National Textile Workers' Union Vs.
P.R. Ramakrishnan & Ors  INSC 61 (5 May 1983)
CHANDRACHUD, Y.V. ((CJ) CHANDRACHUD, Y.V.
((CJ) TULZAPURKAR, V.D.
VARADARAJAN, A. (J)
CITATION: 1983 AIR 750 1983 SCR (3) 12 1983
SCC (3) 105 1983 SCALE (1)530
Contempt of Courts Act, 1971-Section
12-Contemner made serious allegations of corruption against Judges of High
Court-Agreed to apologies-But resiled and published scurrilous writings-Whether
should be punished.
The contemner, a journalist, was charged with
committing contempt of court for publishing in his journals articles that
certain judgments given by four Judges of the High Court proceeded from corrupt
motives. At the end of the hearing of the contempt petition in this Court he
was given a choice to submit apologies to this Court as well as to each of the
four Judges of the High Court and if he chose to do so he should publish them
on the front page of his papers. He submitted an apology to this Court; but
within 10 days thereafter he published an article purporting to give a gist of
the proceedings of this Court in the contempt petition stating that this Court
told him that "if you tender apology we will consider. Under the
circumstances I agreed for tendering apology". Later he came out with a
front page article that his "conscience did not permit him to tender
apologies to each of the four Judges and that he had decided to go to jail
rather than tender apology to them".
HELD: The conduct and writings of the
contemner constitute serious interference with the administration of justice,
since his sole object in giving publicity to the defamatory allegations against
the Judges was to deter them from deciding cases against him or against those
in whom he is apparently interested. The apology tendered by him was an eye
wash, a make-belief, and cannot be accepted. In fact, there was no apology to
accept because he had resiled from it. Indeed he was penitent for having
apologised to the High Court Judges whose character he had assailed without the
semblance of sincerity of purpose or purity of means. He was not penitent for
his conduct. [17 E-G] The apology tendered by the contemner to this Court was a
mere device to escape punishment for his culpable conduct.
He had committed a breach of the undertaking
given by him to this Court that he would not make similar charges against
Judges and that he would publish his apology in the two journals. Far from
carrying out that undertaking he had ventured into another bout of scurrilous
writings against the High Court Judges. [16 D-E] 13 From the tenor of his
articles and his conduct it was apparent that he was inspired by some others
working from behind the curtain. But the fact that the contemner was writing at
the behest of undisclosed principals is not an extenuating circumstance.
Very often, contemners are so contemptible
that it is useless to take serious notice of their conduct but it is necessary
to take action in this case because nothing else would stop a systematic
campaign of vilification against the defenceless Judges of the High Court. [18
ORIGINAL JURISDICTION : Civil Misc. Petition
No. 24899 of 1982.
(For Contempt of Court) In Special Leave
Petition (C) No. 9661 of 1981.
From the Judgment and Order dated the 30
September, 1981 of the Madras High Court at Madras in O.S.A. No. 148 of 1981
arising in Company Petition No. 30 of 1981.
G. Vasant Pai, O. C Mathur, S. Sukumaran and
D. N. Mishra with him for the petitioner.
S.K. Jain and S. Ramaswamy for the Contemner.
P.M. Kumaraswamy @ Kailaimannan was present
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
CHANDRACHUD, C.J. While special leave petition No. 9661 of 1981 (National
Textile Workers' Union v. P.R. Ramakrishnan) was being argued before a five
Judge Bench on September 8, 1982, Shri G. Vasantha Pai, who was appearing on
behalf of the respondents, drew the attention of the Court to certain
statements which had appeared in the Press under the name of one P.M.
Kumaraswamy alias Kailaimannan.
On a petition presented by Shri Pai on behalf
of one R. Baba Chandresekhar under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, the Court
issued a notice to P. Kumaraswamy asking him to show cause why he should not be
committed for committing contempt of Court.
