DAVID v. STATE OF MAHARASHTRA & ORS.  INSC 1662 (21 October 2009)
ORIGINAL JURISDICTION WRIT PETITION (CRL)NO.D 22040 of 2008 Leila David ...
Petitioner State of Maharashtra & Ors. ... Respondents WITH Crl.M.P.No.12870/2008
in W.P.(Crl.)No.D22040/2008, W.P.(Crl.)No.D24281/2008,W.P.(Crl.)No.D25985/2008,
Suo Motu Contempt Pet.(Crl.)No.3/2008 in W.P.
Suo Motu Contempt Pet.(Crl.) No.7/2009, Suo Motu Contemptet.(C)No.225/2008, Suo
Motu Contempt Pet.(C)No.226/2008 in SLP(C) No.9434/2006 and Suo Motu Contempt
in SLP(Crl)No........./2007 (Crl.M.P.No. 553/2007)
O R D E R
Petition (Crl.) D. No.22040 of 2008 (since renumbered as Writ Petition (Crl.)
No.91 of 2008) 2 was filed by one Leila David in this Court on 4th August,
2008, under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, inter alia, for the
following reliefs :
Writ of Mandamus directing the Maharashtra Govt. to ensure that
the Petitioner is able to reside in her home without any illegal interference,
threats, harassment or visits from the police.
Writ of Mandamus directing Director of CBI/ Ministry of Home
Affairs- organize Interpol protection to Ms. Lydia Desai, Mrs. Priscilla D'souza
and Ms. Rebecca Desai in Australia.
Writ of Mandamus directing army protection to BOSS School members
and their families in India, since all levels of police, politicians and judges
are involved in this Genocide and the situation is set to escalate.
Writ of Mandamus directing criminal proceedings and strongest
punishment to following judges of Bombay High Court, for being party to the
Khandeparkar b. P.V. Kakade 3 c. Ranjana Desai d. D.B. Bhosale e. B.H.
Marlapalle f. Roshan Dalvi g. D.G. Deshpande h. V.K. Tahilramani i. Swatanter
Kumar j. J.P. Devadhar k. JN Patel l. Nishita Mhatre
Writ of Mandamus directing immediate arrest and strongest
punishment to the anti- BOSS petitioners who have filed bogus cases, initiate a
nationwide witch-hunt and destroyed a pioneering organization and the lives of
brilliant young educationist, only to gain control over their adult son and
2. In the
meantime, another Writ Petition, being Writ Petition (Crl.) D. No.24281 of 2008
(since renumbered as Writ Petition (Crl.) No.92 of 2008) was filed by one Ms.
Annette Kotian and the same was taken up for consideration along with the Writ
Petition filed by Leila David on 29th August, 2008.
outset, this Court observed that some of the 4 allegations made in the two writ
petitions, as well as in the supporting affidavits, appeared prima facie to be
per se contempt of this Court.
the petitioners were asked to withdraw the allegations made, they refused to do
so and submitted that they stood by the said averments and strongly urged the
Court to issue process to arrest the 12 Judges of the High Court of Bombay
mentioned in prayer (4) to the Writ Petition. In view of the obstinate stand
taken by the petitioners, who were appearing in person, the Court had no
alternative but to issue notice as to why contempt proceedings should not be
issued against them. The matters were thereafter directed to be placed before
the appropriate Bench presided over by the Hon'ble Dr. Justice Arijit Pasayat
(as His Lordship then was).
said two writ petitions along with a third Writ Petition, being WP (Crl) D.
No.25985 of 2008, 5 filed by one Pavithra Murali and four Special Leave
Petitions were listed before the Bench presided over by Dr. Justice Pasayat on
10th September, 2008.
writ petitioners appeared in person, the respondents were duly represented by
counsel and after hearing the petitioners, the Court was of the view that the
show cause reply was equally contumacious and some action was required to be
taken against the petitioners for contempt of this Court. Accordingly, the
Court initiated proceedings for contempt and observed that charges would be
framed. Since the writ petitioners were appearing in person, the Court
appointed Mr. G.E. Vahanvati (who was then the learned Solicitor General) to
act as amicus curiae, in the matter. The matters were directed to be listed on
18th November, 2008, with liberty to the petitioners to file any further
response if they wished to by 10th November, 2008.
