Kumar Mahanty Vs. Jadu @ Ram Chandra Sahoo  Insc 540 (13 December 2002)
Sabharwal & K.G. Balakrishnan. Y.K. Sabharwal, J.
Officers are supposed to be the members of a disciplined force. It is of utmost
importance to curb any tendency in them to flout orders of the Court. It is
more so when flouting of order results in deprivation of personal liberty of an
individual. If protectors of law, to take revenge, defy court orders they will
have to be sternly dealt with and appropriate punishment inflicted also with a
view to send a message across the board that such an act cannot be
appellant is a police officer. At the relevant time, i.e., on 13th November, 1990, he was the officer-in-charge of
the police station in question. A police officer of that police station had
reported that the respondent had assaulted him on 30th September, 1990 which was the immersion day of Goddess Durga while
he was on duty and the respondent had been asked by him to give side to other
image (Medha) to pass. A case was registered against the respondent.
the admitted facts. In connection with the aforesaid case, the respondent was
arrested by the appellant on 13th November, 1990 from his residence at 7.30 a.m. He
was kept in Police Custody and was produced before the Magistrate on 14th
November. The respondent in respect of this very case had been granted bail by
the Sessions Judge on 6th
November, 1990. The
respondent had obtained certified copy of the order of bail on 7th November.
The respondent was produced before the Magistrate on 14th November when his
advocate produced a certified copy of the order of the Sessions Judge and,
thus, he was released by the Magistrate.
only controversy is whether the respondent had produced, before the appellant,
the certified copy of the order of bail at the time of his arrest. According to
the respondent, it was produced. In the proceedings of contempt that were
initiated by the High Court, on receipt of reference from the Sessions Judge, Cuttack, appellant denied that the copy of
the bail order was produced before him. The High Court, on appreciation of
evidence, held that copy of the bail order was produced before the appellant
who arrested the respondent despite it. The appellant was held guilty of contempt
and was sentenced for civil imprisonment for a period of seven days. Under
these circumstances, this appeal has been filed under Section 19 of the
Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 (for short, the 'Act').
of paramount public interest that the people, after obtaining an order of the
Court, should not feel helpless or without any remedy when such order is
Advocate Genera, Bihar v. M.P. Khari Industries [(1980) 3
SCC 311], this Court said that "... It may be necessary to punish as a
contempt a course of conduct, which abuses and makes a mockery of the judicial
process and which thus extends its pernicious influence beyond the parties to
the action and affects the interest of the public in the administration of
justice. The public have an interest, an abiding and a real interest and vital
stake in the effective and orderly administration of justice, because unless
justice is so administered, there is the peril of all rights and liberties
perishing. The Court has the duty of protecting the interest of the public in
the due administration of justice and so it is contempt of Court not in order
to protect the dignity of the Court against 'Contempt of Court' may seem to
suggest, but to protect and to vindicate the right of the public that the administration
of justice shall not be prevented, prejudiced, obstructed or interfered
with." The rule of law is the foundation of the democratic society. The
judiciary is the guardian of the rule of law. If the orders of the court are
disobeyed with impunity by those who owe an obligation to the society to
preserve the rule of law, not only would individual litigants suffer, the whole
administration of justice would be brought into disrepute.
case against the appellant was held proved by the High Court on appreciation of
evidence, perusal of the original record of the case files including the
certified copy of the bail order that had been obtained and its condition.
Mehta, learned counsel for the appellant, submits that the finding of guilt was
returned against the appellant by the High Court without production of any
independent evidence. The finding, it is contended, is based on probabilities
when the requirement of law is that the charge of contempt shall be proved
beyond any reasonable doubt. It was also contended that the appellant, while
forwarding the respondent to the Magistrate, had mentioned at the end in his
own hand that the respondent told him about the bail order having been passed
by the learned Sessions Judge which shows his bona fides. The further
contention is that the belief of the appellant that the respondent had been
granted bail was of no consequence since it was his duty to arrest the
respondent in connection with the case registered against him and he could not
release the respondent merely acting on his belief. Further, it was submitted
that the respondent did not produce the bail order before the SDO and SDPO who
had come to the police station on tension being created after the arrest of the
have no difficulty in accepting the contention that the case against the
appellant is required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. The contempt
proceedings under the Act are quasi criminal. The standard of proof required is
that of criminal proceedings. Therefore, the charge has to be established
beyond reasonable doubt (see Mrityunjoy Das & Anr. v. Sayed Hasibur Rahaman
& Ors. [(2001) 3 SCC 739].
are, however, unable to accept the contention of the learned counsel that the
charge against the appellant has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt. The
respondent was arrested at 7.30 a.m. from
his residence. The only other person available at that time when the certified
copy of the bail order was shown to the appellant was the mother of the
respondent who was examined as a witness. The appellant crushed the order.
Different persons have the tendency to use different language while narrating
the same incident. It is of no consequence that the respondent at one stage
stated that the bail order when produced was 'torn', at another stage stated
that it was 'bundled' and with reference to that order, his mother used the
word 'rubbed'. The said order, as already noticed, was examined by the High
Court before arriving at the finding that it bears marks of violence. The
appellant admitted that as per his belief the respondent had been granted bail.
If that was so, appellant would have given an opportunity to the respondent to
produce that order instead of arresting him despite that belief. The appellant
wanted to arrest the respondent any way. The case related to an alleged assault
on a Police Officer of a Police Station of which the appellant was in-charge.
No fault can be found with the finding of the High Court that the act was a
result of revenge which prompted the appellant to act against his belief that
the respondent had been granted bail and act against such a belief. There was
tension as a result of the arrest of the respondent because he was arrested
despite bail order. There was nothing to show that the respondent was produced before
the SDO and SDPO when they visited the Police Station. It is nobody's case that
those officers met the respondent. The High Court has rightly held the
appellant guilty of contempt of court.
counsel for the appellant contends that apology that has now been tendered by
the appellant may be accepted. The incident relates to the year 1990. The
respondent was deprived of his personal liberty despite grant of bail by the
Sessions Judge. The appellant has tendered the apology only now after lapse of
nearly 12 years. This appeal was admitted in the year 1993. The case has been
on board for quite some time. The apology has been tendered only on 30th November, 2002. The apology has to be sincere and
not merely to escape the punishment. In our view, it is not a fit case where
the apology tendered at this belated stage ought to be accepted.
it was contended that instead of imprisonment, fine be imposed on the
appellant. In a matter of this nature, where a Police Officer, disregarding the
bail order, arrests a person because case against him is of alleged assault on
a police official, we do not think that mere sentence of fine would meet the
ends of justice. No interference is called for in the judgment and order of the
appeal is accordingly dismissed.