14 Thereafter, the Contempt Petition came up
for hearing before us on various dates. On some of those dates the contemner
asked for adjournment on the ground of his illness while on some dates he
remained absent. On one occasion, he was absent without informing the Court as
to the reasons of his absence. At long last, the contempt petition was heard at
some length on March 30, 1983. On a motion made by Shri S.K. Jain. Advocate, on
behalf of the contemner, the latter was permitted to argue his case in person,
in Tamil. Another Advocate whom the contemner had engaged, Shri S.Ramaswamy,
translated the contemnor's argument in to English for our benefit. One of us,
namely, Varadarajan, J., of course knows Tamil. We reserved our Judgment on
that date and directed that the matter be listed for Judgment on April 26,
1983. We observed that the contemner may, if so advised, tender a written
apology to this Court as also to each of the four Learned Judges of the Madras
High Court against whom he had made unfounded allegations, namely, Justice
Gokulakrishnan, Justice Ramanujam, Justice V. Ramaswami and Justice Shunmugham.
We directed that the apologies be tendered in writing, if at all, by April 7,
1983 and be published on the front page of the two so-called newspapers,
'International Chronicle' and 'Sigappu Nada', which the contemner conducts.
The contemner submitted a written apology to
this Court on March 30, itself, to the following effect:
"I state that I understand that my
writings created an impression in the mind of this Hon'ble Court that the
articles are contemptuous in nature. I am therefore submitting my sincere and
honest apology to this Hon'ble Court and also to Mr. Justice Gokulakrishnan,
Mr. Justice Ramanujam, Mr. Justice Shunmugham of the Madras High Court and I am
extremely sorry for writing the impugned article.
I further undertake not to write anything
against the Madras High Court Judges in my journals 'Sigappu Nada' and
International Chronicle' in future. I also undertake to publish the text of
this affidavit in the above said two journals." How hollow and unmeaning
the apology was, is clear from the fact that within 10 days after submitting
the apology to this Court, 15 the contemner published an article in 'Sigappu
Nada' on April 8, 1983 purporting to give an account of what had transpired in
this Court on March 30, 1983. This is what he says in the said issue of his
"The Court told me We convict you to the
maximum punishment of six months imprisonment and Rs. 1,000 fine; if you tender
apology, we will consider. Under the circumstances, what can I do ? I agreed
for tendering apology.
After this, they told me that I have to
appear before each and every Judges about whom, I have written in my paper and
tender apology. Since, I have accepted for the first apology, I have agreed for
this also." On April 14, 1983 the contemner came out with a front page
article in 'Sigappu Nada' in which he has stated as follows :
"Kailaimannan is ready to go to Jail In
the case filed against me in the Supreme Court, Judgment is to be delivered on
The Judgment has been announced already it
has been published as news item in Newspapers. The Supreme Court has ordered
that I must go to four of the High Court Judges personally and tender apology.
But my conscience does not permit me to tender apology to them.
I have decided to go to Jail, rather than
tendering apology to them.
But my case will make a new turn in India. I
do not wish to say anything about it now. My enemies are jubilant that
'Kailaimannan' will be finished with this. Sigappu Nada will not be published
Even if I go to Jail, Sigappu Nada will be
16 How can the corruption of a Judge be
proved in the Supreme Court. Only if C.B.I. enquiry is ordered on the counter
filed by me, truth will be known. For that, Supreme Court has not done anything
and it is the highest Court.
I have written to the Secretary, Home
Department, Central Government, seeking for permission to file complaints
against two Judges regarding corruption charges.
As soon as sanction is given, I will file the
case against the two Judges in Court and I will prove that those corruption
news published by me are true only.
If I do not prove those charges, it will not
be conducive to my self-respect." The apology tendered by the contemner to
this Court on March 30 was thus a mere device to escape punishment for his
culpable conduct. He has no real repentance for the wanton charges of
corruption made by him against the four Judges of the Madras High Court. He has
committed a breach of the undertaking given by him to this Court to the effect
that he will not make similar charges against the Madras High Court Judges and
that he will publish his apology in the two journals. Far from carrying out
that undertaking, he has ventured into another bout of scurrilous writings
against the High Court Judges. His pose now is of injured innocence.
And, he warns that he will not apologise to
those Judges and that he will persist in his campaign of vilification.
Incidentally, he never apologised to Justice
V. Ramaswami, with or without contrition.
We do not propose to give publicity to the
grossly defamatory allegations made by the contemner, by reproducing them in
our Judgment. The gist of those allegations is that certain Judgments given by
the four Judges of the High Court proceeded from corrupt motives. The contemner
seems to think that he can deter the Judges from discharging their duty by
maligning them before the public, by alleging that their judgments are
influenced by corrupt motives. The fact that the contemner has made allegations
of corruption against the four Judges is not denied by him and indeed, he
stated before us that he wanted an opportunity to establish those 17 allegations.