Special Leave Petitions, which had appeared along with the writ petitions, were
de-linked. The 6 writ petitions and the suo motu contempt proceedings were
taken up for consideration on 20th March, 2009. As it appears from the record,
when the hearing commenced, the writ petitioners disrupted the proceedings by
using very offensive, intemperate and abusive language at a high pitch.
recorded by Dr. Justice Pasayat indicates that one of the petitioners had gone
to the extent of saying that the Judges should be jailed for having initiated
proceedings against them and that the Judges should be punished for not taking
care of their fundamental rights. One of the writ petitioners, namely, Dr.
Sarita Parikh, went to the extent of throwing a footwear at the Judges. His
Lordship also recorded that all this happened in the presence of the learned
Solicitor General of India (now Attorney General for 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 7 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 this Court, inflicted a punishment of three months' simple
imprisonment on them.
said course of action did not meet the approval of the other learned Judge, the
Hon'ble Mr. Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly, who by a separate order of even date,
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 8 view that the
Court's power under Article 142 was not meant to circumvent the statutory
Lordship, accordingly, observed as follows :
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
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 9 remain in custody till the
matter could be heard by an appropriate Bench.
On the same day the Hon'ble Chief Justice constituted a Bench
comprising the Hon'ble Mr. Justice B.N. Agrawal (as His Lordship then was), the
Hon'ble Mr. Justice G.S. Singhvi and the Hon'ble Mr. Justice H.L. Dattu and
directed the matter to be placed before the said Bench on 23.3.2009 at 2.00
p.m. A direction was also given for production of the contemnors before the
said Bench on the said date. Pursuant to the said order, the matters were duly
listed before the said Bench and were adjourned till 13th April, 2009. In the
meantime, the alleged contemnors were enlarged on bail and the application for
intervention filed by the Supreme Court Bar Association was allowed. On 15th
April, 2009, the matters were released by the aforesaid Bench and were
subsequently placed before this Bench.
The matters were thereafter taken up by this Bench on 5th May,
2009, when the Writ Petitions filed by the alleged contemnors were taken up for
consideration for the purpose of issuance of notice and were, thereafter,
directed to be listed on 16th July, 2009, at 10.30 a.m. for passing orders. The
contempt proceedings were also directed to be listed for consideration on that
On 16th July, 2009, when the two differing orders dated 20.3.2009,
in the Contempt Proceedings were taken up for consideration, the alleged
contemnors refused to make any submissions and insisted that the hearing of the
Writ Petitions, which had already been concluded, be reopened.
other alternative this Court requested the learned Attorney General, the
learned Solicitor General as well as the President of the Supreme Court Bar
Association to make their submissions in 11 regard to the two orders on account
of which the matter was referred to this Bench.
The learned Attorney General supported the view taken by Dr.
Justice Arijit Pasayat and submitted that Section 14 of the Contempt of Courts
Act, 1971, did not preclude the Court from deciding the contempt matter
summarily when such contempt was committed in the face of the Court. The
learned Attorney General submitted that while Section 14 provides a procedure
to be normally followed so as to give the contemnors an opportunity of showing
cause against the action proposed to be taken, in cases of the instant nature
where the incident had taken place within the precincts of the Court room and
within the sight of all present therein, including the Hon'ble Judges who
constituted the Bench, there could be little justification in going through the
procedure prescribed in Section 14 in order to establish that the alleged
contemnors had, 12 in fact, committed contempt of Court. The learned Attorney
General submitted that the footwear was thrown at the Hon'ble Judges within the
vision of everyone present in the Court and the very attitude of the alleged
contemnors was not only demeaning but contumacious as well and calculated to
scandalize and lower the image of the Court and the Judiciary as a whole. Apart
from the above the learned Attorney General also submitted that the language
used in the writ petitions and the reliefs prayed for was also aimed at
scandalizing the Court and debasing the judicial process in the eyes of the
public. It was urged that the alleged contemnors have scant regard for the
Courts and the judicial process and were required to be dealt with firmly in
order to uphold the dignity and majesty of the Courts.
In support of his submissions the learned Attorney General
referred to several decisions, 13 and, in particular, that of a three Judge
Bench of this Court in the case of Vinay Chandra Mishra [(1995) 2 SCC 584],
which was a criminal contempt proceeding initiated by this Court on a letter
received from the Acting Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court alleging
highly contumacious conduct on the part of Shri Vinay Chandra Mishra, a Senior
Advocate and President of the Bar and Chairman of the Bar Council of India,
which not only tended to scandalize and over-awe the court, but to lower its
dignity in the eyes of the public.
