In Re Vs.
Ajay Kumar Pandey,  INSC 489 (25 September 1998)
M.K.Mukherjee Dr. A.S.Anand.J.
alleged contemner-Ajay Kumar Pandey, a practising advocate, filed a criminal
complaint against an Advocate Mr. Mahesh Gir and an Additional District Judge,
Ms. Saroj Bala, then posted as VII Additional District Judge, Lucknow, under
Sections 499 and 500 IPC, after first serving them with a notice demanding
compensation for defaming him. The allegations made in that complaint are not
relevant for our purpose. That complaint was dismissed on 16.11.1994. He
thereafter filed a criminal Revision in the High Court which was also dismissed
by a learned single Judge of the High Court (Virendra Saran,J) on 15.2.1995.
dismissing the revision petition, the learned single Judge inter alia observed
:- "It is well settled that if the veiled object of a lame prosecution is
to disgrace, humiliate or cause harassment to the accused, the High Court must
put an end to the mischief by quashing such criminal proceedings. The facts on
the record of the instant case give a horrendous account of a framed-up case
against a responsible member of the lower judiciary holding the post of an
Additional Sessions Judge at Lucknow.............
appears that the aim of the applicant is to malign the learned judge (Smt.Saroj
Bala) and hold her at ranson. The applicant emphatically and repeatedly read
out the lewd passages from his deposition while arguing the revision, but
recitals are not worth reproduction in the judgment.
it to observe that the arguments of the applicant, so vehement and pungent,
marked with sarcasm and sneer, do not impart any strength to his case which is
inherently unbelievable. They are submissions directed more towards vilification
than substantiation of the pivotal points of the case. I was constrained to ask
the applicant not to make savage additions to the evidence and show restraint
in his colloquy." The alleged contemner, thereafter, filed Special Leave
Petition (Crl.) Nos.819-820 of 1996 against the judgment of Virendra Saran, J
appears that the alleged contemner had filed another complaint on 12.9.1994
under Sections 500 and 504 IPC against seven advocates namely
Prakash Narayan Awasthi
Pankaj Sinha and
which it was alleged that those advocates had made defamatory imputations
regarding the relationship between him and Ms.Saroj Bala, Add1. District Judge.
In that complaint an application giving a list of 31 advocates for being
summoned as witnesses was filed. That application was rejected by the Trial
Court. He, therefore, filed Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No. 4114 of 1995
against that order.
Kumar Pandey, the alleged contemner has also filed following Contempt Petitions
(Cr1.) in this Court :
Contempt Petition (Cr1.) Dy. No.16199/95 filed on 28th Oct. 1995 Against Mr. Justice Virendra saran, Judge, High Court of Allahabad,
Contempt Petition (Cr1.) Dy. No.17021/95 filled on 8th Nov. 1995. The respondents in the petition are:
I Ms. Saroj
Bala, IV Add1. District Judge, Lucknow.
Udai L Raj, V A C J, Lucknow.
R P Misra, VI Add1. C J M.
Contempt Petition (Cr1.) Dy.No.17922/95. filled on 9th Nov., 1995 against the following respondents:
J C Mishra, Distt. Judge, Lucknow.
K N Ojha, II A D J, Lucknow.
Shailendra Saxena, III A D J., Lucknow.
B N Pandey, Special Judge, Lucknow.
the SLPs and contempt petitions were listed before this bench, it was noticed
that the language used in the memorandum of petitions was wholly objectionable,
unparliamentary and abusive. By way of illustration, we may refer to the list
of dates, at internal pages 2-3 of S.L.P.(Cr1.) No. 4114 of 1995. The language
used by the petitioner is in the following terms:- "It will not be out of
place to mention here that an other then Magistrate Sh. Udai Raj had
fraudulently, corruptly with the collusion of Ms.Saroj Bala and others
dismissed the complaint which was filed on 12.9.94 by passing the order in
complaint case No.451/94 the complaint which had been filed on 19.9.94.
petitioner filed a criminal revision No.289/94 in the Hon'ble High Court,
Allahabad, Lucknow Bench, Lucknow on 14.12.94 and challenged the order dated
16.11.94 passed in complaint case No. 451/94.
the most important to mention here that in complaint case No. 451/94 an
application u/s 202 Cr. P.C. had also been moved and the same is still pending.
The petitioner raised the law point regarding the summoning of witnesses in
enquiry u/s 202 Cr.P.C. in Criminal REvision No. 289/94 but the Allahabad High
Court never decided the revision on its merits and Mr.Virendra Saran, the Hon'ble
Judge, who heard the arguments fraudulently, forgedly and maliciously dismissed
the revision." (underlined by us) In the memo of the petitions, similar
expressions in more intemperate language casting aspersions on the conduct of
various judicial officers and attributing motives to them in the discharge of
their judicial functions have been used.
refrain from reproducing all such passages, although we drew the pointed
attention of the alleged contemner to the same. He has attacked the impartiality
of the named judges in most indecent and intemperate language. There is hardly
any criticism of the "judgment" and all that the contemner seems to
have done is to criticism and condemn the Judge by attributing motives and
showering abuses on each one of the judges who dealt with his cases at one
state or the other.
