O.P. Sharma &
Ors. Vs. High Court of Punjab & Haryana
J U D G M E N T
P. Sathasivam, J.
Appeal Nos. 1108-1115 of 2004 are directed against the common judgment and final
order dated 25.08.2004 passed by the Division Bench of the High Court of Punjab
and Haryana at Chandigarh in Crl. O.C.P. Nos. 18 and 25 of 1999, Crl. O.C.P. Nos.
3,4,5,18,19 and 20 of 2001 whereby the Division Bench after rejecting the claim
of the appellants herein found all of them guilty of criminal contempt and convicted
them under Section 12 read with Sections 15 1and 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts
Act, 1971 (hereinafter referred to as "the Act")and sentenced them to
various terms of simple imprisonment and fine. Feeling aggrieved by the order
of conviction and sentence, one Surinder Sharma has filed Crl. A. No. 1206 of 2004.
Since the issue in all these appeals is common and relate to one incident, they
are being disposed of by the following judgment.
a. The District and
Sessions Judge, Faridabad, by his letter dated 16.09.1999, addressed to the Registrar,
High Court of Punjab & Haryana, forwarded Letter No. 376 dated 14.09.1999
written by Shri Rakesh Singh, Civil Judge (Junior Division-cum-Judicial Magistrate,
Ist Class) Faridabad which was addressed to him. In the said letter, the Judicial
Magistrate has stated that on 11.09.1999 at about 3 p.m., when he was dealing with
the remand of accused Soran in FIR No. 136 dated 13.06.1999, under Sections 393/452/506/34
of the Indian Penal Code (hereinafter referred to as "the IPC")
pertaining to Police Station Chhainsa, the Assistant Public Prosecutor
requested him for remanding the accused to police custody. By that time, Mr.
L.N. Prashar, Advocate, one of the contemnors/appellants herein, who represented
the accused, opposed the request of police remand. After hearing the arguments,
the Magistrate remanded the accused to police custody. When the order of police
remand was not found favourable, Mr. L.N. Prashar, advocate became enraged and
started hurling abuses and derogatory remarks against him. Upon hearing the remarks,
he tried to pacify him and requested him to behave properly but he did not relent
and again uttered un-parliamentary words and also threatened him with dire
b. It was further stated
that the accused Soran was being produced in four criminal cases on that very day
and was being represented by Mr. Prashar in all the matters. When he took
another remand paper of the same accused, Mr. Prashar became furious and again
uttered unparliamentary words and also threatened him. When he kept on sitting
on the dias, Mr. Prashar called his fellow colleagues including Mr. O.P.
Sharma, Rajinder Sharma, Surinder Sharma, Advocates, in total about 15-20 advocates,
who all belonged to the same 3group. Then, he requested Mr. O.P. Sharma, who is
a senior member of the Bar, to request Mr. Prashar to behave properly in the Court.
However, Mr. O.P. Sharma sided with Mr. Prashar and along with other advocates
shouted slogans and abused in filthy language and also threatened him.
c. It was further stated
that advocates were very aggressive and wanted to assault him physically. To avoid
any further deterioration in the situation, he retired to his Chamber. One of his
staff members, namely, Shri Raj Kumar, Ahlmad, had informed the Chief Judicial Magistrate,
Faridabad and the Judicial Magistrate, Ist Class, Faridabad about the incident
and they came to his Chamber and they also overheard Mr. Prashar shouting in the
Court. After sometime, Mr. O.P. Goyal, Addl. District & Sessions Judge,
Faridabad came there and pacified the advocates.
d. In continuation of his
letter dated 14.09.1999, the Magistrate addressed another letter dated 24.09.1999
to the District Judge, Faridabad. In the said letter, it was stated that Mr. Prashar
and Mr. O.P. Sharma, Advocates had criminal 4record and these persons have indulged
in pressure tactics since long and highlighted all the details about them.
e. The entire incident was
published in a local newspaper `Mazdoor Morcha' which necessitated action under
the Act against Shri Satish Kumar, owner, publisher, printer and Editor of the
f. Based on the letter of
the District & Sessions Judge as well as letter of the Judicial Magistrate,
Faridabad, the High Court took the matter by suo motu and initiated contempt
proceedings against the contemnors under Section 2(c) of the Act relating to
the incident which took place on 11.09.1999 in the Court of Shri Rakesh Singh, Civil
Judge, Faridabad for taking appropriate action.
the High Court, the respective contemnors/advocates filed affidavits highlighting
the circumstances under which the unfortunate incident occurred and by filing separate
affidavits they tendered unconditional apology and also regretted for the same.
