. The Court, however, continued to function
whereupon Dr. L.P. Misra along with Shri A.K. Bajpaie, Shri Anand Mohan Srivastava, Shri
Y.C. Pandey and Shri Shamim Ahmed (appellants in connected appeals) came on the dias
and tried to manhandle and in that process Dr. L.P. Misra caught hold of justice A.P. Singh
forcing the court to rise and then used abusive language against Justice B.M. Lal in the
following words :-

"TUM SHALE UTTH JAAO NAHIEN TO JAAN SE MAAR DAALENGE. TUMNE


CHIEF JUSTICE SE KAHA HAI KI LUCKNOW KE JUDGES 5000/- RUPYA LEKAR
STAY GRANT KARTE HAI AUR STAY EXTEND KARTE HAIN AAJ 2 BAJE TAK
AGAR TUM APNA BORIYA BISTAR LEKA YAHAN SE NAHIEN BHAG JAATE HO
TO JUMHE JAAN SE MAAR DALENGE."

In view of an alarming and threatening situation, the Courts was forced to retire and
consequently both the Hon'ble Judges retired to the chamber of Justice B.M. Lal. Dr. L.P.
Misra then entered the chamber and repeated the same uncivilized language and extended
the same threat. It was because of intervention of Shri J.N. Bhalla, Addl. Chief Standing
Counsel, State of U.P. and some members of the staff of the Court who persuaded Dr. L.P.
Misra and others to leave the chamber. After some time, the court reassembled and took a
serious note of contemptuous conduct on the part of the appellants and in exercise of its
power under Article 215 of the Constitution of India passed the following order :-

"This clearly amounts to grossest contempt of the Court, interference in the


administration of justice and insult to the court as it scandalizes the court and
lowers the authority of the Court. Therefore, in our considered opinion, Dr.
L.P. Misra, Sri A.K. Bajpaie, Sri Anand Mohan Srivastava, Sri Y.C. Pandey and
Sri Shamim Ahmad, Advocates, are exfacie guilty of contempt of court and
accordingly in exercise of powers conferred by Article 215 of the Constitution
of India, this Court hereby sentences aforesaid advocates, namely (1) Dr. L.P.
Misra, Advocate, (2) Sri A.K. Bajpaie, Advocate, (3) Sri Anand Mohan
Srivastava, Advocate and (4) Sri Shamim Ahmed, Advocate with
imprisonment for one month and fine of Rs. 1,000/- (Rupees one thousand)
each and in default of payment of fine they shall undergo further
imprisonment for 15 days."

The court further directed the Addl. Registrar of the said Court to take steps forthwith for
execution of this order.

4. It is against this order dated 15th July, 1994 passed by the High Court, that the
appellants have filed these Criminal Appeals under Section 19 of the Contempt of Courts
Act, 1971.

5. At the outset, we make it clear that the above recitals are taken from the impugned order
which are denied by the appellants. In the view which we are inclined to take at this stage,
we have refrained ourselves from going into the merits of the case.

6. Mr. Dwivedi, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the appellant in Crl. Appeal No. 483 of
1994 assailed the impugned order principally on the ground that the court while passing the
said order did not follow the procedure prescribed by law. Counsel urged that the court had
failed to give a reasonable opportunity to the appellants of being heard. Assuming that the
incident as recited in the impugned order had taken place, the court could not have passed
the impugned order on the same day after it reassembled without issuing a show cause
notice or giving an opportunity to the appellants to explain the alleged contemptuous
conduct. The minimal requirement of following the procedure prescribed by law had been
overlooked by the court. In support of his submission, Counsel drew our attention to Section
14 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 as also to the provisions contained in Chapter
XXXV-E of the Allahabad High Court Rules, 1952. Emphasis was laid on Rules 7 and 8 which
read as under :-

"7. When it is alleged or appears to the Court upon its own view that a person
has been guilty of contempt committed in its presence or hearing, the court
may cause such person to be detained in custody, and at any time before the
rising of the Court, on the same day or as early as possible thereafter, shall -
(a) cause him to be informed in writing of the contempt with which he is
charged, and if such person pleads guilty to the charge, his plea shall be
recorded and the Court may in its discretion, convict him thereon,
(b) if such person refuses to plead, or does not plead, or claims to be tried or
the Court does not convict him, on his plea of guilt, afford him an opportunity
to make his defence to the charge, in support of which he may file an affidavit
on the date fixed for his appearance or on such other date as may be fixed by
the court in that behalf,
(c) after taking such evidence as may be necessary or as may be offered by
such person and after hearing him, proceed either forthwith or after the
adjournment, to determine the matter of the charge, and
(d) make such order for punishment or discharge of such person as may be
just.