On 15th December, 1996 the following order was made by the
Bench :- "In all these petitions, we find that attack in indecent, wild,
intemperate and even abusive language on the named Judges has been made at
various places in each one of the petitions. The petitioner, who is an
advocate, has permitted himself the liberty of using such expressions, which
prima facie tend to scandalize the court in relation to judicial matters and
thus have the tendency to interfere with the administration of justice. We are
inclined to initiate contempt proceedings against the petitioner, but on his
request grant him six weeks time to delate all the objectionable expressions
used in the petitions and file fresh petitions. He shall also remove the other
defects, as pointed out in the office report when he files the fresh petitions.
If the fresh petitions are filed, the same shall be listed after eight weeks.
these petitions shall be put up for drawing up contempt proceedings against the
petitioner, after eight weeks.
hoped that he would realise the seriousness of the situation and remove all the
objectionable expressions from the memorandum of petitions but instead of
deleting those objectionable expressions, on the same day, he filled Cr1 M.P.No.
132 of 1996 in which inter alia he stated :- "4. That today, the matter
was listed in court No.9 alongwith all petitions at S1.No. 28 and 42 and when
the petitioner tried to start his argument the court openly harassed him and
compelled him to withdraw the petition or remove all the facts but the
petitioner refused to do so in view of the fact that he has only written the
facts according to Section 167, 219, 480 and 463 alongwith 120-B the IPC and section
44 and 165 of the Evidence Act alongwith Section 2-C and Section 16 and 12 and
15 of the Contempt of Court Act and the Indian Constitution.
the Court is not allowed the petitioner to submit his argument and passed an
order to remove the all facts from the petition and file the fresh petitions
and also ordered for listing the matter after 8 weeks. Thereafter, the
petitioner mentioned and also tried to give in writing that he is not in a
position to remove anything and file fresh petitions in view of the fact that
he wrote only truth and the court is bound to hear the petitions and decide the
same according to the constitution and contempt of Court Acts and other laws as
challenged by the petitioner but the court without saying anything retired to
the petitioner is not in position to remove anything and the deliberate in
Justice, fraud, cheating etc. had been done by the contemnors for concealing
their nefarious acts and even they had gone to this extent to destroy the
judicial records and fabricated some judicial papers.
under lined by us) Thus it is seen that instead of removing the objectionable
expressions, which prima facie have the tendendy to scandalize the court/courts
in relation to judicial matters and have the tendency to interfere with the due
administration of justice and which expressions per-se are an attack on various
judges, who had dealt with the complaint filed by him at the original or the revisional
stage, in most indecent, wild, intemperate and abusive language, he asserted
that he was not obliged to remove any of these passages and that this court was
'bound' to hear him on merits. He declined to remove the objectionable
expressions and insisted on being heard.
this adamant and defiant attitude of Ajay Kumar Pandey, on 20th February, 1996
the Bench directed that a Rule be issued against him asking him to show cause
why he should not be punished for committing criminal contempt of Court for the
use of intemperate language and casting unwarranted aspersions on various
judicial officers and attributing motives to them while discharging their
judicial functions. He was directed to file his reply within 8 weeks.
is how the contempt proceeding (Contempt Petition Cr1.No.2/96) came to
registered against the alleged contemner in this Court.
Special Leave Petition (Cr1.) No. 4114 of 1995 and the two other Special Leave
Petitions alongwith some misc. Petitions were dismissed by the Bench both on
account of the objectionable language used in the memorandum of those petitions
as also on merits.
alleged contemner did not file his objections or reply to the Rule in the
Contempt proceedings and instead filed two applications seeking recall/review
of the order dated 20th
(supra). dismissing S.L.P.(Cr1.) No. 4114/95, Criminal Miscellaneous Petitions
Nos.6242-6243/95, and S.L.P. (Cr1.) 819-820 of 1996 as also against the Rule
issued to him to show cause why he should not be punished for committing
contempt of court. We considered the two applications for recall/review and by
our order dated 9th August, 1996 found that there was no merit in those
applications and felt pained to notice that even those application bristled
with scandalous remarks and were couched in objectionable language and that the
alleged contemner, was persistent in his attitude to undermine the majesty of
law and bring the administration of justice into disrepute. The alleged contemner
appearing in person on that date made a request that his cases may be
transferred to another Bench as he did not "wish to appear before this
Bench". His prayer was rejected by us not only on the ground that the
prayer itself was contumacious in character but also because a litigant can not
be permitted to choose his forum since the case stood assigned to this Bench
and we found no justification to withdraw from the Bench either. Since, the
alleged contemner had not filed his reply to the show case notice, the Bench as
a matter of indulgence, granted him yet another opportunity to file his reply, if
any, within six weeks and adjourned the proceedings to 27th September, 1996.