On direction by the High Court, all of them appeared before the Magistrate
concerned and expressed their regret and also tendered 5unconditional apology. The
Division Bench, taking note of seriousness of the issue and finding that the reference
made by the Magistrate is based upon correct facts and overall conduct of the
contemnors found all of them guilty of criminal contempt within the meaning of Section
2(c) of the Act and imposed simple imprisonment of six months/three months with
a fine of Rs.1,000/-, 2,000/- each. As stated earlier, challenging the said conviction
and sentence, the above appeals have been filed.
Mr. Ram Jethmalani and Mr. V. Giri, learned senior counsel for the appellants and
Mr. S. Chandra Shekhar, learned counsel for the respondent. Submission of Mr.
the outset, Mr. Ram Jethmalani, learned senior counsel for the appellants submitted
that in view of the fact that the appellants herein, after realizing their mistake
immediately, offered unconditional apology by filing affidavits before the High
Court and also appeared before the Magistrate before whom the unfortunate
incident had occurred, tendered apology and regret for their action, prayed for
leniency and 6setting aside the order of the High Court sentencing the contemnors
to jail. He also submitted that inasmuch as the alleged incident had occurred
in September, 1999, considering the passage of time and by realizing the mistake
tendered unconditional apology before the High Court as well as before the
concerned Magistrate, their sentence of imprisonment may be set aside. He further
submitted that all the appellants/contemnors prepared to file fresh affidavits
conveying their unconditional apology and regret for the incident and also
assured that they would not indulge in such activities in future. Controversial
behaviour of the Contemnors
considering the acceptability of the affidavits filed by the appellants, in order
to visualize seriousness of the matter, it is useful to refer the exchange of words
and behaviour of the appellants (in English version) while the Magistrate remanded
the accused Soran to police custody. They are: "You have taken bribe. You do
all works only after taking bribe. You are indulging in gangism." "What
can you do to me. You may make contempt against me. I will suck your blood. I will
not leave you till High 7 Court. Bahanchod, you are considering this Court as inn.
Come out, we will just now teach you a taste of Judgeship. My name is L.N.
Prashar. You will come to know today as to how you pass orders against me. Even
earlier, criminal cases are pending against me. If one more case proceeds against
me, it would make no difference. It would cause you very clearly to have an
enmity with me and now I will see to it that I suck your blood. If you have any
courage, you come out."
the Magistrate took up another remand paper of the same accused, Mr. Prashar, again
became furious and uttered that: "You dismiss this bail application. I have
no faith in your Court. I am not going to furnish any bail bonds. There is no need
for us to have any bail from your Court."
that stage, the Magistrate asked his Reader to call the Chief Judicial Magistrate,
Faridabad so that the situation could be brought under control. On this, Mr. Prashar
remarked: "What can your CJM do. You may call him as well. We will see
your CJM also. You are indulging in big gangism."
the Magistrate requested Mr. O.P. Sharma, Advocate, who is a senior member of the
Bar, to request Mr. Prashar to behave properly in the Court. However, Mr. O.P.
Sharma, Advocate, sided with Mr. Prashar and shouted. 8 "We will do like
this only. Lock his Court and raise slogans against him.... On the asking of
Shri O.P. Sharma, Advocate, other Advocates accompanying him raised slogans,
"RAKESH SINGH MURDABAD, RAKESH SINGH MURDABAD..... ..... He was also
threatened by saying you come out. We will see your gangism."
all the officers were sitting in the chamber of the Magistrate, they over-heard
Mr. Prashar shouting in the Court in loud voice saying, "You are indulging
in gangism. You are passing orders of your choice. The contempt can not harm
me. I will see to it as to how you remain in service."Professional Conduct
and Etiquette - Rules and decisions of this Court
the light of the above scenario, before considering the fresh affidavits filed before
this Court by the appellants-Advocates, let us recapitulate various earlier orders
of this Court as to the duties of lawyer towards the Court and the Society
being a member of the legal profession.
role and status of lawyers at the beginning of Sovereign and Democratic India is
accounted as extremely vital in deciding that the Nation's administration was to
be governed by the Rule of Law. They were considered intellectuals amongst the elites
of the country and social 9activists amongst the downtrodden. These include the
names of galaxy of lawyers like Mahatma Gandhi, Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru,
Bhulabhai Desai, C. Rajagopalachari, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar,
to name a few. The role of lawyers in the framing of the Constitution needs no
special mention. In a profession with such a vivid history it is regretful, to say
the least, to witness instances of the nature of the present kind. Lawyers are the
officers of the Court in the administration of justice.