8. Notwithstanding anything contained in Rule 7, where a person charged with contempt


under rule applies, whether orally or in writing to have the charge against him tried by some
Judge other than the Judge or Judges in whose presence or hearing the offence is alleged to
have been committed, and the court is of opinion that it is practicable to do so and that in
the interests of proper administration of justice the application should be allowed, it shall
cause the matter to be placed, together with a statement of the facts of the case, before the
Chief Justice for such directions as he may think fit to issue as respects the trial thereof."

Counsel urged that the impugned order is totally opposed to the principles of natural justice
and, therefore, unsustainable on this score alone. He, therefore, urged that the impugned
order be quashed and set aside.

7. Learned Counsel appearing for the other appellants adopted the same arguments.

8. We heard learned Solicitor General who was requested to appear and assist the Court.

9. After hearing learned counsel for the parties and after going through the materials placed
on record, we are of the opinion that the Court while passing the impugned under had not
followed the procedure prescribed by law. It is true that the High Court can invoke powers
and jurisdiction vested in it under Article 215 of the Constitution of India but such a
jurisdiction has to be exercised in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law. It is in
these circumstances, the impugned order cannot be sustained.
10. The next question that needs to be considered by us is as to what proper order could be
passed in the circumstances of this case.

11. The incident in question had taken place at Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court.
With a view to avoid embarrassment to the parties and since both the learned Judges
ceased to be the Judges of the Allahabad High Court, it would be in the interest of justice to
transfer the contempt proceedings to the principal seat of the High Court at Allahabad. The
learned Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court is requested to nominate the Bench to
hear and dispose of the above contempt proceedings. It is needless to state that the
procedure prescribed under Chapter XXXV-E of the Allahabad High Court Rules, 1952 will be
followed. We also request the High Court to dispose of the case as early as possible and
preferably within six months from the date of receipt of the copy of this order.

12. For the foregoing conclusions, the Criminal Appeal No. 483 of 1994 and other connected
criminal appeals filed by the condemners are partly allowed. The impugned order dated 15th
July, 1994 passed by the High Court in Criminal Misc. Case No. 2058 (C) of 1994 is set
aside and the proceedings are remitted to the principal seat of the Allahabad High Court,
Allahabad. The Registry is directed to send the copy of this order to the learned Chief
Justice of Allahabad High Court for appropriate action. All the criminal appeals to stand
disposed of accordingly.

Appeals disposed of accordingly.