Bench also requested the Solicitor General of India to assist the Court in the
contempt proceedings either himself or by nominating any other law officer.
the fact that on 9th Aug. 1996 Ajay Kumar Pandey had been informed of the date
of hearing and was directed to remain present on 27.9.1996 and file his reply
by that date, he instead of appearing in person on 27.9.1996, filed yet another
application alongwith copies of certain documents seeking recall of the order
dated 9th Aug., 1996. On 27.9.1996, Mr. K.N.Bhatt, learned A.S.G. appeared to
assist the Court and asserted that the application was misconceived and the
alleged contemner was trying to browbeat the court and misconstruing the
indulgence being shown to him. He emphasised that not only has the attitude of
alleged contemner been totally defiant but that he had lost all sense of
propriety in filing the applications and Special Leave Petitions couched in
most objectionable language and creating an impression that he considered the
law as 'subservient' to him. Mr.Bhat submitted that various applications filed
by the contemner in this court also had, as a matter of fact, aggravated the
contempt committed by him and he needed to be suitably punished.
27.9.1996 while dealing with the applications filed by the contemner, the
following order was made :- We have examined the application and find that the
prayer for recall of the order is misconceived for more than one reasons. The
order dated 9th Aug.,
1996 is an order in
continuation of the order dated 20th February, 1996, the prayer to recall which has already been rejected. By
the order dated 9th Aug., 1996 the review petitions filed by the respondent
were also dismissed. The prayer for recall of the order dated 9th Aug., 1996 under the circumstances has no
merit and is rejected.
the respondent, Ajay Kumar Pandey, despite directions is not present we direct
that his presence be secured by issuance of bailable warrants in the sum of Rs.
5,000/- with one surety of the like amount for a date to be fixed by the
registry, to the satisfaction of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Lucknow."
The alleged contemner as already noticed had not appeared in the Court on 27th September, 1996, but it appears that he was present
in the Court premises as soon after the above order was made, he filed an
application on that very day explaining the reasons for his absence and praying
for recall of the bailable warrants. The application was supported by an
affidavit. Since on the next date he appeared in the Court, the bailable
warrants were recalled.
case wad, thereafter, posted to 2nd December, 1996 but it appears that the
alleged contemner who was appearing in person had no notice of that date and
the Bench therefore directed that fresh notice be issued to him for his
personal appearance as well as for filing his reply, if any.
also directed that in the notice it shall be indicated that the alleged contemner
should file reply to the show cause notice within six weeks and that it was to
be considered as the final opportunity granted to him for that purpose. The
case was adjourned to 22.1.1997. In the meantime, it transpires from the record
that the contemner, filed an application addressed to the Hon'ble Chief Justice
of India, seeking transfer of the case from this Bench to some other Bench.
According to the Office Report dated 22.1.1997, that application was rejected
by the learned Chief Justice of India. The alleged contemner however, despite
notice did not appear in the Court on 22.1.1997. The Bench was, therefore, left
with no other option except to secure his presence by issuance of non-bailable
warrants and accordingly non-bailable warrants returnable on 27.2.1997 were
directed to be issued. When the case came up for consideration on 3rd March, 1997, the respondent was produced in
custody in Court. The order dated 3rd March, 1997 inter alia records :
Pandey was asked if he was making any prayer for release on bail and he
submitted that he cannot provide any surety at Delhi. We, therefore, consider it appropriate, in the interest of
justice to direct that respondent, Shri Ajay Kumar Pandey shall be released on
bail on his furnishing personal bail bond in the sum of Rs.5,000/- to the
satisfaction of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Lucknow, where he may be produced for the said purpose. The learned
Chief Judicial Magistrate, Lucknow shall release him on bail on his personal
bond of Rs. 5,000/- after obtaining an undertaking from him for his appearance
in this court on the next date of hearing which is fixed as 25.4.1997, on which
date final arguments in this contempt case shall be heard in this case.
respondent Ajay Kumar Pandey was asked if he required the assistance of a
counsel, so that the services of the counsel could be provided to him but he
has stated that he does not need the assistance of any counsel. He further
stated that he does not wish to argue the matter before this bench. He was
apprised that his prayer for transfer of the case to some other bench has been
rejected by the learned Chief Justice.
case, was thereafter, adjourned from time to time and on 22nd August, 1997,
following order was made when the alleged contemner once again remained absent
despite service :
service respondent, Sh. Ajay Kumar Pandey, is not present. On 3rd March, 1997 we had granted him final
opportunity, in the hope that better sense may prevail, to file his reply to
the notice to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt of Court
and to argue the matter either in person or through any counsel in the contempt
matter. He has neither filed the reply nor is represent in Court personally or
through counsel. Mr. K.N.Bhat, learned Additional Solicitor General submits that
this action on the part of Shri Ajay Kumar Pandey aggravates his contamacious behaviour.