I of Chapter-II, Part VI titled "Standards of Professional Conduct and
Etiquette" of the Bar Council of India Rules specifies the duties of an advocate
towards the Court which reads as under: "Section I - Duty to the Court
advocate shall, during the presentation of his case and while otherwise acting before
a court, conduct himself with dignity and self-respect. He shall not be servile
and whenever there is proper ground for serious complaint against a judicial officer,
it shall be his right and duty to submit his grievance to proper authorities.
advocate shall maintain towards the courts a respectful attitude, bearing in
mind that the dignity of the judicial office is essential for the survival of a
advocate shall not influence the decision of a court by any illegal or improper
means. Private communications with a judge relating to a pending case are
advocate shall use his best efforts to restrain and prevent his client from resorting
to sharp or unfair practices or from doing anything in relation to the court, opposing
counsel or parties which the advocates himself ought not to do. An advocate shall
refuse to represent the client who persists in such improper conduct. He shall not
consider himself a mere mouth-piece of the client, and shall exercise his own judgement
in the use of restrained language in correspondence, avoiding scurrilous
attacks in pleadings, and using intemperate language during arguments in court.
advocate shall appear in court at all times only in the prescribed dress, and his
appearance shall always be presentable.
advocate shall not enter appearance, act, plead or practise in any way before a
court, Tribunal or Authority mentioned in Section 30 of the Act, if the sole or
any member thereof is related to the advocate as father, grandfather, son,
grand-son, uncle, brother, nephew, first cousin, husband, wife, mother, daughter,
sister, aunt, niece, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, brother-in-law daughter-in-law
or sister-in-law. For the purposes of this rule, Court shall mean a Court,
Bench or Tribunal in which above mentioned relation of the Advocate is a Judge,
Member or the Presiding Officer.
advocate shall not wear bands or gown in public places other than in courts
except on such ceremonial occasions and at such places as the Bar Council of India
or the court may prescribe.
advocate shall not appear in or before any court or tribunal or any other
authority for or against an organisation or an institution, society or
corporation, if he is a member of the Executive Committee of such organisation
or institution or society or corporation. "Executive Committee ", by whatever
name it may be called, shall include any Committee or body of persons which, for
the time being, is vested with the general management of the affairs of the organisation
or institution, society or corporation. Provided that this rule shall not apply
to such a member appearing as "amicus curiae" or without a fee on behalf
of a Bar Council, Incorporated Law Society or a Bar Association.
Advocate should not act or plead in any matter in which he is himself
peculiarly interested. Illustration I. He should not act in a bankruptcy
petition when he himself is also a creditor of the bankrupt. II. He should not
accept a brief from a company of which he is Director.
advocate shall not stand as a surety, or certify the soundness of a surety for
his client required for the purpose of any legal proceedings."
the case of Daroga Singh and Others vs. B.K. Pandey, (2004) 5 SCC 26, one Additional
District and Sessions Judge was attacked in a pre-planned and calculated manner
in his courtroom and chamber by police officials for not passing an order they
sought. This Court held that, "The Courts cannot be compelled to give
"command orders". The act committed amounts to deliberate interference
with the discharge of duty of a judicial officer by intimidation apart from scandalizing
and lowering the dignity of the Court and interference with the administration
of justice. The effect of such an act is not confined to a particular court or a
district, or the State, it has the tendency to effect the entire judiciary in the
country. It is a dangerous trend. Such a trend has to be curbed. If for passing
judicial orders to the annoyance of the police the presiding officers of the Courts
are to be assaulted and humiliated the judicial system in the country would
R.D. Saxena vs. Balram Prasad Sharma, (2000) 7 SCC 264, this Court held as
under: "In our country, admittedly, a social duty is cast upon the legal profession
to show the people beckon (sic beacon) light by their conduct and actions. The poor,
uneducated and exploited mass of the people need a helping hand from the legal profession,
admittedly, acknowledged as a most respectable profession. No effort should be
made or allowed to be made by which a litigant could be deprived of his rights,
statutory as well as constitutional, by an advocate only on account of the
exalted position conferred upon him under the judicial system prevalent in the
Mahabir Prasad Singh vs. Jacks Aviation Pvt. Ltd., (1999) 1 SCC 37, this Court
held that it is the solemn duty of every Court to proceed with judicial function
during Court hours and no Court should yield to pressure tactics or boycott
calls or any kind of browbeating. The Bench as well as the Bar has to avoid
unwarranted situations or trivial issues that hamper the cause of justice and
are in the interest of none.
the case of Ajay Kumar Pandey, Advocate, In Re: , (1998) 7 SCC 248, the advocate
was charged of 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. This Court held as under: 13
"The subordinate judiciary forms the very backbone of administration of justice.