Court, accordingly, in exercise of its powers under Article 129 and Article 142
of the Constitution, sentenced the contemnor, Vinay Chandra Mishra, to undergo
simple imprisonment for 6 weeks and also suspended him from practising as an
advocate for a period of 3 years from the date of the order. The sentence of
imprisonment was, however, kept suspended for a period of 4 years with the
provision for activating the same in case 14 the contemnor was convicted for
any other offence of contempt of court within the said period.
The learned Solicitor General and the President of the Bar
Association, while adopting the submissions made by the learned Attorney
General, submitted that the contempt having been committed in the face of the
court, following the procedure in Section 14 would be redundant, since the
incident had taken place in full public view and within the view of the Judges
and no other explanation could be given with regard to the said incident.
Furthermore, the contemnors did not show any sign of remorse or repentance for
their conduct, but continued to behave intemperately, throwing all decorum to
The learned Solicitor General also contended that despite having
been given several opportunities to purge their contumacious behaviour, not
only had the alleged contemnors 15 remained defiant, but they had compounded
the offence by filing a fresh writ petition, wherein, not only were the earlier
statements reiterated, but the Office of the President of India, the Prime
Minister, Attorney General and other high dignitaries were also scandalized and
The learned Solicitor General submitted that this was not a case
where the contemnors had committed an error unintentionally, but the actions of
the contemnors were deliberate and wilful and were carried out purposefully.
Accordingly, the contemnors did not deserve any leniency and were required to
be dealt with in a firm manner. At this stage, we had invited the contemnors to
make their submissions with regard to the contempt proceedings taken against
them and the submissions made by the learned Attorney General as well as the
Solicitor General and the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association. As
the contemnors submitted that they required some time to consider the 16
judgments cited by the Attorney General, the matter was adjourned.
On 20th August, 2009, when the matter was taken up once again, an
unnumbered application filed in W.P. (Crl.) Diary No.2428/2008 was found on
record asking the Bench to recuse itself from the present case. For the reasons
given in our order of 20th August, 2009, such prayer was rejected and despite
being given an opportunity to express regret for their scandalous behaviour,
not only Ms. Annette Kotian, one of the writ petitioners, but the other
contemnors continued to use indecorous, indecent, slanderous and offensive
language, claiming that it was their fundamental right to protect themselves
under Article 21 of the Constitution. Reference was also made to Article 19 and
Ms. Kotian submitted that she was addressing the Court in keeping with the
fundamental right to free speech guaranteed under Article 19 of the
Ultimately, Ms. Kotian speaking for herself and the other contemnors, contended
that since all the orders which had been passed by this Court violate the
fundamental rights of the contemnors, there was no need for further submissions
to be made in the contempt matter.
Dr. Sarita Parikh submitted that she had thrown the footwear in
order to make the learned Judges sitting on the Bench aware of her
constitutional and fundamental rights which she claimed had been violated. This
Bench, therefore, had no option but to reject the application filed by Ms.
Kotian asking this Bench to recuse itself from the case.
other hand, the fresh writ petition which was filed by the contemnors was taken
up for consideration and for the reasons recorded in our order of 20th August,
2009, the same was also dismissed.
As far as the first batch of writ petitions filed by the
contemnors are concerned, the very nature of the pleadings and the prayers made
therein, require the same to be dismissed in limine. Despite the above, we had
given an opportunity to the writ petitioners/contemnors to redeem themselves,
which opportunity they deliberately spurned and proceeded to file a fresh writ
petition, which, as indicated hereinabove was replete with the earlier
scandalous remarks and fresh expletives. We, therefore have no hesitation in
dismissing the writ petitions filed by Leila David, Ms. Annette Kotian and Ms.
Pavithra Murali, with cost of Rs.1 lakh in respect of each writ petition to be
paid by the writ petitioners into the Registry of this Court within 12 weeks
from date, failing which further action will be taken against them. As and when
such deposits are made, the Registry shall keep the same in short-term Fixed
Deposits pending further orders.