If we were to grant him such an opportunity, that would have aggravated the
contempt. A reckless and malicious person like the contemner could have
borrowed the support of some disgruntled litigants of his own feather to aid
and abet him. Even then, in order to test the bona fides of the contemner, we
asked him to furnish to us a list of the names of persons, particularly
advocates, whose affidavits he proposed to file in support of the charges of
corruption levelled by him against the High Court Judges. He did scribble a few
names in our presence but that was the end of the matter. He conveniently
forgot all about his tall claim that he will be able to get the affidavits of
even practising lawyers in support of his case. It is clear that the contemner
was only trying to trick the Court into believing that he is not a lone fighter
in his demand for justice against the four dispensers of justice. No one came
forward to support him. No one possibly could. He is not fighting in the cause
of justice. He has become an enemy of the Courts because certain decisions
given by them are not to his liking. "I will leave you alone, if you
decide in my favour. I will charge you of corruption if you dare to decide
against me" -That sums up his attitude to the Courts.
Judges must tread their path of rectitude
uneterred by such threats. This Court is there to protect them from scurrilous
accusations prompted by malice.
The conduct and writings of the contemner
constitute serious interference with the administration of justice, since his
sole object in giving publicity to the defamatory allegations against the High
Court Judges is to deter them from deciding cases against him or against those
in whom he is apparently interested. The apology tendered by him is an eye-wash,
a make-belief, and cannot be accepted. In fact, there is no apology to accept
because he has resiled from it. He is penitent for having apologised to the
High Court Judges whose character he has assailed without the semblance of
sincerity of purpose or purity of means. He is not penitent for his conduct.
We are inclined to believe that the writings
in the two journals conducted by the contemner are inspired by some others who
are working from behind the curtain. They appear to have promoted the contemner
to speak and write with such great venom. But the fact that the contemner is
acting at the behest of undisclosed principals is not an extenuating
circumstance. Indeed, many hirelings are equally despicable, since they charge
their price for blackmail.
18 We hold that the conduct of the contemner
constitutes serious interference with the course of justice. He has exhibited a
dogged determination to pursue the four Judges of the High Court, come what
may. He is not sorry for his ways. He is sorry that he was even apparently
Perhaps, having charged his price, he has to
play to the tune of his masters. Very often, contemners are so contemptible
that it is useless to take any serious notice of their conduct. We are
compelled to take action in this case because nothing else will stop this
systematic campaign of vilification against the defenceless Judges of the High
As we were coming to the end of this
Judgment, a communication was received from before the contemner, which is
filed by his Advocate, Shri S. K. Jain. That communication contains an
additional affidavit affirmed by the contemner at Madras on April 28, 1983. He
says therein :
"I wholeheartedly and sincerely tender
my apologies before this Hon'ble Court if this Hon'ble Court feels that I have
committed contempt by my writings. I also undertake that I will not write
anything about the Hon'ble Judges of the High Court in my journals
"Sigappu Nada,` and International Chronicle" About the other two
conditions, I would like to submit the following few lines for the benevolent
consideration and sympathetic approach of this Hon'ble Court." In
paragraph 5 of the said affidavit he says that he is a freedom fighter, that he
was arrested during freedom movement at the early age of 18 and that he was
detained under MISA during the emergency. "So prison life is not new to
me". After saying all this, he has reiterated in paragraph 7 of the
affidavit that though he is unable to justify his writings and substantiate his
allegations 'at present', he was certain that he will be able to do so. He says
that he has already addressed a letter to the Government of India and the
Government of Tamilnadu for according sanction to prosecute "corrupt
Judges for offences punishable under section 161 IPC and the provisions of the
Prevention of Corruption Act". He winds up the affidavit by saying that he
believes that he will be able to prove that his writings contain the truth. Any
comment on this affidavit is superfluous.
19 For the reasons above said, we convict the
contemner under section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 and sentence him
to suffer simple imprisonment for three months and to pay a fine of Rs. 2,000.
He shall be taken in custody forthwith. If he is suffering from any physical
ailment, care ought to be taken of the state of his body. Those who have
spurred him into this kind of activity will take the care of his mind.
P.B.R. Petition allowed.