Additional Solicitor General further by reference to the record, submits that
the respondent has been granted ample opportunities is required to be given to
him to appear either in person or through counsel or to file a reply. We find
considerable force in the submission of learned Additional Solicitor General.
have heard the learned Additional Solicitor General on merits in the contempt
matter. Orders reserved." At the outset, we wish to emphasise that this
Court being the Supreme Court of the country, has not only the right to protect
itself from being scandalized or denigrated but it also has the right,
jurisdiction and the obligation to protect the High Courts and the Subordinate
Courts in the country from being insulted, abused or in any other was
denigrated. Any action on the part of a litigant-be he a lawyer appearing in
person - which has the tendency to interfere with or obstruct the due course of
justice has to be dealt with sternly and firmly to uphold the majesty of law.
No one can be permitted to intimidate or terrorise judges by making scandalous
unwarranted and baseless imputations against them in the discharge of their
judicial functions so as to secure orders which the litigant 'wants'.
subordinate judiciary forms the very backbone of administration of justice.
This Court would come down with a heavy hand for preventing the judges of the
subordinate judiciary or the High Court from being subjected to scurrilous and
indecent attacks, which scandalise or have the tendency to scandalise, or lower
or have the tendency to lower the authority of any court as also all such
actions which interfere or then to interfere with the due course of any judicial
proceedings or obstruct or tend to obstruct the administration of justice in
any other manner. No affront to the majesty of law can be permitted. The
fountain of justice cannot be allowed to be polluted by disgruntled litigants.
The protection is necessary for the courts to enable them to discharge their
judicial functions without fear.
rule of law is the foundation of a democratic society. The judiciary is the
guardian of the rule of law and if the judiciary is to perform its duties and
functions effectively and remain true to the spirit with which they are
sacredly entrusted, the dignity and authority of the courts has to be respected
and protected at all costs. It is for this reason that the courts are entrusted
with the extraordinary power of punishing those for contempt of court who
indulge in acts whether inside or outside the courts, which tend to undermine
the authority of the courts and bring them in disrepute and disrespect thereby
obstructing them from discharging their judicial duties without fear or favour.
This power is exercised by the courts not to vindicate the dignity and honour
of any individual Judge who is personally attacked or scandalised but with a
view to uphold the majesty of law and the administration of justice.
foundation of the judiciary is the trust and the confidence of the people in
its ability to deliver fearless and impartial justice and as such no action can
be permitted which may shake the very foundation itself.
Contempt' is defined in Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 and reads
"criminal contempt" means the publication (whether by words, spoken
or written, or by sings, or by visible representations, or otherwise) of any
matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which –
Scandalizes or tends to scandalize, or lowers or tends to lower the authority
of, any court; or
or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial
or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the
administration of justice in any other manner."
definition is self explanatory. Scandalising the Judges or the Courts tends to
bring the authority and administration or law into disrepute and is an affront
to the majesty of law. Such acts constitute criminal contempt of court. No one
can be permitted to foul the fountain of justice. If the authority of the court
is undermined or impeded by acts or publications, the fountain of justice would
get sullied creating distrust and disbelief in the minds of the litigant public
and the right thinking public at large. Indeed everybody is entitled to express
his honest opinion about the correctness or legality of a judgment or sentence
or an order of a Court. Objective criticism is permissible provided it is made
with detachment in a dignified language and respectful tone. The liberty of
expression cannot be treated as a licence to scandalise the court and instead
of criticising the judgment to criticise the judge who delivered it.
& Ors. (1991) 4 SCC 406, this Court opined :
definition of criminal contempt is wide enough to include any act by a person
which would tend to interfere with the administration of justice or which would
lower the authority of court. The public have a vital stake in effective and
orderly administration of justice. The court has the duty of protecting the
interest of the community in the due administration of justice and, so, it is
entrusted with the power to commit for contempt of court, not to protect the
dignity of the court against insult or injury, but, to protect that to
vindicate the right of the public so that the administration of justice is not
perverted, prejudiced, obstructed or interfered with.
