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Sadhvi Ritumbhara Vs. Digvijay Singh & ANR [1997] INSC 170 (17 February 1997)

K. RAMASWAMY, G.T. NANAVATI

ACT:

HEAD NOTE:

O R D E R Pursuant to the order passed by this Court on January 13, 1997, M. Gopal Reddy, IAS, the then Director of Public Relation & Information and Mangal Prasad Misra, then Assistant Director, Public Relation & Information appeared in person. They have filed their affidavits. This court by order date September 9, 1995 had disposed of the appeal filed by the State of Madhya Pradesh on the basis of the consent of the learned senior counsel appearing for the State, Shri P.P. Rao and Shri D.D. Thakur, learned senior counsel for the petitioner, This court had stated that in view of the respective stands taken by the counsel on either side, the courts below were directed to dispose of all the pending or connected matters between the parties on their merits, without being influenced by any of the findings and observations made by the High Court in the Impugned judgment under appeal. The appeal was accordingly disposed or. On September 9, 1995, after the receipt of the order passed by this Court, M.P. Mishra, the them assistant Director, Public Relations & Information in the Directorate of the Government of Madhya Pradesh at Bhopal had the news published conveying to the public that the order of the High Court court was reversed by this Court. Thereby, the detention of the petitioner herein by implication stood upheld and the stand of the Government also stood fortified. As a consequence, the State was directed to proceed with the matter in the court below, the above statement is a clear distortion of the order passed by this court. There, the respondents have committed wilful distortion of the judgment which amounts to contempt of this Court.

M. Gopal Reddy, the then Director, States that the Press release was prepared and issued by M.P. Mishra, who was not conversant with the legal terminology and, therefore, he committed that act of publishing as a news without knowing the correct implication of the order passed by this Court. M.P. Mishra has stated that "I joined the Department as a daily wager in the year 1980, after about 6 months, I was appointed as L.D.C. Later, I was appointed as Scrutiniser and assistant Public Relation Officer. I was promoted as Assistant Director (Advertisement) in the year 1990 and in 1991, I was shifted to the News Section, I do not possess any qualification in law, I submit that as a person working under the Government, I am not acquainted with legal terminology. I never had and opportunity of preparing a press release covering the judgment/order passed by this Hon'ble Court." Thereby, he admits that "In own up my mistake in not understanding the order dated 8.9.1995 correctly. I misunderstood the worlds "leave granted:" as accepting the case of the State Government on merits. I was under the impressing that by permitted the proceedings in the Trial Court to continue uninfluenced by the findings and observations of the High Court, the petitions of the Government were accepted." Thus, he admits that he cannot understand the legal terminology and has no capacity to understand the legal terminology and has no capacity to understand the order to the implications or effect of it since he was not acquainted with the legal terminology and he did not have any opportunity to prepare the press release on an earlier occasion covering the judgment and order of a court. Shri P.P. Rao, learned senior counsel appearing for him. repeatedly stated that as soon as the order was received, he released it. Since he admits that he is incapable of understanding the court order, is it not his duty to consult the Law Department or the Director before issuing the distorted statement.

It would, thus, be seen that he has lack of knowledge or experience in the publication of the press release of the judgment or order of the Court. This also would show that he did not even care to take necessary instruction from the persons who had an experience or sought guidance from the law department before releasing distorted version of the judgment. Thereby, it is admitted that what the Assistant Director has done was distortion of the contents of the judgment with a view to convey to the public that the petitioner's detention order was upheld by this court as this Court did not go into that question and directed the courts below to decide the controversy without being influenced by any of the findings and observations made by the High Court including of this Court. Thus, M.P. Mishra has deliberated done the act of misleading the public by making mis-statement of the contents of the order and, thereby, committed contempt of this Court. we do not think that he has done so deliberately with a view to undermine the order of this Court, We accept his unconditional apology and close this matter as against him. Equally, M.Gopal Reddy, being the Director, it is his duty to see that the Directorate function properly, particularly when it relates to the issuance of the public information of contents of an order of this Court; unfortunately, he has not done it, it is not clearly from the record whether it was brought to his notice before publishing or matters are passing without his knowledge from his Directorate side tracking him. Even then Director himself as Director ultimately bears responsibility for that acts done by the Directorate, Under these circumstances, we accept his unconditional apology and close the matter.

The Contempt Petition is ordered accordingly.

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