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R. S. Tripathi Vs. State of U. P [1993] INSC 323 (24 August 1993)

ACT:

HEAD NOTE:

ORDER

1. Heard learned counsel.

2. These two appeals are directed against the judgment of a Division Bench of Allahabad High Court convicting the appellants under Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 sentencing each of them to undergo simple imprisonment for one week and a fine of Rs 500 each. In default to payment of fine, they shall undergo further simple imprisonment for a period of one week.

3.One Bhola Dutt Joshi, along with some other accused in a Sessions trial was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for life for having committed the murder of his minor daughter and also under Section 307 Indian Penal Code for 505 attempting to murder his wife. While he was lodging in the Central Jail, Bareilly, serious disturbance occurred which led to firing resulting in the death of some prisoners and injuries to some others. Later, Joshi, along with some others was transferred to the Central Jail, Naini. A habeas corpus petition was filed by the said Bhola Dutt Joshi in the Allahabad High Court alleging that he was being illegally kept in a solitary confinement. A notice was issued to the respondent the jail superintendent. The writ petition was listed for hearing. A further allegation was that he was tortured and third-degree method was applied to him in jail for his filing the said writ petition and asking him to withdraw the writ petition. Making these allegations, a petition for contempt was filed on the ground that by such torture, the concerned officers clearly interfered with the judicial process and thereby committed an act of contempt punishable under Section 12 of Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. A counter was filed on behalf of the contemnors denying the allegations.

4.It may be mentioned herein that the said Joshi was also got medically examined on October 20 and the doctor found only tender bone thinking of 2nd Metaforsal bone of right foot with descending swelling which appeared to be of about 3 weeks old. No other injury was noticed. In any event, an inquiry was directed and the District Judge, Allahabad was directed to inquire into the matter and submit a report.

The learned District Judge examined a number of inmates.

One of the important findings was that nobody stated about Joshi or that he was beaten or tortured at the instance of Jail Superintendent. Be that as it may, the two appellants, however, tendered unqualified apology before the High Court.

The learned Judges of the Division Bench noted that they were not satisfied that the apology was bona fide, on the ground that in the earliest stages they filed a counter denying the allegations and only tendered apology when the District Judge was directed to inquire into the matter and recorded the findings.

5.Factually, we find that the report of the learned District Judge was dated November 25, 1992 and the contemnors, in fact, tendered apology on November 20, 1992 itself. Therefore, it may not be correct to state that the apology tendered was not bona fide on the mere ground that it was filed subsequent to the District Judge's report, when, in fact, they were filed earlier. Section 12(1) of the Contempt of Courts Act lays down "that the accused may be discharged or the punishment awarded may be remitted on apology being made to the satisfaction of the court".

Explanation therein shows that "an apology would not be rejected merely on the ground that it is qualified or conditional if the accused makes it bona fide". The High Court rejected the apology stating that it was not bona fide and the reason given is that it was filed after the report of the District Judge, which, as we have stated earlier, is not actually correct. Therefore, it is difficult to say that it is not bona fide.

6.That apart, we ourselves have examined the apology tendered. In the application, in which the apology was tendered, it is clearly stated thus- "[T]hat the deponent has not committed any contempt of court. The deponent has highest regards for the court. The deponent, however, hereby tenders unqualified apologies for any act of omission or commission which may amount to slightest contempt of this Hon'ble Court." This is an unqualified apology and in the facts and circumstances mentioned above, it cannot also be said that it is not bona fide. In the circumstances the apologies tendered by them are accepted and the contemnors are discharged.

506 Consequently, the conviction and sentence awarded by the High Court are set aside. The appeals are allowed accordingly.

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