Yadav Vs. State of Bihar  INSC 394 (12 May 2010)
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 188
OF 2009 Ranveer Yadav .....Appellant(s) - Versus - State of Bihar
is a statutory appeal under Section 19(1)(b) of the Contempt of Courts
Act, 1971 read with Order XXI Rule 15(1)(e) of the
Supreme Court Rules, 1966 from the final judgment and sentence dated 3.9.2008
of the High Court of Patna in Original Cr. Misc.(DB) No. 8 of 2008.
said Original Misc. (DB) No. 8 of 2008 was a reference through a communication
dated 22.4.2008 by the 1st Additional Sessions Judge, Khagaria about an
incident 1 which happened in his Court on 13.2.2008. The High Court treated the
same a reference made under Section 15(2) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971
(hereinafter, "the Act") made by the 1st Additional Sessions Judge,
Khagaria (hereinafter, "the Judge").
reference by the Judge was made for the reason that during the course of the
Sessions Trial No.46/93 on 13.02.2008, five of the alleged contemnors were on
one side and the sixth contemnor, the appellant Ranveer Yadav, on the other
side, and all of them disrupted the proceedings by aggressively exchanging
heated words and creating unpleasant scenes in Court. The decorum and dignity
of the Court was so much threatened that the Judge was forced to rise.
4. Out of
the six contemnors, Bharat Yadav, Bimal Yadav, Ajay Yadav, Pandav Yadav and
Madan Yadav are accused in the Sessions Trial No. 46/93. The appellant Ranveer
Yadav, an witness in the case and was due to be cross- examined on that day,
High Court on the basis of such reference issued notice on 11.07.2008 to show
cause why the alleged contemnors should not be held guilty of Criminal Contempt
for their acts set out in the reference.
6. In the
joint affidavits filed by the first five contemnors, they tendered their
apologies for creating the disturbance and stated that the main person
responsible for the ruckus was the appellant Ranveer Yadav. They stated the
scene was created by him to delay his cross-examination.
show cause submitted by Madan Yadav, who is 76 years old and is one of the
accused in the Sessions Trial No. 46/93, is a crucial one. Madan Yadav stated
that the appellant is the prime accused in a case of murder of Madan's son in
1998. In that case the appellant could be produced before the Trial Court for
the purpose of framing charges only on the orders of the High Court.
further stated that he had been falsely implicated in the criminal case which
was pending before the Court on the basis of a police complaint containing
false 3 allegations made by the brother of the appellant. The main reason for
Madan's implication is to pressurize him to withdraw the earlier case relating
to the murder of his son and which is pending against the appellant.
High Court after noting these facts observed that the appellant, on many
occasions came to the Trial Court with followers who helped him in creating a
nuisance in Court. It also observed that several Additional Public Prosecutors
had withdrawn themselves from criminal cases against the appellant in view of
threats and intimidation they received from the appellant. On the date of
incident, even the defence counsel was not spared as is apparent from the
letter written by the defence counsel to the Presiding Officer.
High Court found that appellant had also managed to postpone and delay his
cross-examination on various occasions on the pretext of illness and
non-appearance on the fixed dates.
was also brought to the notice of the High Court that a case under Section 302
IPC in which the appellant was an accused had to be transferred to another
district in view of threats and intimidation given out by the appellant.
the show cause submitted by the appellant Ranveer Yadav, he tried to justify
his behaviour on 13.02.2008 by stating that on 12.12.2007, the Court had been
informed that there would be a compromise. But he got miffed when the
Additional Public Prosecutor made an appearance before the Court and he thought
that the latter had appeared without the orders of the Public Prosecutor. On
such justification of the appellant, High Court held that the appellant being a
witness had nothing to do with the appearance of the public prosecutor and held
that the appellant's misbehaviour was not justified.
regard to his failure to appear before the Court on 1.3.2008, the appellant
stated that he was not provided the police protection which he had asked for.
High Court held that all the Contemnors were guilty of having committed
criminal contempt and it relied on the letters of the two prosecution counsel
as well as the defence counsel and came to the conclusion that the main person
responsible for the disruption was the appellant who acted in a motivated and
high handed manner to interfere in the due conduct of the proceeding.