That the "publication" contemplated by Section 2 (c) of Contempt of
Courts Act, 1971 (supra) includes pleadings affidavits etc. which are filed in
the Court, is no longer in doubt.
advocate whose client had been convicted by the learned judge of the Special
Court at Dehradun, was required to appear before the learned Judge to make his
submissions on the question of 'sentence' to be imposed on the accused upon his
being found guilty of an offence under Section 5(2) of the Prevention of
Corruption Act by the Court. The learned advocate appeared in a
shirt-and-trouser-outfit in disregard of the rule requiring him to appear only
in court attire when appearing in his professional capacity. The learned Judge
asked him to appear in the prescribed formal attire for being heard in his
professional capacity. The advocate apparently took exception and left the
Court. Some other advocate appeared on behalf of the accused. The learned Judge
of the Special Court imposed a sentence of 4 years' RI
on the accused. So far as the Court of the learned Special Judge was concerned,
as the judgment had been pronounced, nothing more remained to be done by that
Court. The appellant, a senior advocate of long standing, however, made a
written application before the learned Judge of the Special Court couched in
scurrilous language making imputation that the Judge was a "corrupt
Judge" and adding that he was "contaminating the seat of
justice". A threat was held out that a complaint was being lodged to
higher authorities that he was corrupt and did not deserve to be retained in
service. The offending portion of the application inter alia read :
am making a complaint against you to the highest authorities in the country,
that you are corrupt and do not deserve to be retained in service. The earlier
people like you are bundled As for quantum of sentence, I will never bow down
before you. You may award the maximum sentence. Anyway, you should feel ashamed
of yourself that you are contaminating the seat of justice." On Rule being
issued in suo motu contempt proceedings, the contemner was punished and
sentenced under the contempt of Courts Act. Before this court, questioning his
conviction and sentence, the contemner advocate filed an appeal and at the same
time tendered his apology. Rejecting the apology, this Court observed :
do not think that merely because the appellant has tendered his apology we
should set aside the sentence and allow him to go unpunished.
all that a person wanting to intimidate a Judge by making the grossest
imputations against him has to do, is to go ahead and scandalize him, and later
on tender a formal empty apology which costs him practically nothing. If Such
an apology were to be accepted, as a rule, and not as an exception, we would in
fact be virtually issuing a 'licence' to scandalize courts and commit contempt
of court with impunity. It will be rather difficult to persuade members of the
Bar, who care for their self-respect, to join the judiciary if they are
expected to pay such a price for it. And no sitting Judge will feel free to decide
any matter as per the dictates of his conscience on account of the fear of
being scandalized and persecuted by an advocate who does not mind making
reckless allegations if the Judge goes against his wishes. If this situation
were to be countenanced, advocates who can cow down the Judges, and make them
fall in line with their wishes, by threats of character assassination and
persecution, will be preferred by the litigants to the advocates who are
mindful of professional ethics and believe in maintaining the docorum of
courts" and such course cannot be permitted.
ours) Again, in Re: Shri Sanjiv Dutta JT (1995) 3 SC 538, a three Judge Bench
of this Court, while dealing with an affidavit filed by a public functionary
causing aspersions on the Court, which (affidavit) had the tendency to malign
the Court, while assailing the correctness of an order made in a writ petition
filed in this Court, held the contemner guilty of criminal contempt of court
attribution of motives, vituperative terrorism and defiance are no methods to
correct the errors of the courts. In the discharge of their functions the
courts have to be allowed to impartial adjudication will be an impossibility.
is a Constitutional government based on the rule of law. The Constitution
entrusts the task of interpreting and administering the law to the judiciary
whose view on the subject is made legally final and binding on all till it is
changed by a higher court or by a permissible legislative measure. Those living
and functioning under the Constitution have to accept and submit to this
obligation of respecting the constitutional authority of the courts. Under a
Constitutional government, such final authority has to vest in some
institution. Otherwise, there will be a chaos. The court's verdict has to be
respected not necessarily by the authority of its reason but always by reason
of its authority. Any conduct designed to or suggestive of challenging this
crucial balance of power advised by the Constitution is an attempt to subvert
the rule of law and an invitation to anarchy.
for reasons which can only be attributed to his misconception of his role and
over-Zealousness to assert himself and his side of the matter intentionally
overstepped his limits and conveniently ignored the above legal position, and adrogated
to himself, in substance, the role of a judge in his own cause. He has thus in
effect not only challenged the jurisdiction of the Court to discharge its
functions but also its authority to do so." In Re:R.L.Ahuja : 1993
Supp.(4) SCC 446, the respondent-contemner cast unfounded and unwarranted
aspersions and made scurrilous and indecent attacks against some of the Judges
of this Court who had earlier dealt with his case in wild, intemperate and even
abusive language in the memorandum of writ petition and in a representation
sent to the President of India. This Court while convicting and sentencing the contemner
for committing criminal contempt of court observed :
passages in the memorandum of the writ petition and the letter addressed to the
President of India attack the integrity and fairness of the Judges. The remarks
made by the contemner are disparaging in character and derogatory to the
dignity of the Court and besides scandalizing the Court in relation to judicial
maters have the tendency to shake the confidence of the public in the apex
court." The tendency of maligning the reputation of judicial officers by
disgruntled elements who the increase and it is high me that serious note is
taken of the same. No latitude can be given to a litigant to browbeat the
court. Merely because a party chooses to appear in person, it does not give him
a licence to indulge in making such aspersions as have the tendency to scandalise
the court in relation to judicial matters.
