Dibakar Satpathy Vs. Hon'ble The Chief
Justice and Judges of High Court  INSC 91 (14 March 1961)
14/03/1961 MUDHOLKAR, J.R.
CITATION: 1961 AIR 1315 1962 SCR (1) 326
Contempt of Court--Circular directing
magistrates to ignore decision of High Court--If amounts to contempt.
The appellant an Under Secretary to the Board
of Revenue, circulated to the District Magistrates, the opinions of the Legal
Remembrance and the Advocate General with an endorsement directing that a
procedure contrary to that indicated by the High Court, be followed "until
the matter is carried to the High Court in some case, so that the confusion
created by the Orissa High Court decision A I.R.
1951 Orissa 40 might be set at rest".
Held, that the appellant was clearly guilty
of contempt of Court. He gave a direction to the Magistrates to ignore the
decision of the High Court even though that was binding on them. This was a
flagrant interference with the administration of justice by courts.
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION Criminal
Appeal No. 2 of 1960.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order dated February 19, 1958, of the Orissa High Court in Original Criminal
Misc. Case No. 8 of 1957.
A.V. Viswanatha Sastri, H. R. Khanna and T.
M. Sen, for the appellant.
H. V. Sanyal, Additional Solicitor General of
India, B. M. Patnaik, S. N. Andley, J. B. Dadachanji and Rameshwar Nath, for
respondent No. 1.
1961. March 14. The Judgment of the Court was
delivered by MUDHOLKAR, J.-The appellant who, at the relevant time, was Under
Secretary to the Board of Revenue, Orissa, has been admonished for contempt of
court and directed to pay the costs of the proceedings before the High Court of
The occasion for the institution of contempt
proceedings against the appellant 327 was the circulation of the view of the
Legal Remembrancer and the Advocate;-General to the District Magistrates of the
Northern Division of Orissa dated January 19, 1955, in which the following
"I am directed to enclose copies of the
opinions of the Legal Remembrancer and of the Advocate General and to say that
the Law Department are of opinion that no special authorization is necessary to
empower Magistrates to take cognizance under section 20 of the Cattle Trespass
Act. This may be followed until the matter is carried to the High Court in some
case, so that the confusion created by the Orissa High Court decision reported
in All India Reporter 1951 Orissa, page 40 might be set at rest." This
endorsement bears the signature of the appellant.
After the attention of the High Court was
drawn to the aforesaid endorsement it caused notices to be issued not only to
the Under Secretary to the Board of Revenue but also to the Legal Remembrancer
of Orissa to show cause way they should not be committed for contempt., Both of
them showed cause. The High Court absolved the Legal Remembrancer but convicted
the appellant and admonished him, as already stated. It may be mentioned that
both of them had tendered apologies to the High Court. Even so, we think that
the appellant was rightly found guilty of contempt of court and admonished as
well as required to pay the costs of the proceedings.
The point on which the opinion of the Legal Remembrancer
was sought was whether a Magistrate authorised by the District Magistrate to
take cognisance of offences under s. 190, Code of Criminal Procedure, can be
regarded as a Magistrate authorised by the District Magistrate as contemplated
by s. 20 of the Cattle Trespass Act. In the case referred to in the endorsement
of the appellant, the Orissa High Court had taken the view following the
decision in Raghu Singh v. Abdul Wahab (1) that authorisation is necessary. The
decision in Raghu Singh v. Abdul Wahab (1) was (1) (1896) I.L.R. 23,Cal. 442.
328 dissented from in Budhan Mahto v. Issur
Singh (1) and it does not appear that this fact was brought to the notice of
the Orissa High Court. The Legal Remembrancer to whom the matter was referred
submitted a note which, according to the High Court, was "something
ambiguous and did not deal with all questions--consequential and
ancillary". In spite of that the appellant, in his endorsement, gave a
direction to the Magistrates to ignore the decision of the High Court even
though that was binding on them. We have not the least doubt that such a
direction is a flagrant interference with the administration of justice by
courts and a clear contempt of court. Upon this view we dismiss the appeal.