Vs. T.R. Dhananjaya  INSC 477 (8 September 1995)
K. Ramaswamy, K. Hansaria B.L. (J)
1996 AIR 137 1995 SCC (6) 249 JT 1995 (7) 484 1995 SCALE (5)245
O R D
S. Swatantra Rao has appeared in person and has filed an affidavit. He is
examined. On his attention being drawn to what finds place in the order of this
Court passed on 1.9.1995, he states that what has been mentioned therein as
regards his meeting one of us (K. Ramaswamy, J.) is correct. On being further
asked as to whether he had met on his own or at the instance of anybody, his
reply is that he had done so on his own and then brings to our notice the
statements made by him in the affidavit.
have perused the affidavit which was verified at Bangalore on 7.9.1995. It has mentioned the "sequence of
events" leading to his meeting Hon'ble Mr. Justice K. Ramaswamy. It states
that having read in the newspaper, while on tour to West Bengal, about the judgment of this Court
imposing sentence on Shri J. Vasudevan, on his return to Bangalore he tried to contact Shri Vasudevan
to console him. He was informed that Shri Vasudevan was not available in Bangalore and that he was still in Delhi.
29.8.1995 it was told to the deponent that Shri Vasudevan was in a shock and
despair and that the sentence imposed would be implemented within a day or two.
This led the deponent to feel that Shri Vasudevan might not bear the punishment
and something untoward could happen during his imprisonment. Being a colleague
and friend of Shri Vasudevan, he could not curb his concern and started
wondering whether something could be done to help him.
affidavit then mentions about the long and cherished desire of the deponent to
meet Hon'ble Mr. Justice K. Ramaswamy to seek his good wishes and blessings whom
he had met about last four decades ago. It is the concern for Shri Vasudevan
and long and cherished desire to meet Hon'ble Ramaswamy, J. which prompted him
to come to Delhi and he left Bangalore by East West Airlines on 30.8.1995
which was scheduled to depart at 8 P.M. As the flight was delayed, he reached Delhi around mid-night and being of the view that if he were to
go to Karnataka Bhavan, he might have to wait for long as its employees would
be asleep, he proceeded to Kanishka, an ITDC Hotel, and checked in. Next day
morning he rang up Shri Vasudevan at Karnataka Bhavan but he was told that Shri
Vasudevan had left the room around 7 A.M. As such there was no chance for him to get in touch with him.
deponent states that thereafter he met Hon'ble Mr. Justice K. Ramaswamy at his
residence and the object of this visit was to seek his Lordship's blessings and
good wishes and also "to beg some mercy for Shri J. Vasudevan". No
sooner did he realise that Hon'ble Mr. Justice K. Ramaswamy resented the prayer
for mercy, than he sincerely apologised and left the place and left for Bangalore in the afternoon.
is reiterated that neither Shri Vasudevan nor anybody else had suggested him to
approach Hon'ble Mr. Justice K. Ramaswamy and it was his "un-subdued
concern as a colleague" which, inter alia, had prompted him to meet Hon'ble
Mr. Justice K. Ramaswamy.
further averments made in the affidavit are that the deponent had no intention
of influencing the judiciary and he sought apology for the embarrassment caused
to Hon'ble Mr. Justice K. Ramaswamy and for the violations made on the judicial
ethics. The affidavit ends by saying that the deponent would be careful in
future and has prayed "to pardon him for the improprieties" committed
under the above circumstances.
affidavit thus is clear on one aspect and the same is that the deponent had not
met one of us (K. Ramaswamy, J) at the instance of Shri Vasudevan. There cannot
however, two opinions that the act of meeting K. Ramaswamy, J. was most
reprehensible and has to be disapproved in the strongest terms. As, however,
the deponent has realised the gross mistake committed by him, we are of the
view that we may not proceed further with the matter and close the same by
ordering that an entry would be made in his CCR about the gross impropriety
committed by him in meeting K. Ramaswamy, J.
have heard Shri Nariman, learned senior counsel for the petitioner, to at least
remit the sentence, for which purpose our mercy jurisdiction has been invoked,
and invoked very forcibly and fervently. We are aware that even under the
proviso to Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, the punishment
awarded may be remitted on apology being made to the satisfaction of the Court.
He mentioned about this legal provision despite the fact that we had invoked
our constitutional power in the matter at hand. We would agree with Shri Nariman
that in an appropriate case the prayer for remission of sentence imposed on a
contemnor may be considered when the Court is satisfied, on the facts of that case,
that it requires to be done.