Emphasis ours ) The contemner in the present case let alone showing any remorse
or regret has adopted an arrogant and contemptuous attitude..............
course, the dignity of the court is not so brittle as to be shattered by a
stone thrown by a mad man, but when the court finds that the contemner has been
reckless. persistent and guilty of undermining the dignity of the court and his
action is, motivated, deliberate and designed, the law of contempt of court
must be activised." Thus, it is now settled that abuses, attribution of
motives, vituperative terrorism and scurrilous and indecent attacks on the
impartiality of the judges in the pleadings, applications or other documents
filed in the Court or otherwise published which have the tendency to scandalise
and undermine the dignity of the court and the magesty of law amounts to
criminal contempt of court.
a litigant as also his lawyer have the freedom of expression and liberty to
project their case forcefully, it must be remembered that they must while
exercising that liberty maintain dignity, decorum and order in the court
proceeding. Liberty of free expression cannot be
permitted to be treated as a licence to make reckless imputations against the
impartiality of the judges deciding the case.
criticism of the judgment has to be in a dignified and temperate language and
without any malice.
vs. Hon'ble the Chief Justice of India, (1996) 5 SCC 216 this court observed :-
...."Advocacy touches and asserts the primary value of freedom of
expression. It is a practical manifestation of the principle of arguments
encourages the development of judicial dignity, forensic skills of advocacy and
enables protection of fraternity equality and justice. It plays its part in
helping to secure the Freedom of expression, therefore, is one of the basic
conditions for the progress of advocacy and for the development of every man
including legal fraternity practising the profession of law. Freedom of expression,
therefore is vital to the maintenance of free society. It is essential to the
rule of law and liberty of the citizens. The advocate or the party appearing in
person, they equally owe countervailing duty to maintain proceedings or
judicial process. The liberty of free expression is not to be confounded or
confused with licence to make unfounded allegations against any institution,
much less the judiciary.'..................
other words, imputing partiality, corruption, bias, improper motives to a judge
is of the court. Even imputation of lack of discharge of his official duties
amounts to contempt. The gravamen of the offence is that of lowering his
dignity or authority or an affront to the majesty of justice. When the contemner
challenges the authority of the court. he interferes with the performance of
duties of judge's office or judicial process or administration of justice or
generation or production of tendency bringing the judge of judiciary into
contempt." (Emphasis supplied) Does the law give a lawyer, unsatisfied with
the result of a case, any licence to permit himself the liberty of scandalising
a court by casting unwarranted imputations against the judge in discharge of
his judicial functions? Does the lawyer enjoy any special immunity under the
Contempt of Court Act, where he is found to have committed a gross contempt of
court? The answer has to be an emphatic NO:
Mohan Das vs. Advocate General. Orissa, 1957 SCR 167, this court observed :
member of the Bar undoubtedly owes a duty to his client and must place before
the Court on behalf of his client. He may even submit that a particular order
is not correct and may ask for a review of that order. At the same time, a
member of the Bar is an officer of the Court and owes a duty to the Court in
which he is appearing. He must uphold the dignity and decorum of the Court and
must not do anything to bring the Court itself into disrepute. The limits of
propriety when he made imputations of open Court. In suggesting that the Munsif
followed no principle in his orders, the the Munsif had merely upheld an order
of his predecessor on the preliminary point of jurisdiction and Court fees,
which order had been upheld by the High Court in revision. Scandalizing the
Court in such manner is really polluting the very fount of justice; such
conduct as the appellant indulged in was not a matter between an individual
member of the Bar and a member of the judicial service; it brought into
disrepute the whole administration of justice. From that point of view, the
conduct of the appellant was highly reprehensible." In M.B.Sanghi,
Advocate vs. High Court of Punjab & Haryana, (1991) 3 SCC 600, this Court
took notice of the growing tendency amongst some of the Advocates of adopting a
defiant attitude and casting aspersions baving failed to persuade the Court to
grant an order in the terms they expect. Holding the Advocate guilty of
contempt, Ahmadi,J observed:
tendency of maligning the reputation of Judicial Officers by disgruntled
elements who fail to secure the desired order is ever on the increases and it
is high time it is nipped in the bud. And, when a member of the profession
resorts to such cheap gimmicks with a view to browbeating the Judge into
submission, it is all the more painful. When there is a deliberate attempt to scandalise
which would shake the confidence of the litigating public in the system the
damage caused is not only to the reputation of the concerned Judge but also to
the fair name of the judiciary.
threats, abrasive behaviour, use of disrespectful language and at times blatant
condemnatory attacks like the present one are often designedly employed with a
view to taming a judge into submission to secure a desired order.
