Kumar Prahladka Vs. Chief Justice Prabha Shanker Mishra & Anr  Insc
337 (28 April 2004)
Sabharwal & Arun Kumar.
Criminal Appeal No.846/1998] Y.K. Sabharwal, J.
appeals have been filed against the impugned judgment and order of the Division
Bench of the Calcutta High Court dated 5th May, 1998 holding the appellant
guilty of contempt of court for having made contemptuous and reckless averments
scandalizing the Court in two Contempt Petitions which he had filed in the High
Court and sentencing him to six months' imprisonment and fine of Rs.2,000/-.
The proceedings in the said two Contempt Petitions No.333 of 1997 and CPAN No.
902 of 1998 were also disposed of in terms of the impugned judgment and order.
Court granted to the appellant an order of stay of sentence of imprisonment
only. Before release, the appellant had already undergone an imprisonment for
36 days. CC
No.333/97 and CPAN No.902/98 were filed by the appellant before the High Court
for initiating contempt of court proceedings against the respondents who at
that point of time were the sitting judges of the High Court. CC No.333/97 was
filed on 4th December, 1997 against the two judges who were members of the
Division Bench which made an order dated 16th September, 1997 directing issue
of suo motu contempt notice to the appellant noticing in their order that the
newspaper reports based on the statement of the appellant were prima facie
contemptuous. By the said order the appellant was also directed to file a
supplementary affidavit giving details of his educational qualifications in
justification of his claim of being a law researcher, to furnish details of the
contempt application which he has allegedly made and which was pending before
the High Court and reasons and justification for the statements made in the
newspaper with the materials on which he may claim to have relied. Prima facie,
the Court found that the newspaper reports tend to interfere with the
administration of justice. In terms of the orders dated 13th August and 16th September, 1997, suo motu contempt notice dated 26th September, 1997 was issued to the appellant.
second contempt petition (CPAN No.902/98) was filed by the appellant on 24th April, 1998 against two other Hon'ble judges
who were members of another Division Bench which passed an order dated 12th January, 1998 dismissing an application which the
appellant had filed under Section 340 Cr.P.C. In the judgment dated 12th
January, 1998, the Division Bench made observations to the following effect :-
"Pretending to be a researcher on law and judiciary and claiming he has
successfully researched several judgments of the Supreme Court and the High
Court in regard to interpretation of law and power exercised by the Courts, the
petitioner Deepak Kumar Prahldka has only exhibited ignorance of law by filing
the instant petition." According to the appellant, the charge that he
pretended to be a researcher of law and judiciary was false and had been made
without reference to any evidence and in this view the appellant prayed that
the contempt of court proceedings be initiated against the judges who were
members of the Division Bench.
decision of these appeals, we would assume as correct the claim which the
appellant had made at the relevant time that he is a researcher on law and
judiciary, having researched several judgments of Supreme Court and the High
Courts in regard to the interpretation of law and power exercised by the
courts. On this assumption, the course adopted by the appellant in filing two
contempt petitions was rather more shocking since the assumption would also
show that the appellant is not a layman but a person well versed with law. It
is fully understandable that when an order is passed directing issue of suo motu
contempt notice to the appellant, he contests it on such grounds as may be
available in law but the appellant adopted a strange and wholly uncalled for
course of filing contempt petition against the judges who made the order
directing issue of such contempt notice. Likewise, it is understandable that if
the appellant is aggrieved by the order dated 12th January, 1998, he challenges
correctness thereof in appropriate proceedings or if any incorrect factual
statement is made in that order, he seeks an order for expunging that statement
but, instead of so doing, he files a contempt case (CPAN No.902/98) against the
judges who passed the order dismissing his application under Section 340 Cr.P.C.
the aforesaid two contempt petitions came up for consideration before a Division
Bench, which comprised of two Hon'ble Judges who had passed the order dated
12th January, 1998, the appellant for having made in those petitions sweeping
contemptuous remarks against the judges and having gone beyond all norms of a
civilized society and having scandalized the court in the manner he filed the
contempt petitions and made allegations therein, was convicted of contempt of
court and sentenced as earlier noticed. Both contempt petitions were dismissed.
appellant has appeared in person. The dismissal of the two contempt petitions
by the High Court is not under challenge. The appellant submits that he does
not wish to challenge the impugned judgment and order to the extent it
dismisses those contempt petitions. The challenge of the appellant is to his
conviction and sentence by the impugned judgment and order. The main ground
urged by the appellant in support of his challenge is that it was one thing to
dismiss the contempt petitions filed by him but it is altogether different to
hold him guilty of contempt for filing the said contempt petitions and making
averments therein which the appellant contends, is not permissible in law
without issue of notice to him and affording him a reasonable opportunity to
respond. The second contention of the appellant is that CPAN No.902/96 could
not have been heard and disposed of by the Hon'ble Judges who passed the
impugned judgment and order as the judges themselves were respondents in the
is merit in both the contentions. Undoubtedly, the course adopted by the
appellant was very shocking and prima facie the filing of the two contempt
petitions and nature of insinuations against the judges therein were
contemptuous but howsoever glaring the facts of the case may be, the appellant
was entitled to a notice and an opportunity before holding him guilty of
contempt and passing an order of imprisonment against him.
the record it seems evident that neither any notice was issued nor a reasonable
opportunity was afforded to the appellant before passing the impugned judgment
and order. Further, the second contempt petition could not have been heard and
disposed of by the learned Judges since they were respondents in the said
petition. The prayer in that case though totally misconceived was to initiate
contempt proceedings against the judges who heard and disposed it of. The
justice should not only be done but should also appear to have been done. It
may further be noticed that the present is not a case of contempt in the face
of the court . It is a case where the averments made in the two contempt
petitions are prima facie contemptuous and tend to scandalize the court.
aforesaid facts, ordinarily setting aside the impugned judgment and order, we
would have remitted the matter to the High Court for issue of notice and grant
of opportunity to the appellant before deciding whether he is guilty of
contempt. But, having regard to the peculiar facts of the case, we are of the
view that it is not necessary to remand the case.
appellant has already undergone a sentence for a period of 36 days.
the contempt petitions (CC No.333/97 and CPAN No.902) have been dismissed and
the appellant does not wish to challenge the dismissal thereof. Moreover, the
appellant seems to have learnt the lesson in the last six years. Instead of the
negative approach as demonstrated by filing of the two contempt petitions, he
claims to have started constructive work of promoting the rights of the
prisoners and has joined as a legal correspondent in one of the reputed
newspapers in support whereof he has filed the newspaper reports. Those reports
show that the appellant is working as a legal correspondent. It is claimed by
the appellant that reports are widely appreciated by legal fraternity and
judges of the High Court. The appellant also does not want to lay challenge or
hold anyone responsible for the period of 36 days spent by him in jail.
regard to the aforesaid peculiar facts, while maintaining dismissal of the two
contempt petitions, we set aside the impugned judgment and order convicting the
appellant for contempt of court and sentencing him as aforesaid. The fine, if
deposited, shall be refunded to the appellant. The appeals are disposed of