This Court would come down 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 tend 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
Chetak Construction Ltd. vs. Om Prakash & Ors., (1998) 4 SCC 577, this Court
deprecated the practice of making allegations against the Judges and observed
as under: "Indeed, no lawyer or litigant can be permitted to browbeat the
court or malign the presiding officer with a view to get a favourable order. Judges
shall not be able to perform their duties freely and fairly if such activities
were permitted and in the result administration of justice would become a casualty
and rule of law would receive a setback. The Judges are obliged to decide cases
impartially and without any fear or favour. Lawyers and litigants cannot be allowed
to "terrorize" or "intimidate" Judges with a view to "secure"
orders which they want. This is basic and fundamental and no civilised system of
administration of justice can permit it........"Similar view has been reiterated
in Radha Mohan Lal vs. Rajasthan High Court, (2003) 3 SCC 427.
touches and asserts the primary value of freedom of expression. It is a practical
manifestation of the principle of freedom of speech. Freedom of expression in 14arguments
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 protection or other fundamental human rights, 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, therefore, is given liberty of expression. But
they equally owe countervailing duty to maintain dignity, decorum and order in
the court proceedings or judicial processes. Any adverse opinion about the judiciary
should only be expressed in a detached manner and respectful language. 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 [vide D.C. Saxena vs.
The Hon'ble Chief Justice of India, (1996) 5 SCC 216].
the matter of In re: Vinay Chandra Mishra (the alleged contemner), (1995) 2 SCC
534, the contemner who was a senior advocate, President of the Bar and Chairman
of the Bar Council of India, on being questioned by the Judge started to shout and
said that no question could have been put to him and that he will get the High Court
Judge transferred or see that impeachment motion is brought against him in
Parliament. This Court while sentencing him to simple imprisonment for six weeks
suspended him from practising as an advocate for a period of three years and
laid down as follows: "The contemner has obviously misunderstood his function
both as a lawyer representing the interests of his client and as an officer of
the court. Indeed, he has not tried to defend the said acts in either of his
capacities. On the other hand, he has tried to deny them. Hence, much need not
be said on this subject to remind him of his duties in both the capacities. It is,
however, necessary to observe that by indulging in the said acts, he has positively
abused his position both as a lawyer and as an officer of the Court, and has
done distinct disservice to the litigants in general and to the profession of law
and the administration of justice in particular."
the case of Supreme Court Bar Association vs. Union of India & Anr., (1998)
4 SCC 409, a Constitution Bench of this Court overruled In re: Vinay Chandra
Mishra (the alleged contemner) and held as under: 16 "The power of the Supreme
Court to punish for contempt of court, though quite wide, is yet limited and cannot
be expanded to include the power to determine whether an advocate is also guilty
of "Professional misconduct" in a summary manner which can only be done
under the procedure prescribed in the Advocates Act. The power to do complete
justice under Article 142 is in a way, corrective power, which gives preference
to equity over law but it cannot be used to deprive a professional lawyer of
the due process contained in the Advocates Act 1961 by suspending his licence to
practice in a summary manner, while dealing with a case of contempt of
court." It also opined that:- "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 "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 contemner advocate. It must act in accordance with the prescribed
procedure, whenever its attention is drawn by this Court to the contumacious and
unbecoming conduct of an advocate which has the tendency to interfere with due
administration of justice....." The Bench went on to say :- ".........There
is no justification to assume that the Bar Council is would not rise to the occasion,
as they are equally responsible to uphold the dignity of the courts and the
majesty of law and prevent any interference in the administration of justice. Learned
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 be initiated
by the concerned Bar Council in accordance with law with a view to maintain the
dignity of the courts and to uphold the majesty of law and professional standards
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 having failed to
persuade the Court to grant an order in the terms they expect. Holding the
Advocates guilty of contempt, this Court observed as under: 18 "The tendency
of maligning the reputation of Judicial Officers by disgruntled elements who fail
to secure the desired order is ever on the increase and it is high time it is nipped
fat 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, Veiled threats, abrasive behavior, 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. Such 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."
the case of L.D. Jaikwal v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (1984) 3 SCC 405, it was
held by this Court that acceptance of an apology from a contemnor should only be
a matter of exception and not that of a rule and expressed its opinion as
under: "6. We do not think that merely because the appellant has tendered his
apology we should set aside the sentence and allow him to go unpunished. Otherwise,
all that a person wanting to intimidate a Judge by making the grossest imputations
against him 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 19 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 of
his conscience on account of the fear of being scandalized and prosecuted 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
decorum of courts. 7.