Court further held that the main culprit for the disruption in Court was the
appellant. While accepting the unqualified apology of the other five contemnors
and letting them off with admonition and severe warning, the appellant was
sentenced to a simple imprisonment for two months with a fine of Rs.2,000/- and
in default the appellant was to undergo a further imprisonment of one month.
Court while issuing notice in this appeal passed an order dated 28.8.2009
asking the other five contemnors to show cause why the order of the High Court
6 accepting their unconditional apology and directing them to be let off be not
set aside. In the meantime, a further stay on the arrest of the appellant was
ordered extending the order whereby the appellant was given exemption from
five contemnors who were let off by the High Court filed their joint counter
affidavit on 28.01.2010. While tendering their unqualified apology, they have
given the same explanation as given before the High Court that the main person
responsible for the disruptions was the appellant. In Paras IV as well as V of
the counter affidavit, they have stated that the appellant behaved in an
audacious manner and abused the counsel for the both sides and refused to be
examined. They have also made allegations that the appellant is a very well
connected person and has a political background with criminal antecedents.
this case learned counsel for the appellant sought to argue that in a contempt
proceeding, the High Court cannot take a different stand by punishing the
appellant 7 and letting the other appellants go unpunished even after holding
that they are guilty of contempt.
counsel also argued that in the show-cause notice which was given to the
appellant, no different role has been attributed to him so he cannot be treated
differently by the High Court in the matter of awarding punishment.
Court is unable to appreciate the above contention of the learned counsel for
the appellant. In the facts of the case and on the materials on record, it is
clear that the case of the appellant stands on a different footing. In fact the
appellant took the main role in causing disruption and there has no lack of
opportunity on his part in answering the charges against him. The charges put
against him must be read in a practical sense and cannot be read in a pedantic
manner. All the constituents of the charges were stated in the show- cause
notice and the appellant has understood the charges and has given the reply.
Nowhere in the reply the appellant has raised any difficulty in understanding
the charges. It does not appear that any contention was 8 raised by the
appellant before the High Court about any vagueness in the charges or about
furnishing inadequate particulars in the charges. This argument of the learned
counsel for the appellant only before this Court and that too without a proper
factual basis cannot be entertained.
Criminal contempt has been defined under Section 2(c) of the Act. The said
definition is very wide. For a proper appreciation of the questions involved in
this case the said definition is set out below:- "2(c). "criminal
contempt" means the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or
by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the
doing of any other act whatsoever which- (i) scandalizes or tends to
scandalize, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court; or (ii)
prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any
judicial proceeding; or (iii) interferes or tends to interfere with, or
obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner;"
the facts of the case it is clear that in this case the offending acts of the
appellant are specifically 9 coming under Section 2(c)(ii). Due conduct of any
judicial proceeding is a matter of high public importance as it is inextricably
connected with rule of law on which is based the constitutional mode of
governance in this country. That is why the framers of the Act preceded the
expression interfere with the words "tends to" and it has been
further emphasized by addition of word `due' before "course of any
must remember that legislature does not waste words.
every word used in Section 2(c)(ii) must be given its proper and natural
meaning. Thus read, Section 2(c)(ii) must be given a broad sweep so as to
include within it even any attempt to interfere with the due course of a
judicial proceeding. The word `due' is very crucial in this context and must
mean a natural and proper course of judicial proceeding.