cases raise larger issues touching the independence of not only the concerned
Judge but the entire institution. The foundation of our system which is based
on the independence and impartiality of those who man it will be shaken if
disparaging and derogatory remarks are made against the Presiding Judicial
Officers with impunity. It is high time that we realise that the much cherished
judicial independence has to be protected not only from the executive or the
legislature but also from those who are an integral part of the system." (
Emphasis supplied ) Again, in Re:Vinay Chandra Mishra (1995) 2 SCC 548, this
resent the questions asked by a Judge, to be disrespectful to him, to question
his authority to ask the questions, to shout at him, to threaten him with
transfer and impeachment, to use insulting language and abuse him, to dictate
the order that he should pass, to create scene in the court, to address him by
losing temper are all acts calculated to interfere with and obstruct the course
of justice. Such acts tend to overawe the court and to prevent it from performing
its duty to administer justice. Such conduct brings the authority of the court
and the administration of justice into disrespect and disrepute and undermines
and erodes the very foundation of the judiciary by shaking the confidence of
the people in the ability of the court to deliver free and fair justice.
stance taken by the contember is that he was carforming his duty as an
outspoken and fearless member of the Bar. He seems to be labouring under a
is not outspokenness and arrogance is not fearlessness. use of intemperate
language is not assertion of right nor is a threat an argument.
is not servility and courtesy and politeness are not lack of dignity.
Self-restraint and respectful attitude towards the court, presentation of
correct facts and law with a balaced mind and without overstatement,
suppression, distortion or embellishment are requisites of good advocacy. A
lawyer has to be a gentleman first. His most valuable asset is the respect and
goodwill he enjoys among his colleagues and in the Court." In the instant
case, from a perusal of the memorandum of various petitions filed by the contemner
in this court and the language used therein, it is apparent that he has cast
aspersions on each and every learned Judge who in the discharge of his judicial
functions decided the matter not liked to by the alleged contemner at one stage
or the other.
aspersions cast by him undoubtedly have the tendency to scandalise the Court.
The alleged contemner has been attempting to brow beat the learned subordinate
Judges as well as the learned Judge of the High Court and cause interference in
the administration of justice. Even in this Court, after the Rule was issued to
him, he tried to browbeat the court.
filed an application stating that since he had file a contempt petition against
the Judges constituting the Division Bench which had issued Rule against him,
this Bench should transfer the case. It was an obviously motivated action on
his part to intimidate the Bench. He did file the contempt petitions again both
the Judges constituting the Bench. Those petitions were dismissed by a Bench
comprising of Hon'ble Mr.
J.S.Verma (as the Hon'ble Chief Justice then was) and Hon'ble Mr. Justice B.N.Kirpal
by the following order :- "We regret to find that the petitioner who is a practising
lawyer of some standing has chosen to resort to such a proceeding which, in our
view, is misconceived. We find no merit in the same, but before dictating this
order, we have tried to explain this position to the petitioner with the hope
that he will appreciate that as a member of the Bar, he is expected to utilise
his time in a better manner to assist in the administration of justice.
contempt petition is dismissed." The alleged contemner in this case has
been making continuous attempts to subvert the course of justice in whichever
court his case was. He has been acting not only as if he is above the law but
as if he is law unto himself. Notwithstanding his own assessment of his 'merit
and ' competence' as stated by him in the memo of petitions, the alleged contemner
appears to be blissfully ignorant of the role of a lawyer and the law relating
to grafting of pleadings - which must be precise and not scandalous or abusive.
It is sad that by filing the applications, and the petition, as a party in
person, couched in very objectionable language, he has permitted himself the
liberty of indulging in an action, which does little credit to the noble
profession to which he belongs. An advocate has no wider protection than a
layman when he commits an act which amounts to contempt of court. It is most undefitting
for an advocate to make imputations against the Judge only because he does not
get the expected result, which according to him is the fair and reasonable
result available to him. Judges cannot be intimidated to seek favourable
orders. Only because a lawyer appears as a party in person, he does not get a licence
to commit contempt of the court by intimidating the Judges or scandalising the
courts. He cannot use language, either in the pleadings or during arguments,
which is either intemperate or unparliamentary and which has the tendency to
interfere in the administration of justice and undermine the dignity of the
court and the majesty of law. These safeguards are not for the protection of
any Judge individually but are essential for maintaining the dignity and
decorum of the Courts and for upholding the majesty of law. Judges and courts
are not unduly sensitive or touchy to fair and reasonable criticism of their
judgments. Fair comments, even if, out-spoken, but made without any malice and
without attempting to impair the administration of justice and made in good
faith in proper language do not attract any punishment for contempt of court.