PROCEDURE APPLICABLE IN CONEMPT PROCEEDINGS

Introduction
It is an established fact that the support of the society is necessary for the survival of all types of
institutions in society. Same is true for the judiciary also. Thus the foundation of sound judicial
system lies in the trust and confidence of the people in its ability to deliver justice fearlessly.
Independent or impartial judiciary is the sine qua non of a healthy society. Therefore, it is
imperative that the judiciary is to be protected from all sorts of evils which may affect the
administration of justice. The quest for conferring society’s support and respect to the judiciary
led to the conferment of ancillary powers in the judiciary to prevent any act which may lead to
disrespect towards the authority of the court and eventually this power developed into law of
contempt of court. Like most of the other constitutional and legal principles, the law of contempt
of court also owes its origin to the common law. In R v. Davison [1] Abott CJ pointed out that it
was utterly impossible that the law could be properly administered where persons charged with
the duty of administration of law had no power to prevent instances of indecorum outpourings in
their own presence.
Contempt Defined
It is indeed a difficult task to confine the word “contempt “within the four walls of a definition
because if some fixed parameters are laid as to the acts or conducts which may or may not
amount to contempt of court, that would restrict the ambit of protection which this jurisdiction
provides to the judicial system. As per Halsbury’s, “any act done or writing published which is
calculated to bring a court or judge into contempt or to lower his authority or to interfere with the
due course of justice or thelawful process of the court is contempt of court [2].
Corpus Juris Secondum defines contempt of court as disobedience to the Court by acting in
opposition to the authority, justice and dignity thereof. It signifies a willful disregard or
disobedience to the court’s order. It also signifies such conduct as tends to bring the authority of
the court and the administration of law into disrespect [3].
Section 2 of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971, instead of defining contempt of court says that,
“contempt of court means civil contempt or criminal contempt.”
Civil Contempt: civil contempt means wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction,
order, writ or other process of a Court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a Court. Inthe
celebrated decision of Attorney General v. Times Newspaper Ltd. [4]. Lord Diplock stated,
“There is an element of public policy in punishing civil contempt, since the administration of
justice would be undermined if the order of any court of law could be disregarded with
impunity.”
Criminal contempt: 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) Scandalizes or tends to scandalize, 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.
A criminal contempt, thus, has been defined as a conduct thatis directed against the dignity and
authority of a court or a judge acting judicially. It is an action obstructing the administration of
justice which tends to bring the court in to disrepute or disrespect. The definition of criminal
contempt is wide enough to include any act of a person that lowers the authority of the court. The
scope of the criminal contempt has-been made very wide so as to empower the court to preserve
the majesty of law which is in turn indispensable for rule of law.
Procedure applicable to proceedings for contempt
Section 14 and 15 of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971 deal with procedure applicable to the
proceedings for contempt of court. Where contempt is committed in the presence of the Supreme
Court or High Court, procedure prescribed in Section 14 has to be followed. In all other cases,
procedure of Section 15 applies. Proceedings under Sections 14 and 15 thus contemplate two
entirely different types of and mutually exclusive procedures.
Section 14 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 reads as under:
Procedure where contempt is in the face of the Supreme Court or a High Court.-
1. When it is alleged, or appears to the Supreme Court or the High Court upon its own view, that
a person has been guilty of contempt committed in its presence or hearing, the Court may cause
such person to be detained in custody, and, at any time before the rising of the Court, on the
same day, or as early as possible thereafter, shall
a) Cause him to be informed in writing of the contempt with which he is charged;
b) Afford him an opportunity to make his defence to the charge;
c) After taking such evidence as may be necessary or as may be offered by such person and after
hearing him, proceed, either forthwith or after adjournment, to determine the matter of the
charge; and
d) Make such order for the punishment or discharge of such person as may be just.
2. Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where a person charged with contempt
under that subsection applies, whether orally or in writing, to have the charge against him tried
by some Judge other than the Judge or Judges in whose presence or hearing the offence is
alleged to have been committed, and the Court is of opinion that it is practicable to do so and that
in the interests of proper administration of justice the application should be allowed, it shall
cause the matter to be placed, together with a statement of the facts of the case, before the Chief
Justice for such directions as he may think fit to issue as respects the trial thereof.
3. Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, in any trial of a person charged with
contempt under subsection (1) which is held, in pursuance of a direction given under sub-section
(2), by a Judge other than the Judge or Judges in whose presence or hearing the offence is
alleged to have been committed, it shall not be necessary for the Judge or Judges in whose
presence or hearing the offence is alleged to have been committed to appear as a witness and the
statement placed before the Chief Justice under sub-section (2) shall be treated as evidence in the
case.
4. Pending the determination of the charge, the Court may direct that a person charged with
contempt under this section shall be detained in such custody as it may specify:
Provided that he shall be released on bail, if a bond for such sum of money as the Court thinks
sufficient is executed with or without sureties conditioned that the person charged shall attend at
the time and place mentioned in the bond and shall continue to so attend until otherwise directed
by the Court:
Provided further that the Court may, if it thinks fit, instead of taking bail from such person,
discharge him on his executing a bond without sureties for his attendance as aforesaid.
Thus, Section 14 of the Contempt of Courts Act contemplates issuance of notice and an
opportunity to the contemnor to answer the charges levelled in the notice. However, sub-section
(2) of Section 14 provides that a person charged with contempt under sub-section (1) can apply
whether orally or in writing to have the charge against him tried by some Judge other than the
Judge or Judges in whose presence or hearing the offence is alleged to have been committed, and
the Court is of the opinion that it is practicable to do so and that in the interest of proper
administration of justice, the request of such person may be allowed. Then, the Judge shall cause
the matter to be placed together with a statement of facts of the case, before the Chief Justice for
such directions as he may think fit to issue in respect of the trial thereof. Subsection (3) provides
that when once the Judges act under sub-section (2) of Section 14, it shall not be necessary for
the Judge or Judges in whose presence or hearing the offence is alleged to have been committed
to appear as a witness. The statement placed before the Chief Justice under sub-section (2) shall
be treated as evidence in the case.
With regard to the requirement of following the summary procedure laid down in Section 14, the
Apex Court in Dr. L. P. Mishra v. State of UP [5], set aside the order of Division Bench of
Allahabad High Court, Lucknow bench at Lucknow as the Bench failed to follow the procedure
prescribed under section 14 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. The Court laid down that
although the high Court can invoke powers and jurisdiction vested in it under Article 215 of the
Constitution of India but such a jurisdiction has to be exercised in accordance with procedure
prescribed by law. The proposition, however, underwent a change in the case of Leila David v.
State of Maharashtra & Ors [6]. The contemnor went to the extent of throwing a footwear at the
Judges in the presence of the learned Solicitor General of India, two learned Additional Solicitor
Generals and a large number of learned counsel and advocates, including the President of the
Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association. Having recorded the said incidents which had
occurred within the sight of the Hon'ble Judges and the other persons present in Court, Dr.
Justice Pasayat held such behaviour to be contemptuous in the face of the Court. Since the
petitioners stood by what they had said and done in Court, His Lordship felt that there was no
need to issue any notice and holding them to be guilty of criminal contempt of the Court,
inflicted a punishment of three months' simple imprisonment on them.
The said course of action did not meet the approval of the other learned Judge, the Hon'ble Mr.
Justice Ashok Kumar Ganguly, who by a separate order, observed that the writ petitioners could
not have been punished for contempt without due compliance with the provisions of Section
14(1) (a)(b)(c) and (d) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. His Lordship was also of the view
that the Court's power under Article 142 was not meant to circumvent the statutory requirements.
His Lordship, accordingly, observed as follows: Therefore, in this view of the matter, I cannot
agree with the view expressed in the order of His Lordship Justice Pasayat, for sending the
alleged contemnors to prison for allegedly committing the contempt in the face of the Court
without following the mandate of the Statute under Section 14. I, therefore, cannot at all agree
with His Lordship's order by which sentence has been imposed. I am of the view that the liberty
of those persons cannot be affected in this manner without proceeding against them under
Section 14 of the Act. In my opinion Section 14 is in consonance with a person's fundamental
right under Article 21.
Having regard to the difference of opinion as to the procedure to be adopted before the
petitioners could be found guilty of contempt of Court and sentenced, the matter was directed to
be placed before Hon'ble The Chief Justice of India and a direction was given that the
contemnors would remain in custody till the matter could be heard by an appropriate Bench.
Accordingly, the Bench was constituted comprising the Hon'ble Mr. Justice B.N. Agrawal, the
Hon'ble Mr. Justice G.S. Singhvi and the Hon'ble Mr. Justice H.L. Dattu. Agreeing with the
procedure adopted by Dr. Justice Pasayat, the Bench did not interfere with the sentence imposed
upon the contemnors.
The Bench observed as under:
Section 14 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, deals with contempt in the face of the Supreme
Court or the High Court. The expression "Contempt in the face of the Supreme Court" has been
interpreted to mean an incident taking place within the sight of the learned Judges and others
present at the time of the incident, who had witnessed such incident. No doubt, Section14
contemplates issuance of notice and an opportunity to the contemnors to answer the charges in
the notice to satisfy the principles of natural justice. However, where an incident of the instant
nature takes place within the presence and sight of the learned Judges, the same amounts to
contempt in the face of the Court and is required to be dealt with at the time of the incident itself.
This is necessary for the dignity and majesty of the Courts to be maintained. When an object,
such as a footwear, is thrown at the Presiding Officer in a Court proceeding, the object is not to
merely scandalize or humiliate the Judge, but to scandalize the institution itself and thereby
lower its dignity in the eyes of the public.
Section 14 provides for the cases when the contempt is committed on the face of the Court. With
respect to other cases, i.e., when the contempt is committed otherwise than on the face of the
Court, procedure has been provided by section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, which is
being reproduced as under:
1) Section 15- Cognizance of criminal contempt in other cases.- (1) In the case of a criminal
contempt, other than a contempt referred to in section 14, the Supreme Court or the High Court
may take action on its own motion or on a motion made by-
A. the Advocate-General, or
B. any other person, with the consent in writing to the Advocate- General, or
C. In relation to the High Court for the Union territory of Delhi, such Law Officer as the Central
Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify in this behalf, or any other
person, with the consent in writing of such Law Officer.