The entire emphasis of Shri Nariman is that the petitioner had acted the way he
had done on legal advice; more so, in the background of the judgment of the
High Court of Karnataka passed in W.P. No.15458/1991 and batch rendered on
31.3.1994. Shri Nariman has taken us through the relevant part of that judgment
in which the High Court accepted that the claim of one M. Venkatesh was fully
protected, despite the order which had been passed by this Court on 26.7.1993
in I.A. No.3. In the order which we had passed on 24.8.1995 this fact had been
noted, to which our attention was drawn by Shri Santosh Hegde, who had then
appeared for the petitioner. In the order we stated that after Venkatesh had
been promoted nothing could have reasonably stood in the way of T.R. Dhananjaya
to get appointed to the supernumerary post which had been created by the
Bangalore Corporation pursuant to the order passed by this Court. That was,
however, not done. Shri Nariman's submission is that this was not done by the
petitioner, not because he did not desire to comply with this Court's order,
but because he had been advised by his counsel to act the way he subsequently
did and which ultimately resulted in the proceeding dated July 10, 1995, the
purport of which has been noted by us in the order in question.
Nariman strenuously urges that the petitioner's sentence for imprisonment be
remitted because he acted under wrong legal advice, and not mala fide. It may
be pointed out that in our order we had not attributed mala fide to the
petitioner but had concluded that he was quality of willful disobedience. As to
the advice by the counsel, which is said to be available in the file, may we
mention, as noted in our earlier order, that a submission had been made before
this Court itself on May 10, 1995 by Shri Hegde to grant time till after
vacation for implementation of the order. We had allowed this prayer. According
to us, therefore, nothing was left except to implement the order which had not
fact that the order has been implemented subsequently has no relevance.
Nariman urges that in the aforesaid background his submission is only to remit
the sentence in exercise of our mercy jurisdiction. It is mentioned that the
petitioner has only few years to retire and imprisonment would affect him
adversely. According to us, this cannot be a ground to show mercy because in
every case of government servant this plea would be advanced and in no case a
government servant who is found to have wilfully disobeyed the orders of the
court would be sentenced to imprisonment.
may be stated that while awarding the sentence of imprisonment we had considered
the submission of Shri Hegde to show leniency so far as the question of
sentence is concerned and it was stated in the order passed on August 25, 1995
there were no "extenuating circumstances", as after promoting Venkatesh
nothing at all could have reasonably stood in the way of T.R. Dhananjaya to get
appointed to the supernumerary post of Addl. Chief Engineer created by the
Coming to the mercy jurisdiction, let it be first stated that while awarding
sentence on a contemnor, the court does so to uphold the majesty of law, and
not with any idea of vindicating the prestige of the Court or to uphold its
dignity. It is really to see that unflinching faith of the people in the courts
remain intact. But, if the order of even the highest court of the land is
allowed to be wilfully disobeyed and a person found guilty of contempt is let
off by remitting sentence on plea of mercy, that would send wrong signals to
everybody in the country. It has been a sad experience that due regard is not
always shown even to the order of the highest court of the country. Now, if
such orders are disobeyed, the effect would be that people would lose faith in
the system of administration of justice and would desist from approaching the
court, by spending time, money and energy to fight their legal battle. If in
such a situation mercy is shown, the effect would be that people would not
knock the door of the courts to seek justice, but would settle score on the
streets, where muscle power and money power would win, and the weak and the
meek would suffer. That would be a death knell to the rule of law and social
justice would receive a fatal blow. This Court cannot be a party to it and,
harsh though it may look, it is duty bound to award proper punishment to uphold
the rule of law, how so high a person may be. It may be stated, though it is
trite, that nobody is above the law. The fact that the petitioner is an I.A.S.
officer is of no consequence, so far as the sentence is concerned. We would
indeed think that if a high officer indulges in an act of contempt, he deserves
to be punished more rigorously, so that nobody would take to his head to
violate court's order. May we also say that a public officer, being a part of
Government, owes higher obligation than an ordinary citizen to advance the
cause of public interest, which requires maintenance of rule of law, to protect
which contemnors are punished.
the aforesaid circumstances, we are constrained to reject the prayer fervently
advanced by Shri Nariman in his usual vehemence and dismiss the petitions.