Court, therefore, holds that Section 2(c)(ii) has been enacted to protect apart
from sanctity, the regularity and purity of a judicial proceeding. This, we 10
repeat, is based on principles of high public policy.
why contempt power is said to be an inherent attribute of a Superior Court of
Record. This power has not been given to the subordinate judiciary, but in an
appropriate case, subordinate judiciary can make a reference to the High Court
under Section 15 (2) of the Act, as has been done in this case. Thus when High
Court exercises its power on a reference under Section 15(2) of the Act, it is
virtually exercising the same as a guardian of the subordinate judiciary to
protect its proceedings against an outrage and affront. In exercising such
power, the High Court being a `Court of Record' and the highest judicial
authority in the State is discharging its jurisdiction `in loco parentis' over
subordinate judiciary in that State. Therefore, there is something in the
nature of High Court's power under Section 15(2) of the Act which couples it
with a duty.
is obviously to uphold the rule of law. Here we may remember the views of Lord
Chancellor Earl Cairns, who gave the concept of power coupled with duty, the
most graceful articulation and which I quote:
there may be something in the nature of the thing empowered to be done,
something in the object for which it is to be done, something in the conditions
under which it is 11 to be done, something in the title of the person or
persons for whose benefit the power is to be exercised, which may couple the
power with a duty, and make it the duty of the person in whom the power is
reposed to exercise that power when called upon to do so..."
v. Lord Bishop of Oxford and another, 5 A.C. 214 (H.L.) at 222-223]
words resonate with a strange poignancy even today. But there is a rider.
Contempt power has to be exercised with utmost caution and in an appropriate
case and that is why High Court has been entrusted with it.
offending acts of the appellant constitute contempt in the face of Court. When
contempt takes place in the face of the Court, peoples' faith in the
administration of justice receives a severe jolt and precious judicial time is
wasted. Therefore, the offending acts of the appellant certainly come within
the ambit of interference with the due course of judicial proceeding and are a
clear case of criminal contempt in the face of the Court.
High Court, in the impugned judgment, therefore was correct in holding the
appellant guilty and also in 12 punishing him with the sentence it has imposed.
It appears in the show cause notice, which was given by the appellant,
initially he did not offer any apology.
the appellant tried to justify. The apology was offered in a subsequent show cause
reply. Therefore, it is a belated apology.
may be noted that under Explanation to Section 12(1) of the Act, the Court may
reject an apology if the Court finds that it was not made bonafide. Under
Section 12 it has been made very clear that the apology must be to the
satisfaction of the Court. Therefore, it is not incumbent upon the Court to
accept the apology as soon as it is offered. Before an apology can be accepted,
the Court must find that it is bonafide and is to the satisfaction of the Court.
However, Court cannot reject an apology just because it is qualified and
conditional provided the Court finds it is bonafide.
apology in a contempt proceeding must be offered at the earliest possible
opportunity. A belated apology hardly shows the `contrition which is the
essence of the purging of a contempt'.
Court in the case of Debabrata Bandopadhyay and others vs. The State of West
Bengal and another reported in AIR 1969 SC 189, observed "an apology must
be offered and that too clearly and at the earliest opportunity. A person who
offers a belated apology runs the risk that it may not be accepted for such an
apology hardly shows the contrition which is the essence of the purging of a
contempt" (See para 7 page 193 of the report).
from belated apology in many cases such apology is not accepted unless it is
in a case of civil contempt this Court held in the case of Principal, Rajni
Parekh Arts, K.B. Commerce and B.C.J. Science College, Khambhat and another vs.
Mahendra Ambalal Shah reported in 1986 (2) SCC 560 that an apology offered at a
late stage would encourage the litigants to flout the orders of Courts with
impunity and accordingly the Court refused to accept the apology (See para 7
page 566 of the report).
Equally in the case of Secretary, Hailakandi Bar Association vs. State of Assam
and another reported in (1996) 9 SCC 74, this Court in a case of criminal
contempt refused to accept an apology which was belated.
held that such belated apology cannot be accepted because it has not been given
in good faith (See para 24 page 82).
if it is not belated where apology is without real contrition and remorse and
was merely tendered as a weapon of defence, the Court may refuse to accept it.
Chandra Shashi vs. Anil Kumar Verma, (1995) 1 SCC 421).
the reasons aforesaid, the appeal fails, the judgment of the High Court is
affirmed. The appellant is to serve the sentence in terms of the High Court
order. Notices issued on other respondents, namely, Bharat Yadav, Bimal Yadav,
Ajay Yadav, Pandav Yadav and Madan Yadav are discharged.
.......................J. (G.S. SINGHVI)