2) In the case of any criminal contempt of a subordinate court, the High Court may take action
on a reference made to it by the subordinate court or on a motion made by the Advocate-General
or, in relation to a Union territory, by such Law Officer as the Central Government may, by
notification in the Official Gazette, specify in this behalf.
3) Every motion or reference made under this section shall specify the contempt of which the
person charged is alleged to be guilty.
4) Explanation.-In this section, the expression “Advocate-General” means-
A. in relation to the Supreme Court, the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General;
B. in relation to the High Court, the Advocate- General of the State or any of the States for which
the High Court has been established;
C. In relation to the Court of a Judicial Commissioner, such Law Officer as the Central
Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify in this behalf.
When the contempt is on the face of the Court, then it is very essential for that Court to follow
the procedure as prescribed in Section 14 of the Act. But for any reason if the concerned Court
does not proceed in accordance with Section 14 of the Act and refers the matter to the Hon'ble
Chief Justice of the High Court informing about the alleged contempt, then in that event, it is
always open and within the powers of the High Court to take suo motu cognizance of the same
and proceed against the alleged contemnor in accordance with the procedure as laid down under
Section 15 of the Act. The High Court can deal with contempt summarily and adopt its own
procedure. All that is required is that the procedure is fair and the contemnor is made aware of
the charge against him and is given a fair and reasonable opportunity to defend himself.
With respect to the procedural requirements laid down in Section 15, when a private person
seeks to file a contempt petition in the Supreme Court or in the High Court, the apex court has in
a number of cases laid down that the requirement of obtaining the consent of Advocate general in
writing is mandatory and in no case it can be dispensed with.
In State of Kerala v. M.S. Mani [7], the Supreme Court observed as under:
The requirement of consent of the Advocate- General/Attorney-General/Solicitor-General where
any person other than the said law officers makes motion in the case of a criminal contempt in a
High Court or Supreme Court, as the case may be, is not a mere formality; it has a salutary
purpose. The said law officers being the highest law officers at the level of the State/Centre as
also the officers of the courts are vitally interested in the purity of the administration of justice
and in preserving the dignity of the courts. They are expected to examine whether the averments
in the proposed motion of a criminal contempt are made vindicating public interest or personal
vendetta and accord or decline consent postulated in the said provision. Further, cases found to
be vexatious, malicious or motivated by personal vendetta and not in public interest will get
filtered at that level. If a motion of criminal contempt in the High Court/Supreme Court is not
accompanied by the written consent of the aforementioned law officers, the very purpose of the
requirement of prior consent will be frustrated. For a valid motion compliance with the
requirements of Section 15 of the Act is mandatory. A motion under Section 15 not in
conformity with the provisions of Section 15, is not maintainable".
The above mentioned decision of the apex court was again
reiterated by the court in Biman Basu v. Kallol Guha Thakurta [8]. In this case, a petition was
filed by a litigant for initiating contempt proceedings against a person for making deliberate and
wilful, derogatory, defamatory and filthy statements against a Judge which constituted contempt
of Court. Petition was held to be not maintainable without written consent of Advocate General
as required under Section 15.
However, in some subsequent cases, the requirement of strict compliance with Section 15 has not
been insisted by the Court in cases where the court uses its powers under Article 129 of the
Constitution [9].
In Rajeshwar Singh v. Subrata Roy Sahara [10], contempt proceedings were initiated against the
respondents for interfering in court monitored investigation and thereby interfering in due
administration of justice by the court. Respondents alleged that contempt proceedings were not
maintainable as consent of Advocate General has not been obtained as required u/s 15 of
Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
Apex Court held that even assuming that there has not been any proper compliance of the
provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, as contended by the learned senior counsels for
the respondents, that would not deter or take away the constitutional powers conferred on this
Court under Article 129 of the Constitution of India to examine, whether, there has been any
attempt by anybody to interfere with an investigation, which is being monitored by this Court.
The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 129 of the Constitution is independent of the
Contempt of Courts Act and the powers conferred under Article 129 of the Constitution cannot
be denuded, restricted or limited by the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. Holding the petition as
perfectly maintainable, the court issued notice to the respondents to show cause why proceedings
be not initiated against them for interfering with the court monitored criminal investigation.
The proposition that the powers of the Supreme Court and the High Courts being the Courts of
Record as embodied under Articles 129 and 215 respectively cannot be restricted and trammeled
by any ordinary legislation including the provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act and their
inherent power is elastic, unfettered and not subjected to any limit has also been upheld by the
High Court of Bombay in Ramesh Jairamdas Jaising v. Bansi Jairamdas Jaising [11].
Reference
1. 106 ER 958 (1821).
2. Halsbury, Law of England, Vol. 8, p.7 (3rd Edn.).
3. Corpus Juris Secondum, Vol. 17, pp. 5 and 6.
4. AIR 1974 AC 273.
5. 1998 (4) Scale 662. This batch of criminal appeals arise out of an order passed by the Division
Bench of the Allahabad High Court, Lucknow Bench at Lucknow, holding the appellants guilty
under the Contempt of Courts Act for committing contempt on the face of the court.
6. AIR 2010 SC 862.
7. 2001(4) R.C.R. (Criminal) 631.
8. AIR 2010 SC 3328.
9. Article 129- The Supreme Court shall be a court of record and shall have all the powers of
such a court including the power to punish for contempt of itself.
10. 2015 (1) SCC (Cri) 329.
11. 2015 (5) Mh.L.J 255