We have yet to come across
a Judge who can take a decision which does not displease one side or the other.
By the very nature of his work he has to decide matters against one or other of
the parties. If the fact that he renders a decision which is resented to by a
litigant or his lawyer were to expose him to such risk, it will sound the death
knell of the institution. A line has therefore to be drawn somewhere, some day,
by someone. That is why the Court is impelled to act (rather than merely sermonize),
much as the Court dislikes imposing punishment whilst exercising the contempt jurisdiction,
which no doubt has to be exercised very sparingly and with circumspection.
We do not think that
we can adopt an attitude of unmerited leniency at the cost of principle and at the
expense of the Judge who has been scandalized. We are fully aware that it is
not very difficult to show magnanimity when someone else is the victim rather than
when oneself is the victim. To pursue a populist line of showing indulgence is
not very difficult -- in fact it is more difficult to resist the temptation to do
so rather than to adhere to the nail-studded path of duty. Institutional perspective
demands that considerations of populism are not allowed to obstruct the path of
duty. We, therefore, cannot take a lenient or indulgent view of this matter. We
dread the day when a Judge cannot work with independence by reason of the fear
that a disgruntled member of the Bar can publicly humiliate him and heap disgrace
on him with impunity, if any of his orders, or the decision rendered by him, displeases
any of the advocates, appearing in the matter.
the case of R.K. Garg Advocate v. State of Himachal Pradesh, (1981) 3 SCC 166,
where a lawyer hurled a shoe on the judicial officer which hit him on the shoulder,
this Court opined that there is no doubt that the Bar and the Bench are an integral
part of the same mechanism which administers justice to the people. Many
members of the Bench are drawn from the Bar and their past association is a
source of inspiration and pride to them. It ought to be a matter of equal pride
to the Bar. It is unquestionably true that courtesy breeds courtesy and just as
charity has to begin at home, courtesy must begin with the Judge. A
discourteous Judge is like an ill-tuned instrument in the setting of a
courtroom. But members of the Bar will do well to remember that such flagrant
violations of professional ethics and cultured conduct will only result in the
ultimate destruction of a system without which no democracy can survive.
Lalit Mohan Das vs. Advocate General, Orissa & Another, AIR 1957 SC 250,
this Court observed as under: "A member of the Bar undoubtedly owes a duty
to his client and must place before the Court all that can fairly and reasonably
be submitted 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 appellant before us
grossly 21 overstepped the limits of propriety when he made imputations of partiality
and unfairness against the Munsif in open Court. In suggesting that the Munsif followed
no principle in his orders, the appellant was adding insult to injury, because 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; if brought
into disrepute the whole administration of justice."
lawyer cannot be a mere mouthpiece of his client and cannot associate himself with
his client in maligning the reputation of judicial officer merely because his
client failed to secure the desired order from the said officer. A deliberate
attempt to scandalize the Court which would shake the confidence of the litigating
public in the system and would cause a very serious damage to the name of the judiciary.
[vide M.Y. Shareef & Anr. Vs. Hon'ble Judges of Nagpur High Court &
Ors., (1955) 1 SCR 757; Shamsher Singh Bedi vs. High Court of Punjab & Haryana,
(1996) 7 SCC 99 and M.B. Sanghi, Advocate vs. High Court of Punjab &
Haryana & Ors. (supra)].