However, when from the criticism a deliberate, motivated and calculated attempt
is discernible to bring down the image of judiciary in the estimation of the
public or to impair the administration of justice or tend to bring the
administration of justice into disrepute the courts must bitter themselves to
uphold their dignity and the majesty of law. The alleged contemner, has
undoubtedly committed contempt of the Court by the use of the objectionable and
intemperate language. No system of justice can tolerate such unbridled licence
on the part of a person, be he a lawyer, to permit himself the liberty of scandalising
the Court by casting unwarranted, uncalled for and unjustified aspersions on
the integrity, ability, impartiality or fairness of a Judge in the discharge of
his judicial functions, as it undoubtedly amounts to an interference with the
due course of administration of justice. No litigant, even a lawyer appearing
in person in his own cause, can be permitted to overstep the limits of fair, bona
fide and reasonable criticism of the judgment and bring the courts generally
into disrepute or attribute motives to the Judges rendering the judgment.
Perversity, calculated to undermine the judicial system and the prestige of the
court, cannot be permitted for otherwise the very foundation of the judicial
system is bound to be undermined and weakened. Liberty of free expression is
not to be confused with a licence to make unfounded, unwarranted and
irresponsible aspersions against the Judges or the Courts in relation to
judicial matters. In the established facts of this case, we hold that the
alleged contemner has committed gross contempt of court and convict him
next question before us is with regard to the punishment to be imposed upon the
tendency of maligning the requtation of judicial officers by disgruntled
elements who fail to secure an order which they desire or which they expect is
no the increase. It is unfortunate that even some disgruntled lawyers also
indulge in the same objectionable activities. No latitude can be given to a
litigant who attempts to browbeat the court. In the instant case, the contemner,
let alone showing any remorse or regret adopted an arrogant, defiant and
contemptuous attitude. The contemner has been reckless, persistent and guilty
of undermining the dignity of the courts and his action are motivated,
deliberate and designed. Sympathy in a case like this would be totally
misplaced. Mercy has no meaning.
action of the contemner calls for a deterrent punishment so that it also serves
as an example to others and there is no repetition of such a contempt by anyone
else. We, therefore, having found the contemner guilty of committing contempt
of court, sentence him to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of four
months and to pay a fine, to further undergo simple imprisonment for a period
of four months and to pay a fine of Rs. 1000 (one thousand) and in default of
payment of fine, to further undergo simple imprisonment for a period of 15 days.
JT 1998 (3) SC 184, a Constitution Bench of this Court opined :- "An
Advocate who is found guilty of contempt of court may also, as already noticed,
be guilty of professional misconduct in a given case but it is for the Bar
Council of the State or Bar Council of India to punish that Advocate by either
debarring him from practice or suspending his licence, as may be warranted, in
the facts and circumstances of each case. The learned Solicitor General
informed us that there have been cases where the Bar Council of India taking
note of the contumacious and objectionable conduct of an advocate, had
initiated disciplinary proceedings against him and even punished him for
"proceedings against him and even punished him for "professional
misconduct", on the basis of his having been found guilty of committing
contempt of court. We do not entertain any doubt that the Bar Council of the
State or Bar Council of India, as the case may be, when apprised of the
established contumacious conduct of an advocate by the High Court or by this
Court, would rise to the occasion, and taken appropriate action against such an
advocate. Under Article 144 of the Constitution "all authorities, civil
and judicial, in the territory of India shall act in aid of the Supreme Court".
the Bar Council which performs a public duty and is charged with the obligation
to protect the dignity of the profession and maintain professional standards
and etiquette is also obliged to act "in aid of the Supreme Court".
It must, whenever, facts warrant rise to the occasion and discharge its duties
uninfluenced by the position of the contemmer advocate. It must act in accordince
with the preseribed procedure, whenever it is drawn by this Court to the contum
and undecoming conduct of an advocatle whise the tendency to interfere with due
administration of justics............
Bench went on to say :- "There is no justification to assume that the Bar Cluncils
would notirise to the occasion, as they are equally responsible to uphold the
dignity of the courts and majesty of law and prevent any interference in the
administration of justice.
counsel for the parties present before us do not dispute and rightly so that
whenever a court of record, records its findings about the conduct of an
Advocate while finding him guilty of committing contempt of court and desires
or refers the matter to be considered by the concerned Bar Council, appropriate
action should bel initiated by the concerned Bar Council in accordance with law
with a view to maintain the dignity of the courts and to uphold the magesty of
law and professional standards and etiquette." Looking to the established
facts of this Court, it is apparent that the conduct of the contemner was
highly contumacious and even atrocious. He has abused professional privileges
while practising as an Advocate. We, therefore, deem it appropriate, in view of
the observations made in Supreme Court Bar Association vs. Union of India &
Anr. (supra), to direct that the copy of this judgment together with the
relevant record be forwarded to the Chairman, Bar Council of India, who may
refer the case to the concerned committee of appropriate action as is
considered fit and proper.
the contemner absented himself after furnishing bail bonds to the satisfaction
of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Lucknow pursuant to our order dated 3rd
March, 1997, his bail bonds are cancelled. The contemner shall be taken into
custody to undergo the sentence.