As far as the suo motu proceedings for contempt are concerned, we
are of the view that Dr. Justice Arijit Pasayat was well within his
jurisdiction in passing a summary order, having regard to the provisions of
Articles 129 and 142 of the Constitution of India. Although, Section 14 of the Contempt of Courts
Act, 1971, lays down the procedure to be followed in
cases of criminal contempt in the face of the court, it does not preclude the
court from taking recourse to summary proceedings when a deliberate and wilful
contumacious incident takes place in front of their eyes and the public at
large, including Senior Law Officers, such as the Attorney General for India
who was then the Solicitor General of India.
pointed out by Mr. Justice Ganguly, it is a statutory requirement and a
salutary principle that a person should not be condemned unheard, particularly
in a case relating to contempt of 20 Court involving a summary procedure, and
should be given an opportunity of showing cause against the action proposed to
be taken against him/her, there are exceptional circumstances in which such a
procedure may be discarded as being redundant. The incident which took place in
the court room presided over by Dr. Justice Pasayat was within the confines of
the court room and was witnessed by a large number of people and the throwing
of the footwear was also admitted by Dr. Sarita Parikh, who without expressing
any regret for her conduct stood by what she had done and was supported by the
other contemnors. In the light of such admission, the summary procedure
followed by Dr. Justice Pasayat cannot be faulted.
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 21
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. In re: Nand Lal Balwani [(1999) 2 SCC 743], it was held that where an
Advocate shouted slogans and hurled a shoe towards the Court causing
interference with judicial proceedings and did not even tender an apology, he
would be liable for contempt in the face of the Court. It was observed by the
Bench of three Judges which heard the matter that law does not give a lawyer,
unsatisfied with the result of any litigation, licence to permit himself the
liberty of causing disrespect to the Court or attempting, in any manner, to
lower the dignity of the Court. It was also observed that Courts could not be
intimidated into passing favourable orders. Consequently, on account of his
contumacious conduct, this Court sentenced the contemnor to suffer four months
simple imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs.2,000/-. In another 22 decision of
this Court in Charan Lal Sahu v. Union of India and another [(1988) 3 SCC 255],
a petition filed by an experienced advocate of this Court by way of a public interest
litigation was couched in unsavoury language and an intentional attempt was
made to indulge in mudslinging against the advocates, the Supreme Court and
other constitutional institutions. Many of the allegations made by him were
likely to lower the prestige of the Supreme Court. It was also alleged that the
Supreme Court had become a constitutional liability without having control over
the illegal acts of the Government. This Court held that the pleadings in the
writ petition gave the impression that they were clearly intended to denigrate
the Supreme Court in the esteem of the people of India.
facts of the case, the petitioner therein was prima facie held to be guilty of
contempt of Court.
Section 14 of the Contempt of Courts Act no doubt
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 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. In the instant case, after being given
an opportunity to explain their conduct, not only have the contemnors shown no
remorse for their unseemly behaviour, but they have gone even further by filing
a fresh writ 24 petition in which apart from repeating the scandalous remarks
made earlier, certain new dimensions in the use of unseemly and intemperate
language have been resorted to further denigrate and scandalize and over-awe
the Court. This is one of such cases where no leniency can be shown as the
contemnors have taken the liberal attitude shown to them by the Court as
licence for indulging in indecorous behaviour and making scandalous allegations
not only against the judiciary, but those holding the highest positions in the country.
proceedings have been taken in gross abuse of the process of Court, with the
deliberate and wilful intention of lowering the image and dignity not only of
the Court and the judiciary, but to vilify the highest constitutional
In such circumstances, while agreeing with the procedure adopted
by Dr. Justice Pasayat in the facts of this case, we are not inclined to 25
interfere with the sentence which has been imposed on the contemnors. The order
dated 20th March, 2009, granting bail to the contemnors is hereby recalled.
Secretary General is directed to take the contemnors into custody forthwith and
to arrange to have them sent to the appropriate jail to serve out the sentence.
Let arrest warrants be issued against Leila David and Pavithra
Murali, who are not present in Court today, despite our directions. The
Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, is directed to take steps to execute the arrest
warrants and to take them into custody and to arrange for their detention in
prison in terms of the order passed on 20th March, 2009, and the order being
Let copies of this order be made available to the Registry for
communication to the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, forthwith.
................................................J. (ALTAMAS KABIR)
................................................J. (G.S. SINGHVI)
Dated: October 21, 2009.