Ram Jethmalani, learned senior counsel, strenuously pleaded to accept the solemn
statements made by all the 22appellants-Advocates in the form of affidavits dated
28.04.2011. Now, we are reproducing the affidavit filed before us by Mr. O.P.
Sharma (appellant No.1 herein): "IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CRIMINAL
APPELLATE JURISDICTION IN CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 1108-1115 OF 2004 In the matter
of O.P. Sharma & Ors. ...........Petitioners Versus High Court of Punjab
& Haryana ........Respondent AFFIDAVIT I, O.P. Sharma, S/o Late Shri M.R. Sharma
aged about 61 years R/o 252 Sector-9, Faridabad, Haryana presently at New Delhi
do hereby solemnly affirm and state as under:-
a. That the Deponent is one
of the appellants in the abovementioned Appeals.
b. That the deponent has
the highest and abiding faith in the institution of Judiciary and can not
imagine saying or doing any thing which would undermine the dignity and
prestige of the institution.
c. That the deponent hereby
tenders unconditional apology before this Hon'ble Court for the incident which
took place in the Courts at Faridabad out of which this contempt proceedings
arise and further undertake to maintain a good behaviour in future.
d. That at the first available
opportunity the unconditional apology and undertaking for maintaining good behaviour
was filed before the Ld. Magistrate. Sd/- Deponent VERIFICATION I the above named
deponent do hereby verify that the contents of the above affidavit are true to the
best of my knowledge. Verified at New Delhi on this 28th Day of April, 2011.
Similar affidavits have
been filed by other appellants reiterating what they had stated before the High
Court and the Magistrate concerned tendering unconditional apology for the
incident which took place in the Court at Faridabad. They also assured this Court
that they would maintain good behaviour in future. Though sub-Section 1 of Section
12 of the Act enables the court to award simple imprisonment for a term which may
extend to six months, proviso empowers the court that accused may be discharged
or punishment awarded may be remitted on apology being made to the satisfaction
of the court. In fact, Explanation to this Section makes it clear that an apology
shall not be rejected merely on the ground that it is qualified or conditional
if the accused makes it bona fide.
the plea made by Mr. Ram Jethmalani, learned senior counsel and President of the
Supreme Court Bar Association, in tendering unconditional apology, recorded
even at the initial stage before the High Court and before the Magistrate, Faridabad
before whom the unwanted incident had occurred and the present affidavits filed
before us once again expressing unconditional apology and regret with an
undertaking that they would maintain good behaviour in future and in view of the
language used in `proviso' and `explanation' appended to Section 12(1) of the Act,
we accept the affidavits filed by all the Appellants.
Satish Kumar, owner, publisher, printer and Editor of `Majdur Morcha' newspaper
has also filed affidavit before this Court similar to one by the other appellants.
Considering the fact that the newspaper has merely published what had happened
in the Court, we are of the view that it would be just and fair to apply the
same relief to him also. We reiterate that acceptance of an apology from a
contemnor should only be a matter of exception and not that of a rule.
Court, be that of a Magistrate or the Supreme Court is sacrosanct. The
integrity and sanctity of an institution which has bestowed upon itself the responsibility
of dispensing justice is ought to be maintained. All the functionaries, be it
advocates, judges and the rest of the staff ought to act in accordance with
morals and ethics. Advocates Role and Ethical Standards:
advocate's duty is as important as that of a Judge. Advocates have a large responsibility
towards the society. A client's relationship with his/her advocate is underlined
by utmost trust. An advocate is expected to act with utmost sincerity and respect.
In all professional functions, an advocate should be diligent and his conduct should
also be diligent and should conform to the requirements of the law by which an advocate
plays a vital role in the preservation of society and justice system. An
advocate is under an obligation to uphold the rule of law and ensure that the public
justice system is enabled to function at its full potential.
Any violation of the
principles of professional ethics by an advocate is unfortunate and unacceptable.
Ignoring even a minor violation/misconduct militates against the fundamental
foundation of the public justice system. An advocate should be dignified in his
dealings to the Court, to his fellow lawyers and to the litigants. He should have
integrity in abundance and should never do anything that erodes his credibility.
An advocate has a duty to enlighten and encourage the juniors in the
profession. An ideal advocate should believe that the legal profession has an
element of service also and associates with legal service activities. Most importantly,
he should faithfully abide by the standards of professional conduct and etiquette
prescribed by the Bar Council of India in Chapter II, Part VI of the Bar
Council of India Rules.
a rule, an Advocate being a member of the legal profession has a social duty to
show the people a beacon of light by his conduct and actions rather than being
adamant on an unwarranted and uncalled for issue.
hope and trust that the entire legal fraternity would set an example for other professionals
by adhering to all the above-mentioned principles.
the light of the above discussion and reasons which we have noted in the earlier
paras and as an exception to the general rule, we accept the unconditional
apology tendered in the form of affidavits in terms of proviso to Section 12(1)
of the Act and discharge all the appellants.
the appeals are disposed of on the above terms.
(DR. B.S. CHAUHAN)